In early 2011, I was fiddling around on the internet and came across this Splashdown Books website, Avenir Eclectia. The concept of world shared among many authors intrigued me. I’d never written a story between 150-400 words as the guidelines asked, but I decided to challenge myself. Little did I guess how involved I would become!
The story and world of Avenir Eclectia sucked me in, and I’m glad to be a part of it. Recently, the first anthology of Avenir stories was published, and in celebration of that release, I thought a bit of an inside look on Avenir Eclectia with publisher Grace Bridges was in order.
How did you first come up with the idea for Avenir Eclectia?
- I was chatting with fellow publisher Kristine Pratt of Written World Communications in November of 2010, and she told me about a non-fiction book she was planning. It was to have one-page contributions on a common theme from 100 authors. So I got to thinking, what if we did that for fiction? From there it was a deliberate setup to include aspects for all speculative writers: science fiction, fantasy and supernatural.
What made you decide to open it to other authors instead of keeping it for your own future projects?
- It was never anything else to begin with. The whole concept was created FOR group collaboration. I may have written the first few chunks, but after that it really took on a life of its own and I’ve loved watching it happen!
What’s it like to see a world you came up with in the hands and imaginations of other writers?
- It’s been so cool to see how the simple initial concept expanded in the words of our authors. To begin with, all I had was “Planet – space station – underwater city – sentient ocean life – moon mines.” It’s almost as if I came up with a concept for a novel and other people are writing it for me. But it’s more than that – every contributor has made it their own and I love that.
What’s the coolest thing that’s happened so far with Avenir Eclectia? The funniest? The hardest?
- It’s awesome to see people taking up my vision and running with it. Most submissions fit right into the world concept with at most minor tweaks. Occasionally I get one that totally doesn’t fit, such as stories that contain birds or aliens, neither of which exist in this storyworld. That’s really hard to have to tell an author that their work isn’t going to fly with Avenir at all. They have to start from scratch.
Another really amazing thing is how our main artist, Mike Rogers, comes up with these images that so precisely describe the Avenir world, and he gets that from looking at the stories without much further consultation. For example, the image titled “Tomika’s Quarters” that goes with Kat Heckenbach’s stories – she never had to describe to him what the apartment looks like, and yet she knew when she saw this picture of his that it was exactly what she intended. No, really, exactly.
And of course the music Mike makes for us is another crazy special feature.
Do any of the stories stick out as your favorites?
- I particularly love the ones that interweave with each other, such as when I created the character of Smith initially, but Fred Warren has taken him and developed him much further. Characters from different authors meet each other and interact; I love that and the huge scope of the world that’s emerging.
Where do you see Avenir Eclectia going in the future?
- I’d like to see some novel-length works coming out of it. A few are in the works and I even have an idea for one myself. I envision this becoming a run-on series for Splashdown, continuing to publish books for as long as there are stories on the site to support it. We need more contributors all the time and I would love to see us at least double our authors!
Grace Bridges owns Splashdown Books, a speculative fiction indie press that favours submissions from writers within the management’s known circles. Its titles have collected a dozen award recognitions to date. Splashdown is poised to become a premiere New Zealand press by virtue of its unique personal contact acquisitions method, author-team management structure, international vision, and determination for excellence. Grace is the current president of SpecFicNZ and has two published novels. She is a New Zealander of Irish descent and a multilingual do-it-yourself force to be reckoned with.
A graduate of the University of Auckland and a translator by trade, she spent eight years globetrotting chiefly in Europe while working for the police and also completing her first novels. She has lived in Germany and Ireland, but now, when not travelling, resides in her original homeland with a cat and approximately six boarders within sight of several volcanos. Often found staring into trees in search of a tui, she is a mystic wordnerd, urbanite hermit, and a writer of futuristic dreams that mess with your mind.