Starhawk Kickstarts Anticipated Sequel to Bestselling Fantasy Epic The Fifth Sacred Thing

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After former publisher passes, acclaimed author elects to self-publish City of Refuge, the final installation in her utopian fantasy trilogy through crowdfunding on Kickstarter.

Cover for City of Refuge

City of Refuge by Starhawk

Now more than ever, the world needs stories that demonstrate a positive vision of the future... Imagine the books that could be written when authors are freed from the tyranny of the gatekeepers and the tastemakers!

Bestselling author Starhawk has launched a well-received Kickstarter campaign to support the self-publishing of her newest epic City of Refuge, the sequel to her classic utopian fantasy novel The Fifth Sacred Thing. The decision to self-publish came after former publisher Bantam Books passed on the manuscript, stating they did not believe there was an audience for a sequel to a book 20 years old. Fans have overwhelmingly proven otherwise, as the campaign garnered nearly 700 pre-order pledges totaling more than $35,000 USD in the first week.

City of Refuge is a utopian fantasy that opens in the once green and flourishing city-state of Califa (a re-imagined San Francisco), in 2049. As the Califians replant their garden streets and rebuild their verdant city after they successfully resist an invasion by the ruthless Stewards, they struggle to integrate the defectors and heal the victims. But the war is not over; as long as the Stewards rule the Southlands (a fictional vision of Southern California), they remain a threat.

“Writing fiction is sometimes akin to a form of insanity,” says Starhawk— “you sit there for hours immersed in your own internal imagery, listening to voices that take on a life of their own... As I was developing The Fifth Sacred Thing for the screen, my characters kept saying to me: 'There’s more to our story. Bring us alive again, tell the rest of the tale...’ Then I had a dream:  ‘Every city needs three things: a plaza, a hearth and a sacred tree. Build a city of refuge in the heartland of the enemy.’ ”

The long-awaited sequel follows the sacrifices and victories of the nonviolent warriors from Califa as they construct a haven in the parched and war-torn Southlands. Beloved healer Madrone, wounded warrior Bird, and pirate lovers Isis and Sara join new characters Smokee (a bitter former sex slave) and reformed soldier River to mount a resistance in the Southlands. Both Bird and Madrone have committed their lives to nonviolence, and their dilemma— how to build a new world without resorting to the very violence they are resisting— is the question whose answer illustrates a message of hope for contemporary readers worldwide.

Starhawk explains her decision to self-publish her newest work after Bantam, who originally published The Fifth Sacred Thing in 1993, passed on the manuscript: “There is nobody at Bantam any longer who has a connection to the book, and the top editors I remember from those days have all left. But I know there’s an audience for the book, and a hunger for what the book offers. Now more than ever, the world needs stories that demonstrate a positive vision of the future. With all the changes in the publishing industry also comes grand opportunities for writers to determine their own destinies. Imagine the books that could be written when authors are freed from the tyranny of the gatekeepers and the tastemakers!”

The Kickstarter campaign launched on August 4th and will run through August 31st. In the first day alone, Starhawk’s project received more than $22,000 from over 400 backers around the world, putting it at 40% of its goal in 24 hours. Backers of the campaign are rewarded with advanced, Kickstarter-exclusive special edition copies of City of Refuge before they are available anywhere else. The funds raised will help to cover the cost of editing, design, artwork, distribution and printing for the book.

About Starhawk:
Starhawk is an author, activist, permaculture designer and teacher, and one of the most respected voices in modern Goddess religion, wiccan and pagan studies, and earth-based spirituality. She is in constant demand as a speaker, lecturer and workshop leader, and travels worldwide, lecturing and teaching on earth-based spirituality, the tools of ritual, and the skills of activism, reaching thousands of people in a year. She is the author or coauthor of twelve books, including the classics The Spiral Dance and The Fifth Sacred Thing.  Her latest nonfiction work is The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups, and forthcoming in the winter of 2015 is City of Refuge, the long-awaited sequel to The Fifth Sacred Thing. Starhawk directs Earth Activist Training, teaching permaculture design grounded in spirit with a focus on organizing and activism. She lives part time in San Francisco and part time on her ranch in Sonoma County, which she is developing as a model of carbon-sequestering land use techniques. Her website is

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Alli Gallixsee
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