Introducing:

The Shale Project is a multimedia storytelling initiative roughly in the shape of a planet. It's about three things:

Worldbuilding

On Shale, no story is truly a stand-alone. Each work further adds to the planet’s history, building the world across continents and over centuries. We aim to create an engaging home base for the stories we tell, and explore everything from international trade disputes to local coming-of-age ceremonies.

Storytelling

Art often requires us to be geologists and linguists and occasional assassins. But above all, we are storytellers. The Shale Project is a place for us to explore our love of storytelling through a variety of mediums, and to create exciting, dynamic content for a curious audience.

Art as Medicine

Our philosophy is that the stories we tell on Shale should not only serve to entertain, but to help us critically examine our own lives and experiences on Earth (or whatever planet you currently inhabit!). Through our stories, we strive to foster a culture of connection, empathy, and curiosity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wait, so what is this exactly?

The Shale Project is best described as a multimedia storytelling initiative roughly in the shape of a planet! We see Shale as a hub for all of the stories we publish, and treat it like a worldbuilding playground. Our award-winning website provides the tools to navigate different parts of the planet that are featured in our stories, and offers more in-depth information on these places. Feel free to ask us questions about the planet as well–your curiosity helps us to know where you’d like to see us grow!

Why build a planet?

Well, because we wanted to. We believe that storytelling is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and that it is absolutely essential to the human experience. At the very least, it’s how we keep ourselves sane. Using the entire planet as a resource gives us the opportunity to interweave these stories on a large scale. As artists, it creates a sense of consequence. Sometimes, the tiniest things can change the entire world. Sometimes, the big things aren’t actually that big. We’re just trying to process the whole point of existence. No biggie.

On a less existentially fraught note, it’s just a whole lot of fun to do! There are a lot of questions we have about our own world that we are able to explore and play with here. How do people navigate a world far less globalized than Earth? What if money wasn’t the primary tool of exchange? Precisely how big and ugly can we make a creature called a “molewhale” before it goes from an adorable mascot to a blight on society?

When do you plan on opening up the rest of the planet?

It takes a long time write a story, but I assure you that we intend to touch down on every continent! So far, we have focused pretty heavily on North Berena, the settings of The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming and Tales from a Library. As new locations are featured in in our works, new detailed segments of the website will open up. Sign up for our email list to be the first to hear when new locations have been unlocked.

I want to write a story for Shale!

We’re so glad that you’re excited about the project! Unfortunately, we are not currently accepting story submissions. However, if you are interested in worldbuilding alongside us and have a specific skill to offer (visual artists, costumers, musicians, etc), please shoot us an email at hello@welcometoshale.com. We may be interested in checking out your portfolio and seeing if you’d be a good fit as a one-time or regular contributor!

Where can I find your fine works?

Sienna Tristen’s The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming is available both through Amazon and many book retailers–click here for more details! The first chapters are also available to read for free, so you can get an idea of if it might be for you. If you like what you’ve read, please feel free to leave a review on Goodreads and spread the word about both Heretic’s Guide and Shale itself!

If you’re looking for free content, Avi Silver’s web serial Tales from a Library is available in its entirety here.

How can I help Shale continue to grow?

Thank you so much for wanting to support us! The best way to help us out (aside from engaging with the stories we tell!) is by becoming a patron over on our Patreon. For as little as $1 a month, your name will be featured in the back of the books we publish, and higher donations give you access to all sorts of bonus content. All of the money we receive helps us continue to run The Shale Project and help it expand!

I want to smooch Ronoah, is that allowed?

That’s his choice, really. We’re just the publicists.

Creators and
Contributors

It takes a pantheon to build a planet. We are so grateful to all who have supported Shale in its earliest years, but we give special thanks to Rebecca Spence, Alex Wright, and Neil Hughes for all of the invaluable help they have provided.

Please take an opportunity to look through the works of our brilliant contributors, and send us an email at hello@welcometoshale.com if you think you have something to offer the project! As the planet grows, we hope to see the pantheon do the same.

patreon wordmark

The Shale Project is made possible by our incredible supporters over on Patreon. Thank you so much to Carisa, Cass Meehan, Cheryl Hamilton, Dana Doucette, Emily Colgan, Jamie Harsip, Joy Silvey, Laurence Dion, Lily Ray Davis, Minh, Natalie Lythe, KTFartes, Rebecca Diem, Regan, Spenser Chicoine, and Susan Meehan. This would not be possible without you!

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Sienna Tristen is the author of Shale’s flagship project, The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming. As the Shale’s resident linguist, she’s responsible for nearly all of the planet’s languages and names. Many of the regions’ economic and agricultural realities come from her hours of eager research, and she can spit out a creation myth any time. She is currently working on the second book of The Heretic’s Guide.

Sienna Tristen

Fickle God of the Harvest
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Haley Rose is the award-winning cover artist for Shale’s works of fiction, including The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming and Two Dark Moons. When she isn’t drowning out the demands of the masses to “draw me“, she works as a posing artist and character designer in Toronto. She received her Bachelor’s in Animation from Sheridan.

Haley Rose

She Who Draws Your Doom
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Carisa Catherine graduated from York University in 2018 with a BA in psychology, but her true love has always been theatre. Fueled by caffeine and musical soundtracks, she is willing to part with her video games only to make the occasional transformation into a shalledra. Bow before her!

Carisa Catherine

The Shalledra Melailah
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Avi Silver is the author of two works from Shale: the queer YA fantasy novel Two Dark Moons, and the web serial Tales from a Library. They are also responsible for much of the website’s upkeep and content creation. To absolutely no one’s surprise, it was their choice to make shalledrim capable of purring. Currently, they are hard at work on the next book in the Sãoni Cycle! Follow them on twitter to watch them cry about it.

Avi Silver

Meddling God of Despair
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Irene Zhong is a 2018 graduate of Melbourne Conservatorium as a Bachelor of Music specializing in Composition, and The Shale Project could not be more blessed to call them Master Composer! At any given moment they are about six coffees deep into work on their concept album, their commissions, and the Heretic’s Guide album. Catch them tweeting about Mitski, devouring inspiring content, and picking up as many instruments as their arms can carry.

Irene Zhong

Cygmian Hoopsnake Wrangler