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The first thing everyone notices about this human (aside from my mobility device) is my slight Belfast accent. I sort of tuck it away for interviews, videos, and panels, but the sneaky thing keeps popping back out again! It was pretty funny when Canadian author Tanya Huff pointed that out to me in a panel we were on about absurdist humour in fiction, moderated by Amazing Stories editor and Canadian author Ira Nayman in 2017. But I was born a citizen of Ireland, so I do come by it honestly, even though my birth took place in Verdun, Québec.
The next thing you’d notice about me is that I am a cheerful but feisty soul with a wacky sense of humour. I love to laugh. I’m an extroverted tornado, yet the majority of my friends are introverts. I have been well-instructed on how to care for introverts, though, so let’s nobody panic!
Despite nearly everyone at cons thinking Kohenet Talia C. Johnson is my spouse, we’re just BFFs who act like an old married couple. In truth, I’ve been married for almost three decades to my long-suffering husband, emerging author Bruce Gordon. (I took his last name when I joined Clan Gordon.) In 2011, we renewed our vows with a Celtic-themed ceremony after being married 20 years. Bruce says we’re Super Married now. We are also only children without children of our own. Our small family means that our close friends are our chosen family. I enjoy having friends who are from all walks of life. I think growing up in Montreal influenced me to feel that diversity is the natural way of things.
As for writing, I love speculative fiction so hard. But the main genre I write for my novels—space opera—isn’t necessarily what I’ve read all my life. I simply adore classical romance. This is probably why I have an Austenian ballroom scene in the middle of a military space opera novel (yup, The Stealth Lovers). Also, I didn’t consciously choose Knightly as a surname for Xax because of Emma, but it’s a cute coincidence. Merging a little of the classical into the PEW, PEW, PEW really appeals to me. Along with adding desserts because CAAAKE INNN SPAAAAACE!
While I’ve a passion for crafting novels, I love penning short stories. The challenge of putting so much into a smaller word count really appeals to me. In The Hilltop Gathering (We Shall Be Monsters, Ed. Derek Newman-Stille), I had my first opportunity to create a disabled main character—Frank E. Stein. It really mattered to me that she was disabled from the beginning to the end of the tale. What was also special about this story was that it was discussed in a lecture at Carleton University during an international symposium about Frankenstein.
As much as I enjoy submitting short stories, 2019 was life-changing for me. I became the co-editor of an own-voice anthology whose authors and their protagonists identified as disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, Spoonie, and/or they manage mental illness. Nothing Without Us feels like (so far) the most important work in my career. The anthology is now a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist, but even cooler than that, the book was included as part of a syllabus at a Trent University disability studies course!
I consider myself a disability advocate for the arts and love partaking in and boosting the works of disabled creatives. I’m also editor-in-chief and founder of the Spoonie Authors Network. (We have a podcast, too, produced and directed by Canadian author Dianna Gunn!)
Not many people realize I’ve been a musician since I was 14, and have been singing since I was 2. My first bass guitar was an Ibanez Roadstar II that I named Ebenezer, or Ebby, for short. I went through an interesting phase in my 30s and ended up with five basses. Then I sold two at age 41 and started playing drums. I so dig being a drummer. I call it productive hitting.
Forever a Montreal girl at heart, I’ve spent over two decades living in the ’burbs of Ottawa. Yeesh. Suburgatory is right. I nickname my neighbourhood Narnia because I feel like the only way out of it is through a wardrobe. I might have seen a snow queen in the winter, too.
If you’d like to connect, you can find me on social media, being friendly, feisty, fun, and releasing the otters as a stress management coping tool.
Oh yeah, and I like cake. A lot.