The Aud novels are mine!

Audx3 copy
There are three novels about Aud Torvingen, “One of my favorite kick-ass, super-competent, coolheaded, hotblooded, semilegal girls.” — Salon.

Each was published by a different press: HarperCollins (The Blue Place), Doubleday (Stay), and Penguin (Always).

There were always meant to be five books in the series. I stopped at three because three different books from three different publishers is not a happy state of affairs. (Note to writers: Do. Not. Ever. Do. This.) Readers of one don’t always know the others exist. All the books look completely different, and have wildly divergent cover copy. (The images I use on this site are by a friend; they are not the original covers. The descriptions I’ve written are not the originals, either.)

One day when I’m full of energy and patience I’ll tell the whole story of how I came to publish three books about the same character with three different publishers. But today is not that day. Today is a day of triumph: I have spent the last four years fighting to get the rights back from Harper, Doubleday, and Penguin and on Friday the last piece feel into place. I NOW OWN RIGHTS TO THE WHOLE TRILOGY.

This means three things.

  1. The books are now unavailable in digital format and only available via second-hand markets in paper (except see below).
  2. One day, probably when I’ve finished Menewood, I’ll write Book 4 and republish the series from a single publishing house, complete with coherent covers and marketing strategy. (I’ll update them slightly—specifically the communication technology.) Then I’ll write Book 5. I also want to publish the books in the UK. (Does it piss me off that my novels aren’t published in my own country? Oh, yep. I’m going to fix that.)
  3. Next year, or perhaps the year after depending on other committments, I will narrate all three novels and make them available as audio books. I’ve longed to perform these books; they’re made for it. Now I’ll get my chance.

I’m very fond of Aud and her story; I love writing her. I can’t wait to write another.

Tucked away here and there I have boxes of all three books. Sometime in the next few days I’ll dig them out, and I’ll run a promotion with Phinney Books for the holidays and into New Year: Buy a signed copy of one of my in-print books and get a brand new, signed set of Aud books for, well, very little. We haven’t worked out how much yet but, seriously, they’ll be a bargain! Phinney Books will ship anywhere in the world. More on this very soon.

Meanwhile, THE AUD BOOKS ARE MINE, ALL MINE!!

8/6 #CripLit Twitter chat—writing workshop accessibility

#CripLit 1217 (3)

Image description: A bright yellow rectangle with an icon of a book on the right and a laptop screen on the left, flanking text: “#CripLit Twitter Chat, Writing Workshop Acessibility, December 17, 2017. 4pm Pacific/7pm Eastern. Guests: @ClarionWest @ClarionUCSD @LambdaLiterary.”


For our tenth #Criplit chat for disabled writers we’re trying a variation on the format we used for the Editor Roundtable. We’ve invited representatives from three summer writing workshops to come and chat for an hour about what they’re doing to make their writing programmes accessible.

This is a great opportunity for writers to learn about some of the venues that would welcome them, and to ask their own questions of specific programmes. I hope you’ll drop by and take part. Read on for more details.

#CripLit Twitter Chat: Writing Workshop Accessibility
Sunday, December 17, 2017, 4 pm Pacific/ 7 pm Eastern
Co-Hosts: Nicola Griffith @Nicolaz and Alice Wong @DisVisibility

Guests: Representatives from Clarion West Writers Workshop, Lambda Literary’s Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices, and Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop.

Co-partners of #CripLit, novelist Nicola Griffith and Disability Visibility Project’s Alice Wong, are proud to host the tenth #CripLit Twitter chat for disabled writers.

This is the writing workshop roundtable in which we talk to the staff and representatives of some of the leading summer workshops for emerging writers. The format will be slightly different from previous chats. It is designed to get basic information from each of our guests that we think would be useful to writers considering whether to apply to one of the workshops, and to allow writers to then ask their own follow-up questions.

We will divide the hour into six segments. We have prepared a question for the workshop representatives to lead off each segment, which should provide some time for writers to ask their own follow-up questions. Reps will answer as many as they can. Reps may also have questions for writers. And writers may have questions or suggestions for each other.

All disabled writers are welcome to participate in the chat including (but not limited to) reporters, storytellers, essayists, poets, cartoonists, bloggers, freelancers, unpublished or published. We want to hear from all of you! Check the #CripLit hashtag on Twitter for announcements of future chats that will focus on different genres or topics.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

Follow @nicolaz and @DisVisibility on Twitter.

Follow guest hosts: @ClarionWest@ClarionUCSD@LambdaLiterary

Use the hashtag #CripLit when you tweet. The questions will be timed several minutes apart.

Note: this week’s questions are aimed initially at the staff and representatives of writing workshops.

Check out this explanation of how to participate in a chat by Ruti Regan: https://storify.com/RutiRegan/examplechat

If you don’t use Twitter and want to follow along in real-time, check out the live-stream:http://twubs.com/CripLit

#CRIPLIT TWEETS FOR 12/17 CHAT

Welcome to our 10th #CripLit chat. This is the writing workshop roundtable featuring staff & representatives of leading summer workshops for emerging writers.

The format for this #CripLit chat: Our chat’s questions are for the staff & after they respond you all can ask them follow-up Qs

We want to give you all the chance to talk with workshop staff directly with our questions as a way to start the convo #CripLit

If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet should follow this format: “A1 [your message] #CripLit”

Q1 Please introduce yourself and your workshop—mission, size, etc—& include links to Submission Guidelines & other useful info. #CripLit

Q2 Tell us about your workshop venue. How would you describe its accessibility? #CripLit

Q3 What help do you offer disabled writers a) with the application process? b) during the workshop? #CripLit

Q4 Do you have experience of working with disabled writers? Are any of your faculty disabled? #CripLit

Q5 In what way/s do you consult with disabled writers about our needs? How do you integrate/implement suggestions? #CripLit

Q6 What advice do you have for writers, disabled and nondisabled? Any actions or strategies you can suggest? #CripLit

This concludes our 10th #CripLit chat! Please keep the convo going.

Be sure to tweet co-hosts @nicolaz@DisVisibility questions, comments, and ideas for the next #CripLit chat

ADDITIONAL LINKS

Deciding whether to attend Clarion West, for disabled writers, Elizabeth Bartmess
On being an ill writer, Alicia Elliott
An Open Letter to All Writing Programmes, Nicola Griffith
Lambda Literary Writers Retreat For Emerging LGBTQ Voices
Clarion West Writers Workshop
Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop

ABOUT

Nicola Griffith is a British novelist, now dual US/UK citizen. She was diagnosed with MS the same month her first novel Ammonite was published. Her other novels are SlowRiver, The Blue Place, Stay, Always, Hild, and the forthcoming So Lucky. She has a PhD and is married to writer Kelley Eskridge. They live in Seattle where Nicola emerges occasionally from work on her seventh novel to drink just the right amount of beer and take enormous delight in everything.
Twitter: @nicolaz
Website: https://nicolagriffith.com/blog/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicolagriffith

Alice Wong is a San Francisco-based disability advocate, freelance journalist, television watcher, cat lover, and coffee drinker. Alice is the Founder and Project Coordinator for theDisability Visibility Project (DVP), a community partnership with StoryCorps and an online community dedicated to recording, amplifying, and sharing disability stories and culture. Currently she is a co-partner with Andrew Pulrang and Gregg Beratan for #CripTheVote, a non-partisan online campaign encouraging the political participation of people with disabilities.
Twitter: @SFdirewolf
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/356870067786565/
Website: http://DisabilityVisibilityProject.com

Flying internationally with a wheelchair

Image description: Sepia-toned black and white photo of unoccupied black, lightweight manual wheelchair with power-assist wheels, tubular armrests, and a calf strap parked on a hardwood floor in front of an art deco-style glass pocket door.

In October’s Travelling with a wheelchair I detailed my first two out of town trips, by ferry and by plane, with my own wheelchair, an ultralight rigid frame TiLite Aero Z with E-motion M15 power-assist run by lithium-ion batteries. (If you’re interested in detailed specifics of the chair, including its benefits and challenges, you should read that post first.)

Those first two West coast journeys went unexpectedly well. But I wasn’t sanguine about transatlantic air travel (Seattle to Heathrow on British Airways; eight days in Leeds; four days in Cambridge; BA back to Seattle). In fact I was so dubious about it that we took out a massive chunk of insurance for the chair (which, obscenely, is worth more than our car—being a cripple is not cheap).

Heathrow is a giant nightmare for those who rely on mobility assistance: the porters/assistants (in my UK experience always men) tend to get things wrong. Spectacularly wrong. Often. I’ve missed a transatlantic flight after being abandoned in a transfer station in the bowels of the airport and forgotten. (My phone had no signal. I couldn’t walk anywhere. The airport chair was not self-pushable.) I’ve almost missed my flight countless times, including the last time we were in the UK when I had to physically intimidate the driver of what I call a beep-beep buggy, make him stop, and limp with superhuman speed on my crutches to the jetway where they were about to close the flight.

So I was not sure whether this trip, in which I was in charge of my own mobility destiny in my own chair, would go brilliantly or terribly.

In preparation we not only took out expensive insurance (with $1,000 deductible), I bought a special bag, a TiLite backpack that attaches to the back of chair, that’s detachable for use as a carry-on. The bag that attaches to the right front strut for everyday use was too small (and also time-consuming and fiddly to take off for the flight). I also emailed the hotel in Cambridge where we would be staying and sought personal reassurance that it would be wholly accessible. (I didn’t need to do that with the hotel in Leeds. We’ve stayed there so many times that I can now negotiate a very favourable rate for a very good room.They know us by sight.) They told me that their front entrance was currently being renovated but they had a fixed ramp on a side entrance so it would be no problem. I booked us a car service: nine-seater van to ferry us from Heathrow to Leeds, Leeds to Cambridge, and Cambridge to Heathrow. Yes, this was wickedly expensive but it was the only solution for someone with a non-folding wheelchair and luggage. I negotiated a cash price which brought the cost down a bit.

The travel did not begin well. First of all, we couldn’t get an accessible Super Shuttle to pick us up from our neighbourhood. Fortunately our neighbour and friend was free that afternoon so she drove us in our own car to Sea-Tac and dropped us right outside British Airways. We assembled the chair and zipped into the terminal.

Earlier in the month we’d read the BA website guidelines and had called BA and talked to a real live human being, so we were confident in the procedures (more time…). Sadly, the staff at BA check-in were not. They could not seem to grasp the notion of lithium-ion batteries. They had to call a series of people to confirm procedure. Once they had done that, though, and festooned the chair with a variety of tags—including the giant, all-important bright-orange BRING TO PLANE! label (more on that below)—the next part was fabulously easy: I moved through currency exchange, security, ground transit, and to the BA lounge entirely under my own steam. The only hard part were the bathroom doors in the lounge: enormous, weighty slabs designed for Goliath, not crips in wheelchairs (or old people, or people with children, or small people, or, well, anyone except Goliath).

Before I go any further, let me submit one elephant-sized caveat: we were flying First Class and staying in swank hotels (largely on points). We were treated with great courtesy and consideration at every stage. I’d like to think that those flying Economy and staying in budget accommodation would get the same level of care but, human nature and economics being what they are, I’m not entirely convinced. So please bear this in mind as you read on.

Eventually we were on the plane. Uneventful 9-hour flight. Land at Heathrow…aaaand no wheelchair. We wait on the plane, still no wheelchair. We wait some more. They need to turn the plane around for the flight back. They find an airport chair and stick me in it and trundle me to the top of the jetway. A BA rep is frantically phoning departments all over the airport. Nothing. No one know where the chair is. Time is ticking by. I phone the car service that’s supposed to be picking us up for the drive north. “Oh, don’t worry about the delay,” they said. But I was worrying. Yes, the chair was insured, but getting the money back in a month was not going to help right there and then. If my chair was on the way to Bali (or even Birmingham) I was fucked.

Eventually (and by this time we were frozen; I hadn’t slept in 24 hours and we were sitting on crappy plastic chairs in the unheated part at the top of the jetway) the BA rep said he thought the chair was at baggage claim. (Thought?) He was trying to get a beep-beep buggy to trundle us through immigration. (Trying?? I was not overwhelmed with confidence.) Eventually the buggy came and off we trundled. It was the usual nightmare of a person blithely setting off in the wrong direction and being unwilling to a) listen and b) ask for help. Some unknown and miserable time later, we finally arrived at baggage claim. It was deserted. Apart from my chair (worth more than our car, remember?) sitting abandoned in the middle of the echoing hall where anyone could just roll it away unchallenged.

In a daze of fatigue, jetlag and irritation I got in it and set about reinstalling the batteries etc while Kelley hunted down the luggage. Then we found our way through customs and ground transit and, eventually (an hour late? two hours? I was so tired I didn’t know or care) to our driver. He had a lovely, comfy Mercedes van. We settled in a zoned out for the four-hour drive to Leeds.

We had a perfectly lovely week in Leeds. Getting wheelchair taxis turned out to be much more difficult during the day than I’d expected (lots of crips, few taxis) but after dark very, very easy (apparently most crips don’t venture out after the sun goes down).

Then we had a smooth and easy drive down to Cambridge to our lovely hotel. Where we found that their notion of an accessible ramp was something with a two-inch lip that my chair couldn’t climb. I just stared at it blankly. The driver, without even asking, just heaved the chair over the lip. I was pissed off—but also glad that at least I would now be able to sleep somewhere that night.

In the interests of time and space, let me just say that the hotel’s manager was very responsive. By the time I’d had breakfast the next morning there was a temporary wooden ramplet installed at the end of the ramp; I would be able to come and go safely and at will. (Also, the food at this place was delicious, especially the soup—I had three different soups in three days, and I loved every single one of them. If I lived in Cambridge I’d be there for lunch at least once a week.)

I’d chosen the hotel deliberately so it was equidistant from both the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University, where I was doing classes and seminars. Both looked to be trundleable distance—half a mile at most. First up was ARU. It was cold, and it was late on a winter afternoon: dark, pouring with rain, roads and pavements jammed with cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. The cars were a pain: it turns out that wheelchair height is exactly where you breathe the most exhaust. Ack. But the bikes were worse. Most cyclists were not using lights; they did not look for obstacles at wheelchair height. I had a couple of close calls. (Note to self: Buy a light for the wheelchair, something noticeable.) But still, it was wonderful to be out and about under my own steam. I wish we lived somewhere I could do that: with sidewalks/pavements, relatively level terrain, and accessible destinations.

I was at ARU for about four hours, doing various things. Afterwards, Kelley and I and a couple of faculty went off to a Turkish restaurant to get dinner. Level entry, yes. Accessible absolutely! the owners told my host. Except, gosh, it turns out that ‘level-entry’ meant a three-inch stone step. Again, I just stared at it blankly. Then—before anyone could even think about bodily heaving me up the step—I said: That’s not accessible, and wheeled away. We all just went back to the hotel and ate the posh version of bangers and mash and had a lovely conversation over wine.

The next day was all friend stuff, not professional, and we hit no problems.

Getting to Cambridge University was an adventure: right through the centre of town at the busiest time of day when the streets were jammed with people walking, biking, driving at speed. And this time some of the pavements were very narrow and very sloped. Wheelchairs are a lot of work on a tilted surface because one arm is doing a lot more work than the other, and it’s harder to dodge idiot non-alert pedestrians and idiot non-aware cyclists. Also, there was one place with no cuts (outside the Hilton Hotel: Bad Hilton!). But we managed. And again, the event went well.

We got back to the hotel, made half-hearted packing motions, then thought, Fuck it! and went to the bar. And stayed a while. And then ate dinner. Eh, we can always get up early… I spent much of the evening smiling, happy that for four whole days I hadn’t needed any kind of car or taxi, I’d been able to get everywhere I needed to go on my own two wheels.

Here’s where it gets interesting: the trip back, from the drive to the airport to the flight to the retrieval of wheelchair at the other end to go going through immigration and customs was the smoothest, easiest fucking trip I’ve had in decades. If all travel went so well I’d do it a lot more.

What made the difference was that somehow, between the middle and end of November BA changed all their policies. For the flight my wheelchair now went into something they called The Tank (no idea if that’s official terminology or just some local load-control term) which meant we didn’t have to take the batteries out. So I just wheeled to the plane, got on the plane, and loaders wheeled the chair away and put it in the hold. When we arrived at Sea-Tac we had to wait five minutes and, bang, there it was on the jetway. It felt like a miracle.

But, again, we spent a lot of money on this trip. And I was travelling with Kelley. I dread to think how it would be do the journey on my own, or, worse, on my own on a restrictive budget. We’ve pretty much exhausted our British Airways points now, so next time I think we will be on a budget. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

The Fries Test for disabled characters in fiction

ETA: I’ve been getting suggestions here and on Twitter so I’m building a list of #criplit titles that may pass the Fries Test. Please make additional suggestions here or there. I haven’t read them all, so if you see a book on the list you don’t think belongs there, please leave a comment explaining why.


Most readers will be familiar with the Bechdel Test. Today I want to talk about the Fries Test for fiction:

Does a work have more than one disabled character? Do the disabled characters have their own narrative purpose other than the education and profit of a nondisabled character? Is the character’s disability not eradicated either by curing or killing?

This is a very low bar, yet there are surprisingly few fictional works written for adults that manage it.1

When we talk specifically about trade-published novels with a disabled main character2, the numbers become vanishingly small. Offhand, I can think of only five:

There are more novels in which the main character is disabled and isn’t cured or killed, such as the Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold, but those characters are alone in their disability.6 Novels in which crips talk to each other? Novels in which we talk to each other about something other than wanting to be cured, or how to get cured, or why we want to die because we can’t be cured? Novels in which we don’t die? I’m drawing a blank.

Think about that. I read a lot. I can only think of four novels for adults with two or more crip characters who talk to each other and who are not killed or cured. It’s true that until recently I might not have noticed whether or not characters were disabled but, still, five.7 FIVE.

Surely I’m missing some. Please tell me I’m missing some…


1 As opposed to YA/kidlit, a genre in which, as we know from data about literary  prizes, the barriers to depictions of the perceived Other appear to be somewhat different. (If you want some great recommendations, visit Disability in Kidlit.) And I’m focusing on the category of fiction, so excluding memoir, such as Mean Little Deaf Queer and essays such as Waist High to the World or Exile and Pride. (Note: I’m linking to some of these books on Amazon because crip writers have enough barriers to entry without increasing readers’ difficulty level to buy their books.)
2 I’m guessing there may be some self-published criplit novels out there but I don’t know them. If you do, please add them in the comments.
3 By Lizard Jones, who was part of the Kiss and Tell collective who produced both the wonderful Drawing the Line exhibit, which I saw long ago in Atlanta, and Her Tongue on My Theory. Lizard, if you’re reading this, I’d love to talk to you…
4 An ensemble novel, but I’d argue that Tyrion is a main character, and Bran, much later in the Song of Ice and Fire sequence, will become so.
5 So Lucky passes the Enhanced Fries Test: Many more than two disabled characters, most with names (gasp, what a concept!). Who talk about something other than disability. Who don’t die (or get cured, or sacrifice themselves for a nondisabled person—who are not a fucking narrative prosthesis).
6 I’ve only read one, and it was a very long time ago, so it may well be that Miles isn’t the only crip in the books. I’d love to be corrected about this.
7 And one of those, Borderline, was just pointed out to me by a commenter on Twitter this morning.

New novel, So Lucky, out 15 May 2018

My new novel, So Lucky, will be published on May 15, 2018, by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

So Lucky is still so new I don’t yet know how to talk about it. Is it a thriller? Well, some people get murdered and Mara, the narrator, works to stop the killers. Is it a monster novel? Absolutely—in more ways than one with monsters human and otherwise. Is it disability fiction? Oh, yes indeedy. Political? Indisputably, particularly in the arena of healthcare. Savage? Ferocity isn’t the half of it. But So Lucky is also brimming with love of life, and hope, and joy (and sex, and self-defence)—and an indomitable will to win.

The catalogue copy is still undergoing refinement, but as of today this is where we are:

From the author of Hild, a fierce and urgent autobiographical novel about a woman facing down a formidable foe

So Lucky is the sharp, surprising new novel by Nicola Griffith—the profoundly personal and emphatically political story of a confident woman forced to confront an unnerving new reality when, in the space of a single week, her wife leaves her and she is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Mara Tagarelli is, professionally, the head of a multi-million-dollar AIDS foundation; personally, a committed martial artist. But her life has been turned inside out like a sock. She can’t rely on family, her body is letting her down, and friends and colleagues are turning away—they treat her like a victim. She needs to break that narrative: build her own community, learn new strengths, and fight. But what do you do when you find out that the story you’ve been told, the story you’ve told yourself, is not true? How can you fight if you can’t trust your body? Who can you rely on if those around you don’t have your best interests at heart, and the systems designed to help do more harm than good? Mara makes a decision, and acts, but her actions unleash monsters aimed squarely at the heart of her new community.

This is fiction from the front lines, incandescent and urgent, a narrative juggernaut that rips through sentiment to expose the savagery of America’s treatment of the disabled and chronically ill. But So Lucky also blazes with hope and a ferocious love of self, of the life that becomes possible when we stop believing lies.


Nicola Griffith is the multiple award-winning author of six novels and a memoir. A native of Yorkshire, England—now a dual U.S./U.K. citizen—she is a onetime self-defense instructor with a PhD who turned to writing full-time upon being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She lives with her wife, the writer Kelley Eskridge, in Seattle.

“Griffith is a writer of considerable gifts. Her sentences shimmer, her powers of observation and description are razor sharp.” —King Kaufman, The New York Times

“I found . . . gratitude twisting into every moment of admiration for Griffith’s craft: gratitude for agency, complexity, nuance, representation, mixed up with awe at her pacing, prose style and characterization.” —Amal El-Mohtar, NPR

“Dazzling . . . Griffith’s lyrical prose emphasizes the savagery of the political landscape.” —Rachel Abramowitz, The Paris Review

As you can see from the copy, So Lucky has autobiographical elements. Like me, Mara the narrator is diagnosed with MS. Like me, she studies martial arts, lives (as I once did) in Atlanta, and is originally from the UK. Like me, she is married to a woman—except her wife is divorcing her. As it was for me, it is a shock for Mara to encounter for the first time the marrow-shrivelling dismissal disabled people face every day. But let me be clear: I mine my life for So Lucky but this is not the story of my life. Mara is not me; her responses are not mine. Mara’s story is no more mine than Lore’s in Slow River, Aud’s in Always, or Hild’s in, well, anything.

Read that last paragraph of the catalogue copy again:

This is fiction from the front lines, incandescent and urgent, a narrative juggernaut that rips through sentiment to expose the savagery of America’s treatment of the disabled and chronically ill. But So Lucky also blazes with hope and a ferocious love of self, of the life that becomes possible when we stop believing lies.

When we stop believing lies… That is what lies at the heart of this book: the lies we absorb that distort how we feel about ourselves, and how we get past them to something new. I’m talking, of course, about internalised ableism.

I was lucky. Growing up I somehow avoided internalised homophobia and internalised misogyny, or perhaps I learnt to automatically counter-programme them. I knew as soon as I knew my own name that I was a girl who liked other girls. I didn’t see anything wrong with that: I was utterly fabulous, and I was queer, so being queer must be fabulous, too. But I did not grow up disabled. I did not develop an awareness of this culture’s bias against physical and intellectual difference; I did not learn to defend against it or counter-programme it. As I said in an interview recently:

Perhaps because my physical impairments gained on me slowly it took years to feel the sting of nondisabled people’s dismissal… It took years for me to begin to understand that I had been dismissing myself. But more likely it’s because growing up I hadn’t seen disabled queer women in real life, or on page or screen—at all. And when finally I began to see disabled characters they were distorted clichés: tragic cripples, angry cripples, helpless cripples. Cripples whose bodies, like those of queer people, were portrayed as sites of difficulty rather than delight. Cripples written by the nondisabled who have no fucking clue.

We all need to see ourselves. We need mirrors. We need to hear our own voices. Our strong, beautiful, ordinary, disabled, queer voices. We need to see and hear ourselves.

That’s what this book is about: getting past the bullshit fed to us by society and then figuring out how to break that narrative, how to free ourselves and others. But just as So Lucky isn’t autobiographical fiction, it’s not angsty or interior fiction. In this book shit happens. Mara does things, she doesn’t just react. She has agency, will, and purpose. In So Lucky Mara (not necessarily in this order):

  • divorces her wife
  • falls in love with another woman
  • get diagnosed with MS
  • buys a gun
  • has her first experience of being in a wheelchair at the airport
  • is pursued by a monster
  • forms a nonprofit
  • gets stuck in the middle of a lake in a kayak
  • does something sorta sketchy and risks lives
  • thinks she knows everything
  • figures out how fucked-up the nonprofit culture is
  • smokes her first hash
  • behaves badly
  • gets involved in hunting down a crew of murderers
  • figures out she doesn’t know everything
  • fights a monster.

Right now the book is listed at 192 pages, but given that I’ve only just turned in my first-pass copyedits, and the typesetting isn’t even begun, that’s just a guesstimate. Also, you’ll see we don’t yet have a cover. When asked for input by the art department the only suggestion I had to offer was to please find a way to depict conflicting emotions, rage and joy, and demonstrate the angry irony of the title. I have zero expectation that they’ll take heed. After all, my single instruction for the cover of Hild was, Just don’t put Hild on the cover! And we all know how well that turned out...

Similarly, I don’t yet know what kind of marketing is lined up, or what sort of publicity I’ll be doing. When I know, you’ll know.

So Lucky is particularly personal. I can’t wait for you to read it.

Disability visibility in the queer community

coming out disabled bigger

Image description: Screenshot from header of magazine article. The headline and byline, “‘Coming Out Disabled: Embracing our full spectrum’ by Victoria A. Brownworth,” are followed by a photo, taken outside in summer, of a short-haired white woman in a pale linen shirt sitting in front of another white woman with slightly longer hair, wearing in a sky blue tank top, who has her hands on the first woman’s shoulders; she is wearing a wedding ring (they are married).


In the Oct/Nov issue of Curve, Victoria Brownworth writes a three-page feature on disabled queer visibility. I’m one of three women—the others are Alice Wong and Ace Ratcliffe—interviewed.

It’s a good article; you should read it (either in the print edition or the $2.99 digital download). But one thing I want to correct immediately: I did not coin the phrase radical hospitality. I first heard it from Leigh Ann Hildebrand in 2013, and talked about it extensively here. I talk about it a bit more in the article. It’s a beautiful concept and in my opinion if everyone adopted it the world would be a better place.

I also also talk about my own internalised ableism and how and why it took me so long to first recognise it, and then begin to get past it:

While Ratcliffe was forced to accept and address her disability early, for Griffith the struggle took longer, but was no less harsh. “Perhaps because my physical impairments gained on me slowly, it took years to feel the sting of nondisabled people’s dismissal,” she says as she echoes Ratcliffe’s words. “It took years for me to begin to understand that I had been dismissing myself. But more likely it’s because growing up I hadn’t seen disabled queer women in real life, or on page or screen. At all. And then when finally I began to see disabled characters, they were distorted clichés: tragic cripples, angry cripples, helpless cripples. Cripples whose bodies, like those of queer people, were portrayed as sites of difficulty rather than delight. Cripples written by the nondisabled who have no fucking clue.”

The article ends:

Griffith’s call to action seems so simple, yet those of us who read coming out stories as teenagers know the path to inclusion is incredibly fraught. “We all need to see ourselves,” she says. “We need mirrors. We need to hear our own voices. Our strong, beautiful, ordinary, disabled, queer voices. We need to see and hear ourselves.

“Let’s find each other. Let’s welcome each other. Let’s practise radical hospitality. Next time you put together and article, or a party, or an event, reach out. Don’t say, ‘If you need anything, just ask.’ Do the work of imagining what we might need, and then make it happen. Don’t put the work on us. You can’t anticipate everything, but you can begin. And when we speak—on Twitter, in person, in a book—listen.”

Kelley’s film OtherLife now streaming on Netflix

No matter where on earth you live, if you have access to Netflix you can now watch OtherLife, the film Kelley wrote, based on her novel Solitaire. The film is not only smart and emotionally true, it has a fascinating science fictional premise: if you can live a whole other life in the blink of an eye, and that other life feels indistinguishable from reality, how will you resist its allure? It’s lusciously filmed, with rich sound, gorgeous cityscapes and stunning outdoors sequences—rock climbing, snowboarding, skydiving, scuba diving. There’s also a harrowing sequence involving virtual solitary confinement—because anything people can invent they can abuse.

Essentially, though, OtherLife is beautiful: the human heart will win, real life will find a way. Go watch it. And then chortle, as I did, to see Kelley’s name not once but twice in the end credits. This film would not exist if not for Kelley and her amazing writing: first the novel, then the screenplay. Yes, it takes a village to make a movie—it’s far more of a team effort than a novel—the origins lie with Kelley. Kelley’s heart, Kelley’s mind, Kelley’s hard work.

I am very proud.

TV screenshots by Guillermo Castro

Image description: Side-by-side photos of film/screen credits in white typeface on mostly-blue backgrounds. On the left,  “Based on the novel SOLITAIRE by Kelley Eskridge; story by Gregory Widen.” On the right, “screenplay by Gregory Widen and Kelley Eskridge & Ben Lucas.”

But don’t take my word for it. Go read Kelley’s post: 10 reasons to watch OtherLife.