What Makes Me a Wapsi Girl:
I’ve had to deal my entire life with the stigma of being overweight, but that’s not really what this is about. I’d like to tell you about my failed master’s thesis, and the project that rose from its ashes.
In graduate school, I studied Medieval History, and my specialty was women’s monastic spirituality. Nuns, basically. When it came time to write my master’s thesis, my advisor and I couldn’t agree on most of my premises. I essentially wrote three separate theses, and he wouldn’t approve any of them, because I was using a gender-focused approach, examining ways in which nuns were treated differently than monks because, well, they were female. Unlike most modern scholars, he didn’t see this as a valid direction for my research to take. I eventually wound up completing my master’s degree via a written exam rather than a thesis defense, which essentially ended my academic career. I’m applying back to school this fall to an MLS program, so that I can become an archivist, but in the meantime I wanted to prove that I could write something the length and complexity of a thesis or even dissertation successfully. That’s the source of my first novel, The Nativity of St. Genevieve.
I write in a medieval-fantasy world where magic really exists and is controlled by the Catholic Church. In this novel, via two female characters, an old midwife and her young apprentice, I’m exploring issues of community identity formation – what makes one person a saint and another a witch. For various reasons, I’m not entirely sanguine about publishing through a traditional publisher – primarily because due to the main character’s young age, I think they’ll brand it as a YA novel, even though I’ve done my best to make the issues complex enough to engage adult readers.
I’ve been a reader of Wapsi Square for about three years now, since the middle of my stint in graduate school, and I’ve always been intrigued by the Wapsi Girl project, but I never felt like I had something worthwhile to share. The reason I’m writing now is because I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to have my novel formatted for ebook readers, and pay an artist to do cover art, so that I can sell the book myself through Amazon, B&N, and all the other ebook outlets. Independent ebooks have taken off in a big way in the last year or so, and I’m excited by the opportunities they present in opposition to traditional publishing. I would really appreciate if you could share this with your other readers, to help me get my project off the ground and funded, to help prove that a woman can do whatever she puts her mind to, and be successful at it.
The website for my Kickstarter project is at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/christinevanmater/the-nativity-of-st-genevieve
I also have a blog at http://christinevanmater.blogspot.com/
Even if you choose not to share my project (but I hope you do!) thank you for taking the time to read all of this.
-Christine Van Mater
What Makes Me a Wapsi Girl: