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.

I’ll be at Queer Between the Covers!

rainbow bookHey, lovely readers!

I’ll be in Montreal on August 19, 2017 at the Queer Between the Covers event at Pride because it sounds like super fun and let’s face it, my book is also queer between its covers!

WHERE? 1700 Rue Amherst, Montréal, QC H2L 3L5, Canada
WHAT TIME? 11pm to 5 pm.

You’ll find me at the Renaissance table selling Life in the ’Cosm and other cool books. Bring your book and I’ll sign it! Or, buy a book or get your friend to buy a book or ASK EVERYONE TO BUY MY BOOK! And I’ll sign them. The books. Not your friends.

Warning: I’m frighteningly friendly, but I promise not to spontaneously hug you. Or sniff you. (Shut up, Amy. In my defence, she smelled like freshly-washed laundry. She’s never let me live that one down.)

I’m Writing like Lady and The Tramp Eat Spaghetti

Um, okay, this is a bit different for me. Maybe for you it’s perfectly fine, but I’m a bit surprised at myself.

I am currently writing the first draft (or trying to anyway while LIFE keeps smacking me in the face) of the second book in the ’Cosm Series. There are several new characters, but I’m having just as much fun as when I wrote Life in the ’Cosm. The only thing is that I sort of wrote the first book in a straight line. At least I did for about 23 chapters, and then I came up with the ending. But I sort of continued in a straightish line after that.

pasta

With Book, Too (not the title, I promise), I wrote three chapters and then the last chapter. Then I wrote some more and went back to beef up the last chapter. Then I wrote yet more and then scenes kept popping into my head, so I jotted them down. Then I wrote the second-to-last chapter. I’m not sure if I’m writing the same way that Lady and the Tramp ate spaghetti, from both ends, hoping to meet in the middle.

And with these extra scenes randomly spewing from my brain, I wonder if this book will be coughed out like hairballs. Oh well, I do like puzzles. Even sopping wet hairball ones.

Perhaps this is why some authors use tools like Scrivener. I hear it’s great for organising scenes and characters and such. However, I am stubbornly sticking with my Google Docs and a table of contents that helps me remember where I’ve put stuff. I’m barely organised as a creative writer and I sort of love that. After forever as a tech writer, it’s nice to be so wheeeeeeeee about writing. Yes, that was the appropriate amount of e’s for that word.

With all my editing assignments in the next few months, I’m not sure when I’ll finish this first draft, but I’ll steal moments the way I did with ’Cosm. I’m in no rush, and I loathe the thought of pushing something out for the sake of an imaginary deadline. I want to create and not fret. When you write as silly content as I do, being stressed is not a good place. Being chill leads to the silly.

So, off I return to the spaghetti eating!

Gosh, I love pasta.

I should make pasta for lunch.

And maybe watch Lady and the Tramp.

/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. She might make pasta for lunch.