Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Abilities of Disability – at Least in Fantasy

My piece on this month on the Great Travelling Guest Blog Fantasy Table:
In real life, disability is exactly what it says. A lack. A limitation. A loss of possibilities open to others, whether to see, to hear, to walk, to run, or just to go a week without the black dog of depression dropping on your back to take the taste out of everything.
Atop the inner physical limitations, come external ones: doors too narrow for a wheelchair, handles too high to reach, prompts or safety signals only visible, or only audible. A flight of “simple” stairs. Even an escalator can be another infuriating check to someone with a “disability.”
Add on the invisible limits: as with race, class, and colour, even with heterosexuality, disability can leave a person either Othered or literally invisible. Even when visible, the unlucky Other has to run the gauntlet, if not of naming for the problem – right up or down to names like Hopalong Cassidy – then of the other egregious reactions, from pity to repulsion: less happily than Hopalong, the person vanishes behind the stereotype.
 In fantasy, as with race, class and colour etc., things could, even ought to be different. After all, fantasy deploys magic, doesn't it? So you have a hero or heroine with real disability? Blind, deaf, wheelchair limited? Eazy peazy. A bit of angst, a few struggles, and along comes a spell or a wizard, or the character her/himself discovers his/her magic, and presto chango! All normal. Disability gone. Right?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Great Fantasy Travelling Table Guest Blog Again

This month the topic is disabilities in fantasy, and we are hosted over on Carole McDonnell's blog for some thoughtful and diverse thoughts on this topic. Enjoy! Think! Write, perhaps as well.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Novella Accepted

Excitement of the week, the month, the year so far.
Timmi Duchamp at Aqueduct Press has officially bought my novella, "Spring In Geneva."
It’s a 25K word riff on Frankenstein in which the fictional life-creation experiment in the novel turns out real, masterminded by Byron and Percy  Shelley, wanting to produce a superhuman (as in Percy Shelley's idea that poets legislate for the world.)
The story involves Mary Shelley in person, along with a rehabbed version of the Monster, a Swiss banker’s son, some steampunkish parts and a good deal of swash and buckle in the environs of Geneva.  Byron has a cameo as the master-villain, in which he very nearly ran away with the whole story.
I had enormous fun writing this, not least because I got to use such outrageous cliches as "nether garments" and lines like, "'I have ruined all!'" There was also the swash and buckle: ambushes and sword-fights,  Swiss bankers threatening Byron, and a hommage to Nikola Tesla as well as the author of Frankenstein itself.
The story will come out as a standalone novella in Aqueduct's Conversation Pieces line, in both print and e-versions, somewhere around August 2013. In the  meantime, I hope to do a couple more blogs here, and maybe share around a couple of preview pieces. Just as a start, here's two of the pix I used for thinking points in the writing process.
Mont Blanc, a thematic if slight presence in the story, from Mont Saleve, which had a bigger part, just outside Geneva.

 And Mary S herself, my favourite image of her, which I much prefer to the somewhat saccharine portrait with the books and black gear, painted around 1838. I haven't been able to find the provenance for this one, but it's clearly earlier, and it has a lot more steel showing than the later portrait.

This sketch more strongly suggests that she was a redoubtable lady, and I also had a lot of fun writing her like that.