time lapse photo of stars on night

Book acceptance! A new crew is coming in 2023!

I did a teaser trailer about a cool thing that I announced yesterday!

THOSE WITH LIGHT SENSITIVITY: I didn’t have a problem with the flickering border under the text or brief flash of light near the end (I have light sensitivity myself and didn’t find it that intense), but here’s a warning that it starts right after I say, “Get ready for season one,” and the text briefly flashes out toward the screen for the next three panels. If you’re unsure, please do not watch this video.

There is a dramatic score in the background, and what appears to be a whirl of stars in space after the line, “The crew of a certain science vessel tears through space.” The video is mostly text flying onto the screen and there is an audio voice-over of the text.

This is the news: Iris and the Crew will tear through space in the Fall of 2023!

ID: Book advert by Cait Gordon. Aqua background. From left to right: Iris, a platinum-haired woman in a grey uniform with a sash, bending over an aqua robot. Her left hand is on the bot’s head and her right is holding a low-vision cane. Lartha is brown-skinned with half her head shaved, revealing a tattoo that says, “Just try it.” The other half of her head has flowing, wavy magenta locks. She’s wearing a black and grey uniform and aiming a large tubular weapon in front of her. She has two prosthetic limbs, and the left one is a glowing beacon with a short black boot. Davan is blue-skinned with pointed ears and a long trunk. He’s wearing a sleeves amber and grey uniform and waves to his right. Herb is pale skinned with brown and russet wavy hair in chunky layers, just hitting his shoulders. He’s in a baggy green mechanical uniform with pockets. Herb’s back is to us as he points to the tear while trying to get Davan’s attention. Text: Season One, Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space, by Cait Gordon, Coming in the Fall of 2023
(Just an advert. Not the cover.)

I’m so excited for you to meet this crew. I loved writing this first season, although world-building a space opera while inspired by the concept of Universal Design and the Social Model of Disability… during a eugenics-based pandemic on Earth… was… interesting. I found myself diving into Iris’s world just to escape this one. This series is my dream of what things might be like if a society became so accommodating and accessible, they wouldn’t understand the need to use identity-based language for disability. All bodyminds would be celebrated as part of everyday life. They would just… be.

The Iris and the Crew series follows the adventures of a science vessel crew on a massively accessible ship, the S.S. SpoonZ. They are a part of a galactic network known as the Keangal (key’angle), where inclusivity and supports are the norm. But not everyone is living in harmony within the Keangal—most notoriously so are the dreaded Piranha Brigade pirates whose creed is to do away with anyone they consider “weak.” And they’ve discovered a new enemy in Iris and the Crew…

I gobble up so many streaming series, I decided to make one myself, in book form! My hope is to have Blind, Deaf, neurodivergent, and disabled readers find themselves represented as major characters in this story! (I think there might be abled, NT members of that crew somewhere on the ship. I mean, it is inclusive after all.)

Anyway, squeeee!

ID: Screenshot of my title page that says (Season One) Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space! by Cait Gordon

You beta believe I needed those readers!

Last week, I did a thing! I submitted Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space! to the wonderful Renaissance, who has been the publisher of my previous novels and the anthologies I’ve co-edited. It was a supremely big deal for me to get to the submission stage because my brain has been greatly affected from living in this pandemic. I could barely write anything in 2020, but in April and June of this year, all the words flooded out of me. Looking back, I can hardly believe it; there’s no way I could write that much right now.

It had been important to me to write Iris and the Crew. The world-building was inspired by Universal Design and the Social Model of Disability. I myself am a disabled, autistic, hard-of-hearing, and mentally ill human. I face some form of ableism and lack of accessibility or accommodation constantly. I needed to dive into a world where these obstacles were removed.

My wheelhouse is engaging with folks of a variety of bodyminds, and giving/receiving support, witnessing the benefits of sharing experiences, and having a lot of laughs (mostly from snark). Living in community with each other, even virtually, has enriched my life. I wanted to use my favourite fiction vehicle—space opera—to show this wonderful camaraderie. What could the adventures of a crew on a fully accessible/accommodating ship be like? And so, the world-building began.

After I’d finished the first draft, I tried doing what I’d always done: prepare a cleaner draft for Beta readers. Easy-peasy, right? I mean, I wasn’t new at this.

Wrong. So much all the wrongness.

Holy stars, it felt like pulling teeth to turn the manuscript into a crisper draft. My mind was just exhausted, and I couldn’t concentrate. I had to break things into smaller and smaller chunks just to achieve anything resembling decent writing. Sure, I was battling a situational depression (and the situation causing my depression was pan-global, so yay), but writing has always been my refuge during mental health crises. Welp, this was different. Brain spoons were sorely limited. And I know I am not alone here, as many of my fellow disabled/ND friends were also experiencing concentration issues with reading and writing these past 20+ months.

Still, to the rescue came a band of trusty beta readers. While I have always treasured having help from Betas, this time, I needed them more than ever. I’d just conked out from preparing my manuscript, and it wasn’t up to snuff, but they were so understanding. A few even helped me with grammar and typos (something I am usually sharp at catching myself). Some helped me with inconsistencies and pointing out character strengths and things that could be improved. In short, I received solid feedback for getting to the next stage in the writing process, and I couldn’t be more grateful for their thoroughness. I just couldn’t get there by myself at all.

And going through all the comments also felt like lifting weights in my head. I made sure to edit it really slowly, so I could concentrate. I took much longer than I would have in the BeforeTime. I got there, though!

Now, the manuscript is with my publisher, ready for the next step, which will be putting it under the care of professional sensitivity editors. I did research a ton while writing this first “season” of Iris and the Crew, and from information provided by people with lived experiences, but I know I’ll feel even more confident with another vetting. My goal is for readers to gleefully find something relatable in the crew members. Just enough for them to cry, “Hey! It me!”

I will be thanking all the beta readers (and sensitivity editors/readers) in the Acknowledgement section of the book. Because without them, I’d still have an unfinished work sitting on my laptop.

In the meantime, thanks, folks. You know who you are. ❤

Closeup of me. I'm a white woman with bobbed silver hair tucked behind my ear. I have a youngish face. I'm wearing a grey tee that has in old English font: "Hmmm..." Geralt of Rivia

Cait Gordon is a Canadian autistic, disabled, and queer author of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She also co-edited Nothing Without Us with Talia C. Johnson, a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist for Best Related Work that has thrice been part of a disability studies syllabus at Trent University. (The submission window for Nothing Without Us Too is currently open until Jan 31, 2022!) When not fine-tuning manuscripts, Cait advocates for disability representation and is the founder of the Spoonie Authors Network.

ID: Hallway with an elevator. White circle in the middle of the photo with text that reads: Worldbuilding Deep Dive: Accessibility in Worldbuilding

Accessibility in Worldbuilding panel video available now!

I had the honour of being invited by Canadian dark fantasy author Dianna Gunn to moderate a panel called Accessibility in Worldbuilding as part of her Worldbuilding Deep Dive con in February of this year.

This is a topic that’s dear to my heart as a disabled, hard-of-hearing, and autistic reader and a writer (Iris and the Crew is totally about this type of worldbuilding). So, I jumped at the chance!

The panelists are just stars: Dianna Gunn, Stephen Graham King, and Mary Kit Caelsto.

You can watch it here!

Closed captions are available for this video.

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to be wise and think of others as we battle COVID-19!

Cait is also the author of humorous space opera novels Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers, and she is the co-editor of the Prix Aurora Award nominated anthology Nothing Without Us. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Her latest new adventure is hosting the In the ’Cosm podcast, which is really an excuse to gush over authors she admires.