If you’ve been following my Twitter posts for the past several weeks, you know how much I had been looking forward to launching The Stealth Lovers and Nothing Without Us at Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto. I’d heard amazing things about this bookstore for years from my author friends and was honoured Glad Day would include TSL and NWU among their many fine titles!
Another thing you probably know is that I manage a disability with unpredictable symptoms. I try my best to put things in place to curb flare-ups and fatigue spells. In fact, I had slowed everything down in my life just for the planned overnight trip to Toronto on November 30. I even got in a physiotherapy session over a week before, to loosen some of my musculoskeletal stiffness. I was making sure to nap every day, too. Basically, I did everything in my power to gather up all my spoons.
Then on the Monday of that week, I picked up an empty laundry basket and turned to the left. Like I’d done a million times in my life. But not all of me turned at the same time, obviously, because my back went out. Badly. Of course I was alone at home and found myself unable to walk. That was super fun.
Anyway, it became clear over the next 48-hour period, as my spine and legs flared in response to that injury, I wasn’t going to be able to recover quickly enough for Saturday. Sitting is difficult for me on my best days, let alone having to take a train for almost five hours one way. I was crestfallen to announce to my publisher and co-editor that I wouldn’t be able to make it.
Boy, did I feel low. I’d tried everything to be fine, and a freak movement had done me in.
But never fear! There is a hero in this story! Nathan from Renaissance asked Michael Lyons from Glad Day if it would be possible if we could use technology to have me read remotely. As I awaited the reply, I asked Talia if she would do my reading of The Stealth Lovers for me.
Michael came through and then some! Not only could we use Skype to video conference me in, they would project me onto a large screen and use speakers so the audience could see and hear me. Michael was also so helpful during the setup because I felt I was in an isolation booth at home. But his thumbs up and cheerful presence put me right at ease!
Isn’t that considerably awesome? You know, I spend so much of my daily energy exhausted from inaccessibility or ableism that either I experience or that I witness others go through. For once I have a feel-good story where the allies actually deserve that term. There was no fuss, only support. I never felt like a burden but a welcome guest. And I know Michael and Glad Day wouldn’t toot their own horns about helping me, so I’m doing it. TOOT, TOOT, TOOT!
These are good people.
I wish more bookshops would consider this for disabled authors. Some disabled people can travel around more easily than others. It really depends on the disability and how one experiences it. Sure, it’s great being there in person, but it’s not always feasible. I much prefer reading to an audience while I’m with them, yet this was a great option in case my body couldn’t body properly.
I think cons should consider this as well, for special guests who want to participate, but physically cannot be there. Perhaps combining launches or panels where there are people present and some remotely can be the ticket.
Anyway, I am smitten with Glad Day now, and am not only happy their bookshop is accessible, but also their staff care about offering support so everyone can feel important and included.
Good on you, Glad Day Bookshop. You rock!
If you’re in Toronto, visit them at 499 Church Street. You can also follow them on Twitter @GDBooks. Nothing Without Us, The Stealth Lovers, and Run J Run (by Su Sokol) should be on their shelves!
Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world. Narf.