Canadian Writers: Cait Gordon—Interview by Kirsten McNeill

dalek

If you can’t be yourself, be a fashionista dalek.

 

I was interviewed by the lovely author Kirsten McNeill for her series on Canadian Writers.

You can read it on her website, The Art is Ours.

Thanks, Kirsten. I had fun!

/cg


cgauthorCait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a comedic space opera where boy meets girl, but girl doesn’t notice boy because she’s sharing a body with another boy. She is also the creator and editor of the Spoonie Authors Network. You can follow Cait on Facebook  and Twitter.

I’m cishet and I write queer characters, but not without help.

rainbow bookYeah, so I’m cisgender, which means that a doctor looked at my new-born bits and said, “It’s a girl,” and when I grew up I said, “Good guess, Doc.” I’m also heterosexual, which means I am romantically and sexually attracted to men. Right, so we got those boring details about me out of the way.

What isn’t tedious is that I have a truly amazing circle of friends. *my binary-straight self waves to all my peeps who reside all over the sexual orientation and gender spectrums* For this I am blessed because my perspective of the world is quite vast, and being a lover of diversity, it’s a wee bit o’ heaven for me. I like learning about people and listening to their points of view. It’s fascinating to hear what we have in common and what makes us unique. Unfortunately, it also can be heartbreaking when I witness the prejudice, fear, and hurt my friends go through. That makes me very Hulk-smashy and has led me to my go-to expression: Cishet people suck.

Now, before you go all #NotAllCishetPeople, maybe take a breath and think for a second. Really think. Maybe one’s degree of suckage has not been extreme, but I bet we can find a time in our lives when we’ve said, “That’s so gay,” even if we were talking about a thing and not a person. And we can’t even justify that as “gay meaning lame,” because then we’re insulting people like me who have mobility issues. I often say, “That’s not lame—I am!” We also have used gender as an insult, as in, “You run like a girl,” and decide to misgender people based on their interests, like,  “You like football? You’re one of the guys!” (Yeah, no, I’m not a guy. I just like football.) Worse yet, we justify our solidarity by our genitals, saying, “This group is for everyone with a vagina,” meaning, cisgender women only.

Even when we’re trying to be inclusive of people on other parts of the sexual orientation and gender spectrum, we can muck it up. While it’s okay to politely take someone aside and ask them what pronoun they use, it’s not okay to ask them about genital surgery or any other wholly private and non-of-your-are-you-kidding-me business. That’s super ungood. Bombarding someone with questions doesn’t work. People who identify as queer or with the LGBTQIA2 acronym are not here for the sole purpose of educating us. Sometimes they just want to hang, see a movie, and eat cupcakes with us. You know, just “doing life stuff” as our friends.

I am lucky that my best friend is an educator, though, I won’t lie. She teaches me how not to be so sucky. But still, that’s not what we talk about 24/7. We mostly discuss our lives and act silly. Like BFFs do.

In my circle of friends, I am teased (by my BFF) that I am the token cishet. It’s kinda true! As immersed as I am in my peep’s lives, I still know that there is so much I don’t know about what it’s like to be them on a daily basis. When I hear about how holding a partner’s hand in public can be dangerous, I’m gobsmacked. How does that feel on the inside? Or how other friends cannot walk about peaceably downtown without getting verbally assaulted or having the threat of physical/sexual assault as an immediate possibility. . . all because of their gender. As a cis woman, I know what that feels like for me, so I just multiply that by ten billion and then I imagine that’s what being transgender or non-binary is like. It hurts that this is a reality. Nobody should live in fear like that.

Because there are nuances I probably won’t get no matter how much I try to understand, as a writer I cannot publish even a short story without having it vetted. The beta readers for Life in the ’Cosm were a diverse group of people. Even though I wrote about aliens and not life on Earth, I still wanted to avoid writing something where readers could scream, “BURN IT TO THE GROUND!” Yes, my characters are not perfect, personality-wise, because I have yet to meet a being who is in real life, but as far as queer or gender representation, I knew I needed help. Mind you, I was so panicky about being a douchecanoe, my BFF said over and over, “It’s fine. It’s sci-fi. Just have fun with it!”

Oh yeah, being the anxious cishet person who doesn’t want to insult people can also be oppressive. If you accidentally misgender someone, for example, don’t put on a Shakespearean tragedy-like display about how horrible a person you are. Just use the correct pronoun, maybe pop in a “sorry”, and then slow down your brain to make sure you don’t do that again. Making a scene just creates a really awkward situation. *cough*

Back to writing stuff. I have been told that’s it’s okay for cishet authors to include queer and gender-fabulous characters in their stories. In fact, it’s encouraged! The big thing is just to make the characters part of the story, and maybe just don’t include only one queer person who dies . . . like, in every single story you write. That’s not so great. Having your work read by real-life people who you are trying to represent will improve the quality of your characters. I say this especially about transgender characters, because there is glaring misrepresentation of trans people on TV and in stories. If your work has trans characters in it, then I do recommend hiring my BFF as a sensitivity editor. She’ll read your manuscript and tell you what tropes to avoid and how to write queer and trans characters more realistically. Here’s a link to her website.

So, yeah, I don’t want to be a cishet person who sucks. I think there are others like me, too. Many folks my age just didn’t grow up with enough exposure, so we’re sorta ignorant. However, there is a cure for ignorance. Just learn a thing! Then learn another thing! Keep going like that, and you’ll be a better, more understanding person. Even still, don’t fly that ship alone. When you write something, get yourself a sensitivity editor or at least sensitivity beta readers. Writing takes a lot of time and effort, and if you cover all bases with having your manuscript vetted, the more people will enjoy your stories.

I will continue to include diversity in my stories because if it exists on Earth, it would be silly not to include it in other galaxies. Just like cake. It would be silly not to include cake in other galaxies. All sorts of people and all sorts of cake make a galaxy a cool place to live.

What?

/cg


cgauthorCait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a comedic space opera where boy meets girl, but girl doesn’t notice boy because she’s sharing a body with another boy. She is also the creator and editor of the Spoonie Authors Network. You can read more about Cait on her Website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tremontaine: binge-worthy and full of chocolate!

Book cover

Book cover

Truth be told, I thought perhaps there was something wrong with author Caroline Fréchette. They kept enthusiastically going on and on and on about some book called Tremontaine, insisting that we all read it.

Finally, not wanted to incur Caro’s eyebrows of wrath, I bought the eBook version.

And now, after reading it, I can say with all sincerity, HOLY CRAP, THIS BOOK IS FREAKING AMAZING! In fact, it’s not really a book but a written series with each chapter as an episode. I began reading Season One, which consisted of thirteen episodes, and totally binged. There are several authors in this series, too, but magically, all the episodes read as if they were done by one person.

The story follows the machinations of Diane, Duchess of Tremontaine, a beautiful, sly creature who is the current mastermind behind her husband’s fortunes. At least, she wants to be. But a secret deal gone awry—and a sunken ship carrying chocolate—might bankrupt the Tremontaine estate and lead them to social ruin. Oh yeah, and the duke has no knowledge of this. Diane must try to escape this potential disaster on her own.

Then we have the exotic soldier-warrior Ixkaab, or Kaab, exiled from her own country and a “princess” of the first family of chocolate traders. She’s come to redeem herself in this new strange land where people have skin the colour of ant eggs. Kaab is fearlessly skilled as a fighter with a dagger, yet, a ginger woman from the wrong side of the city is her greatest weakness. When a murder occurs in Riverside, and the victim is the protector of this ginger vision, Kaab goes on a quest to find the killer.

But we mustn’t forget little Micah, who is a girl dressed as a boy—which only tends to fool men and not women. Micah is a mathematical and physics wizard who finds herself living among the male scholars of the University, including Rafe, a reluctant son of a merchant, who sees “him” as the ticket to forging a new scientific truth and creating a new way to improve the chocolate trade.

It took me a while to get used to the place names and become accustom to the world that seemed so much like our own during the 17th century. However, I stuck with the story and it turned out to be so delicious, I drank it down it like spicy hot chocolate. (Funny how I always like romantic adventure stories that run along a plumb line of food. Huh.)

I loved the way Micah was represented. She reminded me of someone on the autism spectrum, and I felt her character was written so well. Micah can get overstimulated by her hypersensitivity to stimuli and she can be hyperfocused on a task, but the people around her don’t judge her. She has her coping techniques and when her friends see her in distress, they help her, using her preferred methods to calm down. The writers also made her charming, compassionate, and intelligent. I personally loved how literally she took things. It was endearing. I also was happy that nobody treated her with disdain, like she was odd. Frankly, she was no “odder” than the other characters, who all had their quirks.

I must also say that I really liked how the sex scenes were crafted in Tremontaine. They were sensual and moreso by what they hinted at, instead of graphically spelled out. This just happens to be my favourite style of the sexah in novels. Sexual orientation went beyond the cisgender-heteronormative, too, and it was great to see classic romantic themes through queer characters. I WANT TO SAY MORE BUT SPOILERS. OH, MY FREAKING WORD, PEOPLE!

So, I gave this series a 5-star rating. When something makes me want to scream, “YOU GOTTA, I MEAN, SO GOTTA READ THIS!” then it’s top marks from this Irish-Canadian princess.

I cannot wait to read Season 2. I am totally addicted.

If you’ve read it and loved Tremontaine, let me know, so we can squee together!

/cg

CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Networka blog that solely features writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic illness.

 

 

 

What the hay? I’ll write about the thirteenth Doctor Who, too.

Personally, I prefer to be called a Whooligan instead of a Whovian. If you knew me, you’d feel that made more sense. Anyway, while I’m a bit behind on catching up with my twelfth Doctor episodes, I did see the regeneration from twelve to thirteen.

My reaction on Facebook was something like:

The new Doctor is a woman. Cue the precious princes.

You see, I tend to call men with particularly fragile masculinity “precious princes.” They’re the ones who whinge and go mad about women taking over everything and ruining it—with our mere existence, I reckon. I don’t know. I just breast boobily throughout life, titting about the place, really. (Yes, this last sentence was based on one of my favourite memes about how men write female characters.)

At the announcement of Thirteen, Twitter exploded. One creative soul turned some negative comments from The Daily Mail into possible episode titles.

Instead of feeling angry, because let’s face it, this petty outrage from men is so overdone, I fell in love with TechnicallyRon’s clever tweet, particularly with A TARDIS FULL OF BRAS. That hit me where I lived as the most awesome display of feminism that could possibly exist in WhoLand.

I created this meme:

allthebras

What I would give for a giant TARDIS at a con where women everywhere could hang up bras! I wonder if there is a charitable organisation that takes bras and gives them to women in need. Hm. I would love to turn this into something altruistic and geeky at the same time. We fill a TARDIS with brand-new bras, take a photo for posterity, and then donate the bras to charity.

I must ponder this. Seriously. I’ll give it a good think. I know con-organising people!

As for the Doctor being a woman, like one person said on social media, imagine an episode where River Song meets her timelady spouse! GASP! Won’t somebody think of the children??? Someone should think about them. Children are cool when it comes to these things. Adults are the ones who tend to be stupid at times.

Anyway, watch Doctor Who. It’s fun, has bitchin’ theme music, and now comes with moar bras!

Yeah, I knew I couldn’t be too deep or upset about this. Being a woman, I’m used to women doing things. We’re like that. We do lots of different things. It’s not that shocking to us. For some reason it’s upsetting to certain men, but us? Nah.

We could so do time travel. In a time machine full of bras. We so could.

I used to write manuals for the different systems of flight simulators, in an aerospace company. I think I could navigate a little blue box.

/cg

CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Networka blog that solely features writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic illness.