Thursday, April 11, 2013

Authors Helping Authors: AJ Walkley's Kickstarter Campaign

Hi everyone,

I wanted to share this Kickstarter campaign from author AJ Walkley
Please take a few minutes to check it out here: 

Anyone who donates (any amount) to her campaign from today until April 17th will get a free ebook from my publisher.  The free ebook choice is from a list of selected titles and include Imprinted Souls, Wide Awake (Academy of the Fallen) or Mermaid's Curse


Here is my Q&A with AJ about her project! 

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your life as an author
Hi everyone! My name is A.J. Walkley and I am the author of Queer Greer and Choice. My third novel, Vuto, is currently undergoing a Kickstarter campaign to get published sometime this year. I have been a writer for as far back as I can remember. My parents bought me a journal when I was in 4th grade and that was it - I was hooked! I wrote detective stories with my cousin in elementary school, Hanson fan fiction in middle school, Slam poetry in high school and immediately chose to become an English Literature major/Creative Writing minor as soon as I got to college. I wrote a musical my freshman year around the music of Queen and many, many short stories throughout my college career. As soon as I graduated and returned from the Peace Corps, I set to work on my first full-length novel, Queer Greer. I love to tackle topics that make people think, from LGBT issues to abortion (Choice) to women's rights (Vuto).

2. Tell us about your current project and what inspired you to write it.
Vuto was inspired by my experience as a health volunteer in the U.S. Peace Corps. During my time in Malawi, Africa, I became much more aware of inequalities women face in the Third World. I was especially shocked by several customs that were difficult for me to wrap my Western head around - one of the most egregious being the "two-week rule" of birth. When a woman gives birth in the village, she cares for her child without the help of her husband for the first two weeks of it's life. If the child does not survive that two-week point, the father will never acknowledge that he had a son or daughter; the responsibility for the baby's burial falls solely on the mother and the women of the village. I could not imagine dealing with that alone as a mother. This made me think, what if one woman refused to follow this tradition? What would happen to her? This question formed the basis for the plot of Vuto, where a young woman who has already buried two babies before finds her third child dead before that two-week point; instead of burying her, she forces her husband to acknowledge his daughter, leading to her banishment. A Peace Corps volunteer takes Vuto in, only to be thrust into the middle of the situation when the husband arrives in the night to punish his wife for not truly leaving the village. The volunteer protects Vuto, killing the husband in the process. The two women must flee, encountering cultural, physical and ethical struggles along the way. 

3. What are some of the obstacles while writing Vuto?
One obstacle was incorporating vocabulary from the Malawian language of Chichewa into the book. I really wanted to give readers the feeling that they were experiencing Malawi like I did, and the language is integral to that experience. I think utilizing some of the words and explaining their meaning directly after a character uses one gets across what I was hoping for - not to mention including a glossary at the end of the book. It's also been several years since I've been to Malawi, so I wanted to make sure my memories were accurate. I had one of my best friends from my Peace Corps days proof the entire manuscript to assure that accuracy!

4. You started a Kickstarter campaign to help fund Vuto, and the project was trending (#1) on the very first day! What does it feel like to have the support of so many readers, family, and friends?
Thus far, it's been truly humbling to see so many people support this next book of mine. Friends from high school I haven't spoken to for the better part of a decade are donating, and not in small increments either! I am so fortunate to have so many people in my life who believe in me and my writing. I only hope I can keep this momentum going until my goal is reached!

5. When can readers expect to read Vuto?
Assuming my funding goal is reached, I'm hoping Vuto will be available for purchase by the end of this summer!

About Vuto:

Vuto is only 17 when her third child dies, mere days after birth.
Malawian tradition prevents men from considering a child their own until it’s lived for two weeks. Frustrated at not being able to speak to her husband, Solomon, about all three of the children she’s had to bury alone, Vuto forces him to acknowledge the dead baby. Her rejection of tradition causes Solomon and the village elders to banish Vuto from the only home she’s ever known.
Vuto seeks refuge in the hut of U.S. Peace Corps volunteer Samantha Brennan, where Solomon discovers his wife has not left as she was told, leading him to attack both women. Disregarding her oath to remain uninvolved in village politics, Samantha interjects herself into the center of the conflict, defending Vuto and killing Solomon in the process.
The women go on the run from Vuto’s village and the Peace Corps, encountering physical, ethical and cultural struggles along the way.
Vuto was inspired by A.J. Walkley’s experience in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer in 2007.


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