sffworld.com: The Setbacks and Joys of Universe Building by M. J. Kelley

universe building interspecies mjkelley kosa press

Founder and publisher of Kōsa Press writes about staying true to a team’s creative vision during the production of Interspecies in an article originally published on SFFWorld.com, one of the largest and longest running speculative fiction sites on the web.

What is a creative vision? How do you stay true to it? And what are some of the setbacks and challenges to writing with a team for a shared universe? Kelley tackles these questions and more.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

We were on the eve of another final draft deadline and the second round of edits had just been returned by our editor. After reading through the edits, I put my head in my hands.

None of the stories were where they needed to be. A couple were closer than others, but the changes we had made failed to bring Interspecies–our shared-universe anthology–into a cohesive, solidified vision.

The goal was to collaboratively build a universe from the ground up and then write stories not only based in that universe but in the same geographic locations and timeline. At first the prospect was thrilling. At the end of 2014, a group of writers from my writer’s workshop formed a team to pull off this goal. In February 2015, I founded Kōsa Press, the label that would publish these stories and safeguard the universe. And in July 2015, we published These Broken Worlds, an anthology of flash fiction stories and the first foray into this universe, a planned precursor to Interspecies.

Fast-forward to our second round of edits, and I found myself wondering if Interspecies was even possible. Since putting out These Broken Worlds, the struggle had been real and demoralizing and seemed staggering at times. Every fix meant to bring cohesion to one element of the shared world only broke continuity in other stories that were previously fine.

Why had this universe worked so well for These Broken Worlds. Why wasn’t it working now forInterspecies? As the publisher and project manager, it was my job to have an answer and to formulate a plan of action.

But the answer staring me in the face was one I didn’t want to accept. The answer wasn’t hard to grasp. It didn’t take much introspection or inference. The answer was there in the edits.

Read the rest here.


Interspecies volume 1 kosa pressInterspecies was in the top ten bestselling science fiction anthologies on Amazon’s bestseller list upon its release. It’s received rave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon from early readers and Keith West, reviewer at Adventure Fantastic and Futures Past and Present, said “Interspecies is a solid science fiction anthology that provides entertaining reading for a thinking person and sets a high bar. . . . These are writers to watch.” The book was featured in Venture Galleries’ Book of the Moment Club, and Piers Anthony, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Xanth Series, said these are “hard-hitting stories about a grim future world. . . . I found the exploration mind-stretching . . .” Interspecies is only 99c on Amazon until June 7th.

MJ_Kelley_HeadshotM.J. Kelley is a published short story author, speculative fiction aficionado, and humorist with a passion for education. He is the founder and publisher at Kōsa Press, the founder and director of Write Draft Critique, and holds an MFA in Fiction from Mills College. He’s fond of fog and can peel a carrot with a look. M. J. dwells in San Francisco, CA, seasonally as well as year round.

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