(please also see the Submission Guidelines)
1. Q. Will this anthology be available as a printed book?
A. No. At this time there are a variety of reasons that would prevent a print version of this anthology from being created. Every effort will be made to make the anthology available in every e-book format, however.
2. Q. Do I need to identify as a woman to submit?
A. No! Anyone, regardless of their gender identification, may submit so long as they follow the submission guidelines.
3. Q. Why is so much stress placed on “no sexual violence?” Why not simply say “family friendly?”
A. There seems to be an unreasonable number of women characters in fantasy fiction who fall prey to sexual violence, who narrowly avoid sexual violence, or whose lives are in some other way affected by sexual violence. Far too often “rapist” is used as shorthand for “Bad Person,” making the act less about the character who was victimized and rather about the assailant, something that lessens the impact of a truly horrendous crime against another person. If it is about the victim it’s not uncommon for an act of sexual violence to be the only motivating factor for their strength and their heroism. This anthology aims to be one place where these trends do not hold true.
However those who want to avoid reading about rape, sexual assault, or any other forms of sexual violence don’t need to be handled with kid gloves. They can read about consensual sex acts or “clean violence” (the sort of violence one would expect in an action movie about men; violence that has nothing to do with an abusive bent or seems a way to prove that one character is “less than” the other – a character who gets her ribs broken while fighting a hydra is vastly different than a character suffering from sexual violence). Other “adult” themes are welcome so long as they do not violate the spirit of this anthology.
3a. Q. But isn’t sexual violence something that happens in real life?
A. While it is true in the real world that about 1 in 4 women will suffer from sexual violence in their lifetime there is no reason for it in a fictional story that is 7,500 words or less. Fiction is ultimately the creation of a writer or writers and in the end it is up to them to decide what is and is not included in their work. If you are unable to write a story of 7,500 words or less that is completely devoid of all references to sexual violence then this is not the anthology for you.
3b. Q. Doesn’t this send a message that women who have suffered from sexual violence are not worth reading about, are nothing more than the sum of this terrible experience, and/or should feel ashamed?
A. While some survivors of sexual violence want to read about other survivors living their lives – taking revenge on their abusers, having an active love life, just living – others are uncomfortable reading any references to sexual violence. Neither is the wrong way to deal with the emotional fall out of sexual violence, everyone in the world has different coping mechanisms that get them through traumatic periods in their lives. However, for those who want to read about heroines facing life after sexual violence there are already a lot of options out there. Some are better than others but there are a great many quality works out there that already provide them just that experience. There are not nearly enough options for the survivors who are looking to avoid these references. This anthology is trying to step in and fill a gap some feel needs to be filled, people who would rather read a story with no mention of sexual violence, not because they don’t feel that those women are unimportant but because they are looking for an escape from that theme. Making it an explicit requirement not only tells those who wish to submit what they can and cannot include but it also tells a potential reader that this book is safe for them.
So the simple answer is that while this is the message some might feel the book delivers, there are people this anthology is meant to touch and some of them asked for something just like this. For these people, the ones who are looking, it is something they feel a need for and something they feel will help them. It’s regrettable that there isn’t a solution for everyone but that just isn’t possible with so many different ways to heal.
4. Q. My short story is set in the world of one of my novels/past stories, there is no sexual violence in THIS story but there has been in past incarnations of this world. Is this acceptable?
A. Obviously these guidelines apply only to any stories in this anthology and do not restrict an author’s full body of work. However if the world you are writing in is linked to a past history of sexual violence that you left out for the purpose of this book it would be appreciated if you would disclose this information in your submission letter along with where the past work can be found. It won’t necessarily mean rejection but as some readers might purchase this collection purely for examples of writers who avoid sexual violence in their work it would be disingenuous to point them to you without any warning. Regardless of anything else in the world please remember that all characters in the story you submit cannot have any ties to sexual violence.
5. Q. What if my characters aren’t raped but rape is attempted and they punish their attacker?
A. This will be rejected. The purpose of this anthology is to highlight stories with no sexual violence.
5a. Q. What if they are punishing the rapist of another character?
A. This story will be rejected, see above.
6. Q. Will I be paid?
A. No. This is a charity anthology, 100% of the sales will be donated to the group SAFER. None of the other writers nor the editor will be making any money from this project.
6a. Q. Will I retain all rights to my work?
A. Yes, writers will retain all of their rights, both foreign and domestic. As I am open to running reprints I do not need first publication rights or first epublication rights. Obviously this means that if your story is sold elsewhere you must ensure it can be reprinted by the time Iron Maidens is released (winter 2012)
7. Q. Are you saying all books/stories with rape are bad?
A. No, some of them certainly have their place in the world of literature – both speculative fiction and otherwise. There is most assuredly a call for stories that both tell the story of the struggle of the emotional trauma of sexual violence and stories that show a woman can be more than simply a victim of something from her past. But there is also a call for stories that don’t talk about it. There is a time and a place for both of these, this happens to be the time and the place for the latter.
8. Q. What about male victims of sexual violence?
A. As an anti-rape activist I don’t condone any forms of sexual violence against anyone, regardless of gender identification, and am working to make the world safer for everyone. SAFER is a like minded organization that encourages students to help shape policies at their schools that will protect every person.
However, the focus of this anthology is on female characters because they are the ones most often associated with sexual violence in fictional settings. Male characters suffer from other stereotypes that might be harmful but those stereotypes are not the focus of this anthology.