Once Upon a Time: An Interview with C. L. McCollum

CLICK ME to buy!
CLICK ME to buy!

I’m so excited about my guest on The Belle today.  Author and editor C. L. McCollum is going to be talking about her newest endeavor:  Once Upon a Time, A Cliches for a Cause Anthology to benefit RAINN.

Introduce yourself and tell us a little about why you’re visiting the blog today. 

Hiya! I’m Caitlan aka C.L. McCollum (@C_L_McCollum on Twitter), and I am one of the co-editors and authors for the Clichés for a Cause anthology series. The newest book in the series, ONCE UPON A TIME, was just released on June 19th, and Lexxx has been gracious enough to offer to interview me about the book!

As far as me, I’m a 30-something Texas girl currently living in Austin. I’m a fan of SFF and most of my work tends to fall into that genre with occasional dabbling into magical realism. I also am most comfortable writing in the YA and NA categories. Those age groups just seem to be where my writing fits best.

 

 What is the “Clichés for a Cause” project?

The Clichés for a Cause project is a series of anthologies sponsored by Herding Cats Press with the proceeds from each book in the series going to a different charity. The first book was the brainchild of Mitchell Lehnert, another member of our writing group, but it’s since grown into a full series. There are only two books so far, but we hope to continue to add installments as time goes on.

 

 How did Herding Cats Creative Writing become involved with RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) and why did you choose this particular charity?

We aren’t directly involved/affiliated with www.rainn.org – it was chosen simply because it’s a charity that is close to our hearts. Of the contributors, there are more than one of us who have personally experienced abuse or have family and loved ones who have. I personally hadn’t known RAINN existed during the abusive relationship I was in several years ago, but knowing that there was an organization to help people find their way out of those situations would have been a huge aid at the time. Now, I like to hope that our contributing of the proceeds of this anthology, no matter how much those proceeds actually end up being, might help RAINN to keep providing that aid to those who need it.

 

 Tell us a little about your process as editor of a large anthology like this.

We actually had four editors working together on this anthology: myself and August Clearwing as lead editors, and two associate editors, Gerald Sallier and Elaine Titus who helped with the content/copyediting tasks. We actually had several group sessions where we all signed into the same google doc and all four of us could confer/add comments/point out sections of the story we had questions about. It definitely helped to have four sets of eyes on each story; it made me a lot more confident that we didn’t miss major issues/errors since each of us had completely different grammar/content things that we were really good at catching. We also did several rounds of editing, focusing first on content and then on copyedits, which I think worked well for us. It was still a learning experience, though, so hopefully we’ll be even more thorough and efficient with the next book in the series.

 

 What can readers expect from Once Upon a Time?    

ONCE UPON A TIME contains 15 illustrated re-told fairy tales from 29 different authors and artists. The only rule we gave our authors was that their story must start with the words “Once upon a time…” Beyond that, they could go wild. We have everything from steampunk to sci-fi to contemporary to epic fantasy to satire, and the illustrations from our artists are just as diverse. I really can’t pick a favorite story or image frankly (though admittedly I’m partial to the illustrations for my stories LOL).

 

 Once Upon a Time is a follow up to last year’s It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.  What did you learn about producing an anthology from that experience?

What didn’t we learn from IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT? LOL We’re all incredibly proud of the fact that we got it put together and finished, but there were quite a few hiccups and mistakes along the way. We also definitely got overwhelmed with the sheer amount of things we needed to accomplish. I feel like we had a much better idea of the overall work that goes into putting an anthology together with ONCE UPON A TIME. Even little things like having group editing days planned and scheduled before the actual story due date were a huge help to our sanity.

We learned things from this anthology, too, honestly. I don’t think we’re ever going to have an anthology where we don’t look back and think “OK we could have done that thing better – let’s make a note for the next one.”

 Art seems to be a big part of these anthologies.  Beautiful, original illustrations are featured with each story.  How did you go about bringing together such great visual artists to participate in this project?

Honestly most of it was long-term networking that ended up having amazing side effects. A couple of the artists from DARK & STORMY were friends I’d known for years either in real life or online. When the time came to put together a pool of artists for ONCE UPON A TIME, one of those original artists, Angela Sasser (www.angelasasser.com), asked if she could mention the anthology to a small Facebook group she was part of. We said sure, and the next thing I knew, I had 12 emails in like 15 minutes. I heard over and over again that everyone was 1) a fan of fairy tales and 2) thrilled to get to be involved with a project earning money for RAINN.

It was incredibly humbling to have that kind of support from strangers just rolling in that way. The authors were all at least known to one or more of the Herding Cats folks so no one was a complete unknown, but most of the artists were people I’d never worked or talked with before. With several of them, I’d seen their art before and was a fan, but I wouldn’t have felt comfortable approaching them regarding the anthology. So having Angela step in was just a huge part of how incredible the anthology turned out. She wasn’t able to contribute art to this book which we were all bummed about, but I can’t wait to get to collaborate with her on the next book. So yeah, so, so much thanks to her for that!

 

 Once Upon a Time is available right now!  Tell us where we can get it!!

The physical copy of the anthology is currently available on Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-Time-Charity-Anthology/dp/1514326493/  The eBook will be released within the next week. For more information about Book I: IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT or upcoming anthologies in the Clichés for a Cause series, please visit www.herdcatspress.com or our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HerdingCatsPress. Herding Cats Press is also on Twitter: @herdcatspress