By Kayley Stanbridge
This issue we speak with Sofia, who is a second-year English and Creative Writing student at the University of Birmingham, and who decided that she wanted to print a Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy (SFF) anthology of works by other students at the university. “We've just recently started working on it seriously – the sign up process was long, but I am happy to say nearly thirty people are going to be working on this!”
Sofia explains that the inspiration behind this idea to create an anthology is because of one of her university modules. “I am taking an editing module, which is pretty much all about creating the anthology – we will submit it as an assessment at the end of the semester. For the module, we just have to include a contents page – not actually any stories – but I decided it would be fun to take this a step further and actually create a real, printed anthology!”
Sofia tells us that the anthology will include eighteen stories in total, as well as two or three art pieces. Most of these stories will be prose, but there will also be a few poems as well.
“The stories range in length and in theme; science fiction and fantasy are actually quite broad, so we have everything from faeries to space lesbians. Most of the representation is sapphic or non-binary as I believe this is how most of the writers identify, but there is a good range, which I believe is important as well.” As of right now, Sofia is aiming for the release of this anthology to be at the end of June.
When we asked Sofia why she had chosen science fiction and fantasy as the genre for the anthology, she explained that it was “probably out of personal interest more than anything … I grew up on fantasy, so the genre holds a special place in my heart. And I’ve always wanted to see more queer representation in science fiction and fantasy.” She explains that a big part of it was wanting to see more queer representation which isn’t centred around a queer character coming out. “I wanted more stories where cool people fight dragons and also just happen to be queer.”
We asked Sofia what she thought of the current queer represent in literature both SFF and in other genres and Sofia tells us that she thinks “it is getting much better… and more often than not, it is good representation as well which is really important to note.”
“Books like She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, The Unbroken by C.L Clark and The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (the holy trinity), do an incredible job not only in queer representation but also in decolonising fantasy. There are so many more examples of queer books that are changing the game – thinking of Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas and I love that I can genuinely say I will never run out of wonderful queer books to read.”
The anthology will be in print, and Sofia explains that she will be running pre-orders around the beginning/middle of June. “We will only print the number of copies pre-ordered and then it will be gone, so make sure to keep an eye on our socials in June for that link! I am aiming to get every person who participated in the project a free copy of the anthology, but this is entirely a non-profit project which hopefully means the cost will be relatively low.” The anthology will also be digital, and Sofia is in the process of arranging for a digital copy of the anthology to be made available after June on Amazon, with all of the profits of this going to a charity working for LGBTQ+ rights.
We asked Sofia what challenges she has faced during this process so far: “the biggest challenge so far has probably been trying to not be buried under the amount of google forms and spreadsheets I have had to make. As well as making sure everything is organised. There was a good amount of people interested in participating, so picking who would be on the team was a pain. The team I have now is really incredible though!”
On why Sofia wants to work in the publishing industry she tells us: “there are many reasons why I want to work in the industry but putting this anthology together has shown me how much I truly love working in a team to put something together, we are all passionate about and watch it come to life. No promises about not crying a lake once we are all holding the finished book in our hands! Books have made a big difference in my life (in all of ours), and I would love to bring some people even a little bit of the happiness they have given me in return.”
To keep up to date with the anthology, be sure to follow – @queersffanthology on Instagram and @queersffanth on Twitter. You can also follow Sofia @sososalazar on Instagram and @sofiaspages on Twitter.