If you don’t know me, then you might not grasp how shocking the title of this post is. Anyone who’s encountered me on social media or in real life knows that I love cupcakes. My erotic fantasy is Ewan McGregor giving me a come hither look while holding up a tray of assorted gluten-free, vegan fairy cakes. (He can even walk away and leave the tray of cakes, really.)
But as much as I love icing, there’s more to me and my writing than that.
Life in the ’Cosm: not just cake in space
When you write a book you’re also tasked with some self-promotion. I normally would add this tagline: Life in the ’Cosm, a story about love, adventure, and dessert. Or, I’d call it a comedy sci-fi with an unusual amount of cake.
While my book is funny (I know this because people have told me), and my protagonist Virj Ofreesin loves eating sweets, the story goes beyond the cupcake. Even though every character is made up, a lot of different feelings I had went into the book.
Because I hadn’t planned to get published originally, I wrote without limits or expecting anyone to read it. So, I went down a few roads that I wanted to explore:
- Discrimination against LGBTQIA people by para-religious organisations.
- Truly gracious spirituality versus religiosity.
- Gender fluidity and changing preconceived gender roles.
- Diversity in sexuality.
- Dealing with disability.
- Cyber affairs.
- Chasing fantasy to the exclusion of those who truly love you.
If you haven’t read the book, you’re probably thinking, This is a comedy? If life has taught me anything, it’s that even during the heaviest and deepest moments, something happens that makes me laugh. My darkest moments also have included some of the funniest memories. I think seeing the humorous side of things has kept me alive.
Warning: an expressive extrovert lives here
Writer Amy M. Young called me an extroverted tornado, but she admits that I am extremely introvert-friendly. So, I have that going for me. Whoot!
While I like to talk about cake and can do it forever and ever and ever, I will get passionate about issues that matter to me. One of the reasons my writing includes characters who are gender-amazing and/or are more than cishet (cisgender and heterosexual) is because the majority of my close friends can claim one or several letters in the LGBTQIA acronym. What they endure matters to me, and even though I’m cishet myself, I really want to include gender and sexual diversity in my books. To me, it’s a reflection of real life.
Because I also manage a disability, it was important to me to include a character in Life in the ’Cosm who deals with one, too. She is also feisty to a fault, and robustly sexually active. You know what? We who live with disabilities like sex. Yet, it’s often thought that it’s taboo to think of us that way. (See my post in the Spoonie Authors Network blog called, Sexy and disabled: yes, you can be both!).
So, I often use my creative writing, non-fiction blogs, and social media statuses to discuss my viewpoints in these areas.
(Btw, if you’re wondering why I didn’t include people of colour as part of my creative writing, it’s only because almost every single character is a different colour from each other. In real life, I am very pro ethnic and racial diversity. Heck, I grew up in Montreal, Quebec. It was like having the whole world in one city!)
So, yeah, and stuff like that.
Anyway, just wanted to share a wee bit o’ insight into my own character. But please do not interpret this as my putting cupcakes as a lower priority in my life. I can love people and be an activist and an author while eating dessert, too. I can multitask, you know.
Hm. This post’s made me hungry. I think I need to merge some ingredients now.
Cait 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 Press). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network blog.
He’s oozy and slimy, resembles a fried egg, and is probably judging you right now. He’s the Ovum known as Splot.
In Life in the ‘Cosm, we learn that several years before the story begins, Virj Ofreesin finds an alien known as an Ovum on his breakfast plate at a cheap diner. Instead of eating him, or reporting the restaurant to Planet Cinneh’s food inspection authorities, Virj takes the little guy home as a pet and gives him the name Splot.
The two beings form an interesting pair-bond, and Splot begins to communicate with Virj telepathically. While the Ova use telepathy to talk to each other all the time, an Ovum can only choose one person outside their species to speak to in this fashion. Splot chose Virj. Sounds sweet until you discover the types of things Splot actually says.
“Seriously, what are you, some kind of numpty?”
“Not now, Splot.”
Poor Virj can also pick up Splot thinking aloud or speaking to another Ovum, just like one’s overhears someone talking.
“Don’t look at me! It’s not my fault he’s useless with women!”
“I heard that!” shouted Virj from the hallway.
And it’s extremely difficult for Virj to have a bit of erm, um, self-caring private time, because the Ovum crawls all over the flat and can appear out of nowhere.
[Virj’s] breath burst out of his lungs. That didn’t take long.
“What the blazes are you doing with that thing?” asked Splot.
I had a lot of fun writing Splot’s dialogue, because it was often one line here and one line there. (Personally, I think Splot says the things that many of us are thinking. ) And because he only has these huge eyes to gesture with, I needed to face the challenge of making that work, too.
One time I was fooling with my stylus and I came up with this sketch:
His expression made me laugh so hard. I felt it relayed the essence of his character, and used it as an emoji of sorts when communicating to my friends in private messages. Often, I prefaced the image with the line, “I’m making the Splot face.” It’s such a perfect catch-all for when you want to be a little judgmental, but still funny.
Whenever I hear a reader tell me they also love Splot, it makes me happy. I love him, too. He’s on my screen looking at me right now, just like that sketch, wondering why I’m not writing my second book. An odd sort of motivational poster, but it works for me.
She likes thrift stores, glitter, bold colours (mostly pink), and her hair looks like a giant follicular umbrella. She’s annoyingly cheerful, probably the worst roller blader in galactic history, but her tenacity is unbreakable. She’s an expressive extrovert. She’s fighting a mobility disability. She’s Virj’s sidekick. She’s Noola Quirk.
I had no idea I’d invent Noola. Mind you, I had no idea what was going to happen in Life in the ‘Cosm as I was writing it. That was half the fun.
At the time I began ‘Cosm, my mobility had become severely impaired by the chronic pain and complications of fibromyalgia and arthritis. A few years before all of this, I was running. But in 2014, I couldn’t walk without a cane, and getting upstairs had been so challenging, I thought we might have to move. My spirits were low.
Then chapter three happened. That’s where Virj is trying to buy a birthday present for his crush, the unattainable and elegant Frayda, who is permanently attached to Jobie, because they share the same body. In the mall at the Delta Mews Business Park, Virj takes one moment to stop feeling sorry for himself and as he gets up off a bench, WHAM! A streak of colour and glitter literally runs him over. Noola Quirk rammed her way into his life on her rollerboots, on an overly waxed mall floor. And pretty much from that moment on, Virj cannot get rid of her.
She’s sanguine. He’s melancholic. She loves people. Him, not so much. She is so friendly, she says hi to hundreds of sentient daisies growing in a field. He’d prefer to be left alone in a fuzzy white robe, in his hotel room, writing. They have nothing in common. Except maybe a whacky adventure to find the mystical Slawncha leaves that will save Frayda’s life, when Frayda and Jobie become gravely ill.
I love her spirit and her optimism. I even love her lapses in judgment. A lot of myself as a once twentysomething went into her. (My husband unit says I am still Noola. I’m not sure. I do say, “Whatcha doin?” a lot, though.) Her lust for life amid the uncertainty of living with a disability helped keep me going. I need Noola. I think a lot of us with disabilities need to strive to tap into our inner Noola. She’s not a giver upper.
It was a riot to show their differences at times. Poor introverted Virj. He just wanted to go solo on this mission. Noola wouldn’t have it. I know from my friends that the worse thing for an introvert who needs to re-energize is an extrovert who never leaves their side.
“I’m sorry, Virj.”
“I’m not talking to you.”
“You sorta did right there.”
“Only because I need you to know I’m not talking to you.”
“How’s your bum?”
“I’m not talking to you, Noola.”
“Can I see?”
“Leave me alone.”
~ Life in the ‘Cosm, Chapter 26
In the book, the narrator says Sonny has a popular food blog called ‘Sentient Sonny’s Sweets and Savouries’. Today I thought I’d start to transfer my recipes to a blog of the same name. Stay tuned for yummy meals that are gluten free and sometimes vegan!