Call for Submissions: Spoon Knife 5

The Basics

Autonomous Press seeks submissions of poetry, short fiction, and short memoir pieces for an upcoming anthology, Spoon Knife 5: Liminal.

Scheduled for publication in Fall 2020, this fifth volume of the Spoon Knife Anthology series follows The Spoon Knife Anthology: Tales of Compliance, Defiance, and Resistance (Spring 2016), Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber (Spring 2017), Spoon Knife 3: Incursions (Fall 2018), Spoon Knife 4: A Neurodivergent Guide to Spacetime (Fall 2019).

Deadline for submissions is Tuesday, December 31, 2019.

What We’re Looking For

limen: Latin, “threshold”

A liminality is a threshold, the place between here and there which is, in itself, both and neither. From it we get the word “subliminal” meaning, literally, “below the threshold of sensation.” A liminal space is a transitional zone. It is at the heart of a ritual or rite of passage, when one is no longer the thing they started as, but has yet to become the thing they will be. To stand at a liminal point is to occupy both sides of a boundary at once. Liminality can be disorienting, unsettling, ambiguous, and uncomfortable, but it can also be freeing, an existence without labels or boxes, or a means to a new becoming.

We are looking for fiction, poetry, and memoir that explores thresholds and liminalities of all kinds. The work must further intersect with themes of neurodivergence, queerness, and/or the intersections of neurodivergence and queerness. Some examples might be:

  • the experience of occupying liminal space as an individual
  • the experience of collective or cultural liminal spaces, such as demimondes
  • rites of passage, including via formal ritual or ceremony, or as a transition between states of being, locations, moments in time or ages, statuses, or situations
  • sensory phenomena that occur at the threshold of sensation, perhaps sensed by some but not by others
  • metamorphosis or transformation
  • explorations into the subconscious or other borderland spaces
  • ghosts, entities out of phase with the material world, virtual entities, voices, or other characters that exist in threshold or liminal/subliminal spaces
  • doorways, gateways, and the literal and figurative passageways between here and there

The Editors

Spoon Knife 5: Liminal will be edited by Andrew M. Reichart and Dora M. Raymaker

Andrew M. Reichart is managing editor of Argawarga Press, an imprint of Autonomous Press dedicated to genre fiction. He is co-author, with Nick Walker, of the epistolary science fiction novel Insurgent Otherworld and the Weird Luck webcomic. He has also written four genre-blurring novels, Wallflower Assassin and the City of the Watcher trilogy, which will be re-released in new editions by Argawarga Press starting in 2019. For his day job Andrew helps run a small utopian tech firm, and he’s also an activist with a grassroots abolitionist project. He lives in California with his wife and a couple of dogs.

Dora M. Raymaker, PhD, is a scientist, writer, multi-media artist, and activist whose work across disciplines focuses on social justice, critical systems thinking, complexity, and the value of diversity. Dora is an Autistic/queer/genderqueer person living in Portland Oregon, conducting community-engaged research at Portland State University, knitting fractals, and communing with the spirit of the City. Dora’s work includes the novel Hoshi and the Red City Circuit and the short story “Heat Producing Entities” in Spoon Knife 3: Incursions.

Format and Length

Fiction and Memoir: We’re looking 10,000 words or less of fully-polished prose, submitted in standard manuscript format (title page with contact info, double-spaced Times New Roman 12-point font, pages numbered with either title or author’s name in the header.)

Poetry: You may submit up 5 pieces of any length and style, provided they fit the theme of this collection.

All submissions must be in a Word-compatible format (.doc, .docx, .odt).

When and How to Submit

Submissions are now open. Please submit your work no later than Tuesday, December 31, 2019.

Authors will be notified of their acceptance or rejection by Friday, February 28, 2020.

Payment for accepted submissions will be 1 cent per word, to be sent by check during the second quarter of 2020.

Email all submissions to sk5.liminal@gmail.com

When submitting your work, please put in the subject line one of the following:

    “Spoon Knife 5 Submission – Fiction”

    “Spoon Knife 5 Submission – Memoir”

    “Spoon Knife 5 Submission – Poetry”

Also, please include a cover letter that clearly specifies the name under which you want to be credited, along with a 3-4 sentence bio written in the third person. The name and bio should be typed exactly as you want them to appear in the book.

Q&A with Fable the Poet

Oh, it’s a good week over at AutPress. Azzia Walker, our Operations Manager, got to interview Fable the Poet on the making of art and how he shows up in the world. Be sure to check out Fable’s work in Spoon Knife 1 and his first solo poetry collection, Adrift in a Sea of M&Ms. 

Your poems are wicked powerful. Were they always coming out with so much honesty and force, or did you work at opening up that flow?

Thank you for that! Honestly my poetry has not always been so raw, vulnerable, and transparent. I really started writing in High School (mostly in traditional Fables) as a way to vent about what I was going through at home and what I saw going on with my peers in a way that would fully make me vulnerable. Each year I can see, hear, and feel growth in my writing as I become more honest but also take steps forward in the caliber of my writing but for some reason as I progress it really makes me scared and I want to shut down and do nothing… But when I sit idle I get really in my head, so writing it is!

What do you do outside of writing and performing that supports these? Do you have any practices or exercises that keep you centered and strengthened?

I am lucky enough to be the Executive Director of a startup nonprofit organization called The Diatribe. The Diatribe uses performing art to empower young people to share their stories, raise awareness of social issues, and be active members in their communities. Our organization works with nearly 20 schools a year and if I am keeping it 100, the young people that we work with are one of my biggest inspirations. So many of our kids are so brave, honest, forgiving, and constantly working to become the best “them” that they can be. They subconsciously help me with my communication while constantly pushing me to become the best writer and leader that I can be.

As of late I just purchased an Apple Pen and was gifted a book of 400 writing prompts from my mother. The Apple Pen helps as I have been one of those writers that has unfortunately distanced myself from writing in journals, but now I can still do that in my tablet (that is honestly always by my side) and these prompts are a big help as now I am writing nearly twice a week! Yay technology!

When did you start writing and performing? How have you changed since gaining momentum in bringing your voice to the public?

I started performing in High School and it changed my life forever. I actually became a writer because of a High School English teacher. I was failing her English class and after seeing some potential in me, she refused to just stand by and watch me fail. So she said to me “Marcel, if you turn in a piece of creative writing every day I will pass you” – me refusing to get grounded by my mother reluctantly agreed.

At the end of the year she sent me to the KCP (King Chavez Parks) college readiness camp and although I did NOT get excited about higher education while I attended the camp, I did meet some workshop leaders that taught us about performance poetry.

I read at the end of summer reading, next year at my High School talent show, and from that point on I was HOOKED.

Honestly, my non traditional route into writing. My education, my story, and how I continue to evolve as a person but also a writer is a huge part of my “style” and I think many of my readers should know that when diving into my work.

What advice would you have for an aspiring poet or performer who lacks confidence, and who may not have much support in place just yet?

Do it, but do it for YOU. Do it when you have nothing else, do it and be more honest than you ever have before. Do it without any intent of anyone ever seeing it. But take baby steps into showing people your work and take every opportunity to do so that you can.

If this is something you are passionate about, soak in as much information as humanly possible to make yourself better – but also realize that your “better” might not be someone else’s “better”. Remain true to you, find yourself, and really connect with the people who appreciate your work because they will keep you centered along your journey.

Also, have fun!

Don’t make this “work” in the sense that you will ever regret going there.

But also do not give this part time energy as full time hours breed full time results in every aspect of your creative endeavors.

Q&A with Dora Raymaker

Azzia Walker, our new Operations Manager, had the great pleasure of interviewing Dora Raymaker, author of Hoshi and the Red City Circuit. Dora is a fabulous person to know and we recommend checking out more of her work.

Who do you want reading your books?

Most urgently, people like me. There are so few neurodivergent characters in literature–and of them, rarely are they heroes–and of those heroes, rarely are they portrayed outside of stereotypes. Rarely do they include the realities of our lives either, like the perils (and privileges) of passing, or the constant fight for person-ness and inclusion. I tell stories I want to read. I want them read by other people who wish, as I do, for realistic neurodivergent heroes, and for themes that trouble existing disability realities and narratives.

But also, I want my books read by everyone who enjoys literary science fiction and a weird, fun romp through cyber-fueled speculative worlds! I’m not playing to the mainstream, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be excellent to have broader readership.

What was your favorite scene to write?

Definitely the chase scene that happens about mid-way through the book. I love writing action scenes, particularly chase scenes. Sometimes I act them out. That one was extra-fun because it gave me a chance to run through a lot of Red City, and I really enjoy walking through the streets of that setting and experiencing it with Hoshi. During the scene, I had to both get Hoshi from one physical location to another, and bring her from baseline to total mental and physical exhaustion. So it was a fun writing craftsmanship challenge too.

What scene was the hardest to write, and why?

I wrote this story so long ago, I’m not totally sure anymore–the position of “hardest scene ever” is seared into my current memory as a particular scene from a different novel. For Hoshi though, possibly the Claudia’s apartment scene, which in the final book is scattered throughout the story but was originally one scene. That was structurally difficult–where to put what information and when? The other possible contender is the scene where Hoshi confronts the murderer, which remains the one part of the book I’m still not totally happy with. As to why that scene was hard, it’s because I feel like I never quite got grounded on the character of the murderer. It was “good enough” for the story, but not solid enough for me write without struggle.

What feeling do you want people to come away with?

Satisfaction at a story well-told, coupled with disappointment that it’s over and a desire for more stories with these characters, or in this world, or by me as an author. I want that feeling that I get when I read a good book, and turning the last page is a bitter-sweet sigh of satisfaction and yearning for more.

Tell us something that we wouldn’t guess about you.

When I was 17 I ran away from home with a friend. We made it all the way from Maine to Western Saskatchewan, and then back down into Eastern Montana, a distance of nearly 3,000 miles. That’s maybe guessable to anyone who knew me at the time, plus or minus some details, but the reason I was found was because a psychic who was sometimes used by the police back in Maine told my parents the name of a town which happened to be in the same area where the police picked us up. The Montana police would unlikely to have been on the lookout for us otherwise, and we’d have slipped away. So, yes, I was located by a police psychic. I was an actual X-File.

What’s in Spoon Knife 3?

Spoon Knife is Autonomous Press’ annual anthology of original stories by queer and/or neurodivergent authors. Spoon Knife accepts short fiction of any genre, plus memoir and the occasional poem. Each volume of Spoon Knife has a different team of editors and a different theme.

The 2018 Autumn Equinox saw the publication of Spoon Knife 3: Incursions, edited by Nick Walker and Andrew M. Reichart (who are also the co-creators of the Weird Luck stories, a growing body of interconnected speculative fiction tales).

So, what’s in Spoon Knife 3? Twenty unique and wonderfully strange pieces by twenty authors representing three generations of queer and neurodivergent literary talent. Let’s take a walk through the table of contents and see what each piece is about…

The Bob Show, by Jeff Baker (fiction)
A fugitive hiding out at his eccentric brother’s home discovers his brother’s TV picks up shows from another reality.

Future Dive, by Alyssa Gonzalez (fiction)
A hilarious but all-too-plausible glimpse of a future dominated by the gig economy.

9-5, by Eliza Redwood (poetry)
A short poem about soul-deadening office jobs.

A Twentieth-Century Comedy of Manners, by Old Cutter John (memoir)
An autistic software designer creates an unintentional disturbance in a corporate hierarchy.

Only Strawberries Don’t Have Fathers, by Judy Grahn (fiction)
Released from a psych ward and hired as a gardner, a sensitive soul becomes witness to the evolving relationships within a family of humans and a family of cats.

Stag, by RL Mosswood (fiction)
A depressed man is revitalized by an erotic encounter with the supernatural.

Life on Mars, by B. Allen (memoir)
A childhood suicide attempt leads to a revelation.

Black Dogs, Night Terrors, and Lights in the Sky, by Sean Craven (memoir)
How do you conduct yourself in the world, when your world is full of monsters and weird visitations?

The Trumpet Sounds, by Alexeigynaix (memoir)
How does one make sense of an encounter with a Mystery too big to fit within the bounds of language and rationality?

Vigilance, by Mike Jung (fiction)
An autistic superhero faces a world-destroying cosmic force.

Spacetime Dialectic, by N.I. Nicholson (poetry)
When you look in the mirror and catch a glimpse of an alternate version of yourself looking back at you, it can lead to some interesting dialogue.

Kill Your Darlings, by Verity Reynolds (fiction)
An alien secret agent, stalking a historical figure in an alternate timeline, learns that her mission has some unforseen complications.

B3: Or, How an Autistic Fixation from the Past Blew the Lid Off My Future, by Andee Joyce (memoir)
A fascination with an old Top 40 song sparks a life-changing creative awakening.

Who Is Allowed? by Alyssa Hillary (poetry)
Being autistic in academia means navigating a system that’s determined to exclude you.

Unworldly Love, by Steve Silberman (memoir)
A gay writer’s memoir of sexual awakening.

The New World, by Melanie Bell (fiction)
In a utopian culture of scholars without gender or sexuality, the gender and sexuality of outsiders becomes a controversial topic of study.

Heat Producing Entities, by Dora M. Raymaker (fiction)
Two young thieves from very different backgrounds have to figure out how to deal with each other when they both go after the same item.

Space Pirate Stowaway, by Andrew M. Reichart (fiction)
A powerful being trapped in the form of a cat stows away on a pirate ship that travels between universes — but there’s something else on board that’s far more dangerous.

The Scrape of Tooth on Bone, by Ada Hoffmann (fiction)
A timid lesbian robot mechanic who can channel the spirits of the dead gets caught up in the deadly intrigues of rival paleontologists.

Waiting for the Zeppelins, by Nick Walker (fiction)
Agent Smiley of the Reality Patrol finds himself in dire peril when his plan to stop Sigmund Freud from destroying London goes awry.

You can order Spoon Knife 3 direct from Autonomous Press, or from Amazon, or through your local bookstore.

 

Weird Luck Interview Part 4

Welcome to the final installment of this four-part Weird Luck interview series? In parts one, two, and three, press partners Andrew M. Reichart and Nick Walker talked about the origins of Weird Luck, their unique approach to worldbuilding, neurodivergence in the WL universe, and the expandable possibilities of the WL multiverse. In this week’s installment, you’ll read the backstory of the WL comic, plus Andrew and Nick reveal the future of WL and give us details about the Argawarga relaunch.

– N.I. Nicholson


Ian: Now I’m thinking about the recent discussion about the webcomic in this whole thread and wondering: at what point did you all decide to include and launch a webcomic in the Weird Luck, and what spurred the idea?

Nick: I bear the blame for the idea of doing a webcomic.

Comics were a central obsession for me throughout my childhood and teen years. I mean, I wasn’t just another kid who loved comic books; I was drawing comics before I could write, and while I was still in grade school I acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of comics — not just comic books but newspaper comic strips all the way back to the days of The Yellow Kid and Mutt & Jeff. 

In fact, Agent Sojac’s name comes from the nonsense phrase “Notary Sojac,” which regularly appeared on signs and such in the backgrounds of the old absurdist newspaper comic strip Smokey Stover. That’s what kind of comics geek I am.

But once I was out of high school, the struggle to survive as an autistic person with no financial resources or familial support derailed my plans to pursue a career in comics. Too busy just trying not to be homeless, and by the time I had enough stability in my life to make substantial creative projects viable I’d gotten sidetracked into other things. I got into writing eventually, but not back into creating comics.

Meanwhile, from 1996 to 2015, I was a core member of a group called Paratheatrical Research. The work of Paratheatrical Research involved using a combination of intensive physical movement work and trance states to access and forces in the personal and collective unconscious. Essentially doing deep Jungian work via the methods of experimental physical theatre.

Andrew got involved in Paratheatrical Research as well. In 2013, we were involved in some Paratheatrical Research work that focused on exploring the archetypal forces known as the Muses. When I started connecting with the Muses, they made it quite clear to me that it was time to get back to the creative dreams of my youth — writing fun weird speculative fiction, and making comics.

By that time, I’d become a fan of several webcomics, and really liked the medium — especially its DIY accessibility and the way it fostered regular reader/creator engagement.

So one day in the Spring of 2013, Andrew and I were walking to a Paratheatrical Research session together, and I proposed out of the blue that we collaborate on a webcomic. Of course, the idea that it would be part of the Weird Luck saga went without saying, because it was me and Andrew.

It took a while to get rolling. We realized that the two of us didn’t have time to both write and draw it, certainly not draw it at the level of skill we were envisioning, so we had to find an artist who was into the idea. Eventually, Andrew got the extraordinarily talented Mike Bennewitz on board — Mike was already the cover artist for Andrew’s Weird Luck novels.

Then we spent a while experimenting with what proved to be a false start. See, the main setting of the Weird Luck webcomic is the city-state of Tal Sharnis, which was created when an interdimensional disaster caused two cities in different universes to merge with one another into one reality-warped hybrid city (the disaster also tore both cities out of their native universes and transported them to the desolate chaotic wasteland of the Plateau of Leng). One of the two cities that got fused together in this disaster was also called Tal Sharnis, and before the disaster (which everyone now calls the Great Merger) it was located on Amarantis, a world that plays an important role in the Weird Luck saga. The other city was a version of late-20th-Century San Francisco (well, really the greater San Francisco Bay Area, including Oakland, Berkeley, the Marin headlands, and the Bay itself).

Well, the original plan was for the webcomic to take place in this version of San Francisco in the time shortly BEFORE the Great Merger. When it was still San Francisco, and still located on a version of modern-day Earth, but reality is starting to come apart at the seams a bit as the moment of the Great Merger slowly approaches.

We spent a bunch of time working on that story before we realized it wasn’t catching fire for us as a team. Mike wanted to draw exotic alien locations, and wanted some of the characters he drew to be nonhuman and/or too wildly exotic to blend in on 20th Century Earth. Andrew and I wanted a story that would connect more closely with Andrew’s novels, a story where we could bring in space pirates and that sort of thing.

So we went back to the drawing board, and in the end the result is the Weird Luck webcomic we’ve got today, which we’re having a great time with and which is proving to fit perfectly with the sort of Weird Luck prose stories we’re feeling inspired to write these days.

That prequel story in the pre-Merger Bay Area, though… that story is going to be told someday. I might do it as a second webcomic with a different artist who likes drawing modern-era city life, or maybe as a solo novel, somewhere quite a ways down the road.

Man, nothing about Weird Luck has a short answer…

Ian: Wow. That is pretty fascinating. That managed to answer two of the next follow-up questions I had planned. But your mention of the novels brings me to this question: Tell us a little about the origins of Argawarga Press. 

Andrew: In the late 90s, I figured I should grab some sorta unique domain name before they were all snatched up by ‘domain name trolls.’ I picked ‘argawarga.’ In Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban, arga warga is onomatopoeia for the sound of being eaten alive by wild dogs. I read that book once and it changed my life. The word appeals to me because I’m a werewolf, I guess.

Now we’re turning a big corner, becoming an imprint of Autonomous Press, relaunching with the publication of our first non-Andrew book, Dora Raymaker’s Hoshi and the Red City Circuit.
– Andrew M. Reichart

Argawarga dot com was a Web 1.0 static HTML site that I wrote by hand. Basically a porto-blog, consisting of my writing and art. I wrote a couple of books, got an agent. He wasn’t able to get any traction with the books, bless him, partly because he wasn’t very experienced, and partly because they didn’t fit any mainstream market at the time. They’d be fine in the late 60s or early 70s, maybe, but they were far too skinny and genre-bendy for the 00s.

Not long after, though, self-publishing took a turn thanks to ebooks and print-on-demand. We now lived in a world where you didn’t run the risk of printing thousands of copies that sit in storage till you figure out how to move them. I’d had an interest in self-publishing forever, since the punk zines of the 80s, really. But two mentors inspired me to finally undertake it now: Micaela Petersen of Sto*Nerd Press and The Blunt Letters, and Clint Marsh of Wonderella Printed and the journal Fiddler’s Green. Their projects were very different from what I was proposing to do, but their gumption and vision made it seem perfectly reasonable to just, like, offer bound printed matter to the public.

So, I published my first two books under Argawarga Press. And then my third, and my fourth. And now we’re turning a big corner, becoming an imprint of Autonomous Press, relaunching with the publication of our first non-Andrew book, Dora Raymaker’s Hoshi and the Red City Circuit.

Ian: Without giving away too many spoilers, what do the both of you envision for the future of Weird Luck as well as the newly launched Argawarga imprint?

Nick: We’re going to keep on writing and publishing Weird Luck stories for a long time to come. We have a lot of story to tell, and we keep on generating more. As I noted earlier, what’s been published so far is the very small tip of a very big iceberg.

We’re in the early stages of co-writing a series of Weird Luck novels, which will initially be published in weekly installments on the Weird Luck website and will eventually become available in paperback from the Argawarga Press imprint. Insurgent Otherworld is the first of these collaborative novels; it will be followed by Gods of the Endless Plateau, and then others in the years to come.

In late spring of this year, Autonomous Press publishes Spoon Knife 3: Incursions, the third volume of the annual Spoon Knife literary anthology. Andrew and I were the editors for this volume, and, like the previous volume, this one features two new Weird Luck short stories — one from each of us. We aim to continue releasing new Weird Luck short stories in every future volume of Spoon Knife. 

The webcomic has been on hiatus for a bit, but new webcomic pages are in the works. We’re just getting into the part of the webcomic that introduces Smiley, one of the central characters in the Weird Luck saga. Readers already got to meet a much younger Smiley in my novelette “Bianca and the Wu-Hernandez,” which appeared in volume two of Spoon Knife. The middle-aged Smiley of the webcomic is even more troublesome. Middle-aged Smiley is also the protagonist of my upcoming story in Spoon Knife 3: Incursions. Smiley has a gift for making any situation a whole lot more complicated and chaotic than it needs to be, so we’re looking forward to springing him on Agent Sojac and the rest of the gang in Tal Sharnis.

Andrew: As for Argawarga Press, we’ve got a big couple of years ahead, with five Weird Luck titles forthcoming — re-releases of my four books in new paperback and ebook editions, plus Insurgent Otherworld. Then when we finish Gods of the Endless Plateau, Argawarga will publish it as well, probably in 2020.

We’ve also got books coming out that are (as far as we know) outside the Weird Luck Saga: the aforementioned Hoshi and the Red City Circuit by Dora Raymaker, and a sort of tangential prequel, Resonance, which may come out as soon as next year. And she’s got a direct sequel brewing, which will make Hoshi fans glad.

Finally, for folks who like rare collectible stuff, I guess I could mention that every year I make a limited edition zine/chapbook, Weird Luck Tales, that includes a couple of Weird Luck stories. There are still a few copies left of last year’s No. 5, featuring my story “Monsters” from Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber, plus “Things that Crawled from the Shadows,” which appeared on weirdluck.org. I made two limited editions of 99 copies each, one for the Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird, and one for NecronomiCon in Providence. I’m in the process of making the exclusive edition for participants in this year’s Outer Dark Symposium, and I’ll have a second limited edition for sale later in the spring. Weird Luck Tales No. 6 includes my story from Spoon Knife 3: Incursions, “Space Pirate Stowaway,” and the backup story “The Art Collector’s Dream Diary,” published on weirdluck.org this spring.

And I’ve got other Weird Luck stories in the works as well, which I’m submitting to various oddball genre markets. There’s lots of Weird Luck stuff yet to come.


Thanks for reading our Weird Luck interview series! We hope you’ve enjoyed this revealing look at the WL multiverse, the rich backstories behind it and its creators, and the exciting future that lays ahead. To make sure you don’t miss a post, like AutPress on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. While you’re at it, don’t forget to follow the Weird Luck Facebook page for even more WL updates!

 

Weird Luck Interview Part 3

Welcome to this third installment of the Weird Luck interview! If you haven’t already read parts one and two of this series, you can check them out in the previous blog posts. Previously, AutPress partners Nick Walker and Andrew M. Reichart discussed WL’s origins, worldbuilding, and collaboration. This week, you’ll read about how all the pieces — the novels, upcoming serials, and webcomics — all fit together.  

— N.I. Nicholson


Ian: Next, I’d like to ask about how all the pieces fit together in the Weird Luck universe, especially so that newcomers just getting into Weird Luck understand. I (think) I get how the webcomics, Andrew’s previous novels, and Insurgent Otherworld fit together, but how would you summarize or explain this to someone whose first exposure is to only one of these: say, they’ve only read the webcomic, or they’ve only read City of the Watcher?

Nick: The Weird Luck saga is an ever-growing web of interconnected stories. Most of the stories are in prose form, except for the webcomic — though in the future there’ll be more stories in comic form with various artists.

Most pieces of the Weird Luck saga are designed so that they can be enjoyed as standalone stories by anyone who’s never read any of the other pieces. But the idea is that the more pieces you read, the richer your experience, as you get more and more sense of how all the pieces fit together into a bigger picture.

There are aspects of the big picture — mysteries and hidden plot arcs — to be discovered and figured out as one puts together more of the pieces and stumbles on hints within various stories. That’s part of the fun for both us and the reader.

You can read just one piece — just the webcomic, or just one short story in an anthology somewhere — and if we’ve done our job right, that piece is perfectly enjoyable on its own. But we’re always hoping people will want to follow us down the rabbit hole and keep reading more pieces, getting deeper into the intricacies of the bigger tales we’re weaving out of the various pieces.
— Nick Walker

If you think of any saga made up of a series of stories — the Harry Potter books, for instance — there’s a bigger picture that emerges over time; puzzling things that eventually fit into place as you read more of the books. But one thing that makes the Weird Luck saga unusual and brain-twisting is that it’s non-linear. A new reader can start reading with any piece, and read the pieces in any order. And we’re not writing and publishing the pieces in the order in which they take place.

Also, the overall Weird Luck saga isn’t centered around just one single central character or small group of characters. Different characters have their different story arcs. You read any given piece and you’ll get part of the long-term arc of that piece’s central character — and probably also part of the long-term arcs of various other characters. A character who’s central in one piece might be a minor character in a bunch of other pieces. That’s part of the fun, part of the puzzle. Figuring out the story arcs, motives, etc., of the various recurring characters, based on the glimpses you get of them in various stories that take place at various points in their lives. There are characters and events that are important to the big picture but that one only gets to learn about one glimpse at a time in the course of reading stories that center around other things.

You can read just one piece — just the webcomic, or just one short story in an anthology somewhere — and if we’ve done our job right, that piece is perfectly enjoyable on its own. But we’re always hoping people will want to follow us down the rabbit hole and keep reading more pieces, getting deeper into the intricacies of the bigger tales we’re weaving out of the various pieces.

One of the most interesting things about doing it this way is that different readers will have different experiences depending on where they start reading. If you start with the webcomic, you encounter Bianca and you’re like, “Whoa, what’s her deal? Seems like something’s kind of creepy and sinister about her? What’s her species like? How’d she get her job? How’d she lose those fingers?” And if you keep reading the webcomic over time, you’ll eventually learn everything you need to know about her. Or, you could read my novelette “Bianca and the Wu-Hernandez” in the Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber anthology, to find out the truth without having to wait for the webcomic to get to it. On the other hand, if you read “Bianca and the Wu-Hernandez” before you read the webcomic, then your experience of Bianca showing up in the webcomic is entirely different, because you already know her backstory, so it’s sort of like watching the first season of Hannibal, where the viewer already knows Hannibal is a serial killer but the other characters in the show don’t know it yet.

One example of what I mean about story arcs emerging a piece at a time is the Witch-Queen of Gomothrax. The Witch-Queen is a very important character in the Weird Luck saga. She’s had a major influence on the big-picture-level story. But she hasn’t yet appeared in person in any published piece. Instead, readers are getting little hints. You see Gomothrax, her home, at the end of Andrew’s City of the Watcher trilogy, but you don’t get to meet her. She’s mentioned in Insurgent Otherworld, in a letter written by Cordy’s friend Chiku, a researcher of occult artifacts, who reveals some interesting things about her history. And near the end of “Bianca and the Wu-Hernandez,” we learn in passing that Smiley grew up on fairytales in which the Witch-Queen was a character. More of her story will emerge in the future, one small fragment at a time.

As for how the largest pieces we’ve published so far (or are about to publish) fit together chronologically…

  • The biggest single chunk of story so far is Andrew’s City of the Watcher Trilogy,which consists of the novels Weird Luck in the City of the Watcher, Time-Traveling Blues in the City of the Watcher, and Cannibal-King. Because it’s a time-travel story, all three books of the trilogy take place more or less at the same time.
  • Andrew’s story “Monsters,” which appears in the Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamberanthology, takes place about 6 months after the end of Cannibal-King. 
  • Insurgent Otherworld begins about 24 hours after the end of “Monsters,” and takes place over the course of a couple of months.
  • The opening scene of the Weird Luck webcomic takes place about 9 months after the end of Cannibal-King and just a few weeks after the end of Insurgent Otherworld. 
  • Next year, right after we finish serializing Insurgent Otherworld on the Weird Luck website we’ll begin publishing our next collaborative novel, Gods of the Endless Plateau, in weekly installments on the site. Gods of the Endless Plateau begins immediately after the end of Insurgent Otherworld, and takes place over a long enough period of time that parts of it will be concurrent with the first few volumes of the webcomic.
  • My novelette “Bianca and the Wu-Hernandez” takes place 28 years before the opening scene of the webcomic.
  • Andrew’s novel Wallflower Assassin takes place sometime after the first several planned volumes of the webcomic.

Stay tuned for the final part of this interview series! Next week, you’ll read about how the Weird Luck webcomic came into being, plus Nick and Andrew chat the future of WL and the relaunch of Argawarga Press as part of the Autonomous family. To make sure you don’t miss a post, like AutPress on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. While you’re at it, don’t forget to follow the Weird Luck Facebook page for even more WL updates!