Women In Practical Armor – Happy Birthday Gabrielle Harbowy!

WIPAOkay so I really meant to post this yesterday, but I was sick most of this week (much better now thank you!) and crashed early last night.

For those just tuning in, Women in Practical Armor is a Kickstarter project by Evil Girlfriend Media. It’s an anthology of empowered women who probably look a lot like this:



I had a chance to ask co-editor, Gabrielle Harbowy some questions about Women in Practical Armor.

Shadow: What prompted the idea for Women in Practical Armor?

 Gabrielle: Ed Greenwood and I were sitting in a cafe having breakfast at a convention in April, 2013, pondering our next moves as an anthology-editing team. We had already done When the Hero Comes Home, When the Villain Comes Home, and a second volume of Hero stories. The sequel had come at the request of some authors who hadn’t known about the first book in time…partly because as a fledgling editor, I’d considered them far out of my league! So it was a thrill when people like Mercedes Lackey and Elaine Cunningham and Julie Czerneda sought us out and asked us if there would be future volumes they could contribute to.
So, we were starting to build our reputation, but at the same time, we didn’t want to run the Hero/Villain line into the ground to the point that it became comical, which was a real danger if we kept doing “When the [Blank] Comes Home” books. Over strong tea, we started brainstorming.
There was already something of a call for women in realistic armor out there in the world. I already followed (and loved) the “women in reasonable armor” tumblr. We knew we wanted to do something around the theme of female empowerment, and this idea — one of many — made it onto our short list. Now that we knew readers — and writers! — would want multiple volumes of related anthologies, and we picked this topic partly because we saw a lot of different ways to expand it into a whole line of anthologies. We started working on our pitch as soon as we got home from the convention.
Shadow: When you pitched it to Katie Cord, what was her reaction?
Gabrielle: Katie’s reaction was overwhelmingly positive. She expressed huge interest and excitement for it, and was honest with us that it would take a while to get it lined up. Ed and I discussed, and decided that we were in no rush, and we liked knowing that our project was with a publisher who believed in it and wanted to take the time to do it right.
Shadow: Why pitch it to Evil Girlfriend Media?
Gabrielle: I had worked with EGM before, from the author side, in Witches, Stitches and Bitches, an anthology edited by Shannon Page, whom I had edited in When the Hero Comes Home. (Need a scorecard yet?) We’d been pitching the anthology to a few different markets, without much of a nibble, and I knew from my own experience that EGM was committed to fiction that breaks stereotypes and that spotlights female empowerment. Shannon encouraged me to contact EGM.
Shadow: Was there anything that surprised you in the slush pile?
Gabrielle: A lot of things surprised us in the slush pile! Do you mean in a good way or a bad way? 😉
In a good way…: Ed and I read most of the submissions blind (except in the case of a very few authors we went to and specifically asked for stories). I loved how many stories came in through the slush pile from writers I don’t know personally, but whose names I know and whose writing I love. And also, how many amazing stories came from undiscovered authors. This is the first sale, or first “professional rate” sale, for a higher number of our authors than you’d guess, based on the quality and sophistication of their stories.
Shadow: What have been some of your favorite things about this anthology?
Gabrielle: Everyone we talk with loves the theme, and is happy that we’re spotlighting such a relevant issue in fantasy literature. We’ve gotten a lot of support from backers and readers, and our authors are completely invested, too. It’s not just a writing prompt, for all of us it’s also a cause.
I also love, love, love the book cover. The photograph EGM chose for us is PERFECT. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Shadow: What’s your least favorite thing about putting together an anthology?
Gabrielle: When submissions close and I can’t look forward to more stories arriving in my inbox.
When we’ve made our decisions and we’re SO EXCITED, but we can’t go public or let our authors announce their sales yet.
Shadow: Do you think women have a more truthful representation in speculative fiction now than in earlier years? Why or why not?
Gabrielle: I think “truthful” is a problematic word, for two reasons: First, when it comes to the human experience, there is no one definitive truth. Everyone sees the world through the filter of their own experience. Second, speculative fiction doesn’t have an obligation to be about truth; it’s about the “what if.” What is “true” in an author’s invented secondary world is not what is “true” in this world, and that’s part of what we love about speculative fiction — the opportunity to visit many different realities.
Women in Practical Armor isn’t about a “more truthful” representation of women, it’s about choosing to represent women in a certain way. Historically speaking, the examples of women going off to war are few and far between. We are making our own realities, where empowered women can follow their callings, while still being products of their own societies. We didn’t want to limit ourselves to reflecting actual history, and we didn’t want a book full of modern 21st century women who happen to be moving against the backdrop of another historical era. We wanted to posit our own “what if” as a starting point for these stories.
Shadow: What message do you want Women in Practical Armor to send to the public?
Gabrielle: We’re here, we’re kick-ass, read our book! (And leave a review!)
Women in Practical Armor funded in just over 2 days but we aren’t finished yet!  Help us reach stretch goals including a short story by Gabrielle and Ed. We have more stretch goals, but they can only be revealed by reaching the next milestone.

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