photo of rainbow colored painting on canvas

Pride and PEW-PEW-PEW!

It’s Pride month, and I am a queer author (abrosexual, or as I like to say, a graceful watermelon). I’m also autistic and disabled, as many of you already know. You probably also already know that the first book of my new disability hopepunk series, Season One: Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space!, is coming to Earth on September 15, 2023.

What’s on my mind today is how Pride feels different this year. I came out later in life, so even in my 50s, I am a “baby queer” or maybe a “toddler queer” now. (Guess that means I say no a lot and prefer that sippy cup over there—wait, not that sippy cup, that one!) But regardless of when I claimed my identity—and it’s something one does at their own time, so no pressure on anyone—I am still part of this community. I really care about how its getting attacked. Hate is levelling up against us, and this is unacceptable. Hate, sadly, is nothing new, but it’s pretty freaking loud these days. Gaslighters also seem to want to blame us for everything instead of looking to the real issues of society, such as greed, toxic entitlement, selfish-as-heckness, lack of supports for physical and mental health, lack of all kinds of accessibility, and fear-mongering.

As an author, it also strikes me hard that banning books by us is on the rise. Well, historically, fascism and controlling authorities never like ideas. So, the thought of fiction that promotes celebration of diversity or nonfiction that underscores a reality…these written works can be super threatening to some folks.

Which, I will never understand. Diversity makes the world rich, interesting, and beautiful. Stories and memoirs educate, enrapture, and expand our minds. Why would we want to limit ourselves to reading only one lifestyle and only one narrative? That’s boring and doesn’t reflect reality.

While I want allies to stand with us, I also want folks who are LGBTQIA2S+ to stand with their disabled, d/Deaf, Blind, neurodivergent siblings in our communities. Accessibility and accommodation at Pride and other events are a sign of love too!

As for bringing up my book, I told a friend that I was so focused on having inclusion of disability, neurotypes, and states of being, it only hit me later that the entire principle cast of Iris and the Crew is part of our rainbow acronym. I guess my real-life experience is being surrounded by queer humans in the disability community, so I just naturally wrote characters who reflected what I know. And this makes me happy. My hope is that it inspires (in a healthy way…not inspiration-porny ways) to have this kind of inclusion and body celebration in our communities. I would love people to “get ideas” from my story, which motivates them to love and not hate.

One of the most moving reader-feedback for me was when a friend of the family who is in his 80s read my book, The Stealth Lovers, and said, “I never realized two men could love each other that way.” It’s not that he was homophobic, but I think perhaps he just never had that exposure. And he really enjoyed the story. Sometimes an introduction to queer realities can even be through fiction.

I love space opera as a genre and of course, I love being in Queer-Disabled community. So, I guess my writing is about the Pride and the PEW-PEW-PEW! (With apologies to Jane Austen… although now I want to write this as a novel.)

This month, I would encourage you to support authors who are LGBTQIA2S+. Seek their works. Ask for them in your local libraries and indie bookstores. We typically put a lot of love into our stories and want them to be out in the world. Give books reviews. Recommend them to friends.

So, ally humans, if you come across trans-/bi-/homo-/queerphobia, let people know (if it’s safe for you to do so) that you don’t accept that kind of hatred. Even by saying something like, “I care about the human rights of all people and refuse to discriminate.”

Queer humans, this month might be hard for you and you might need a rest from educating people about your lived experiences. Or, you might feel stressed that you must come out (again, there’s no pressure and only do things if you are safe). I wish you a good Pride month, whatever that means for you.

I wish I could be more eloquent about all of this, but let me end this post by saying that I am sending love to you all. We can always use more love, right?

Yeah, I think so too.

A greyscale close-up of me, standing in front of a blank background. I am a white woman with short silver hair cropped closely on the sides. I am wearing dark metallic rimmed glasses with rhinestones on the side. I’m wearing silver hook earrings with flat beads and a plaid shirt.

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the award-nominated, multi-genre, disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too.

Header photo by Steve Johnson on

My desk with my ipad displaying the cover of my book. My laptop has a sticker that says “ableism sucks,” and there’s a little figurine of an alien with green hair that’s from another WIP!

Iris and the Crew is available for pre-order at some locations!

Bodymind celebration? An accessible ship? And PEW-PEW-PEW?

You betcha!

(There might also be scenes of dessert-eating! After all, this is a Cait Gordon space opera…)

But much excite! The paperback of Season One: Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space! is now available to pre-order at certain locations:

If you’re in Canada, you can visit the 49th Shelf website and click the Shop Local button to discover which indie shops carry it near you. Wherever you are on this rotating orb, maybe you ask if your local indie bookstore can order it for you! (And thanks to all who support the works of disabled creatives.)

When the ebook is released, I will update you all for sure! I have been told there will be an audiobook as well, but that will be released perhaps in 2024. I will keep you posted on all updates!

Cover of the book with a quote from Amanda Leduc that reads: "Readers, get ready—for the gleekin’ ride of your life! Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space is an exuberant romp that ditches all the stale clichés of sci-fi in favour of what’s fresh, exciting, and truly possible. Here is a tale that shows when it comes to accessibility, not even the sky is the limit. Buckle up and enjoy!” 

There is also an acknowledgement of the support we received from the Canada Council of the Arts.

This is the fifth book with my name on it, and the squeefulness is still there. Maybe even more so because writing a disability hope-punk space opera in the middle of a global pandemic was really something. I can never say that enough. I’m so thrilled to Renaissance for once again believing in my work.

Yay! All the yay!

A greyscale close-up of me, standing in front of a blank background. I am a white woman with short silver hair cropped closely on the sides. I am wearing dark metallic rimmed glasses with rhinestones on the side. I’m wearing silver hook earrings with flat beads and a plaid shirt.

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the award-nominated, multi-genre, disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too.

Mini-novel Monday: I’m off Camping! Well, sort of.

So far, 2023 has been a whirlwind of drama from all dimensions. I’ve been on antibiotics for five out of twelve weeks (hopefully, it’s all over now), I yeeted Twitter into the stratosphere, I set even more boundaries on social media, I did several virtual panels and a reading, and I’ve been working on the cover design illustration for Sesaon One: Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space!

Time for a rest, right?

Well, I have decided to go camping. Camp NaNoWriMo style, that is!

I have been benevolently threatening to write a romance novel for years now. While I add romantic elements in all of my novels, I’m not really a romance author. And guess what? I’m still not! As if that’s gonna stop me from trying a thing this month!

My project is a 40K-ish novel titled Hot Wings and Sauciness. It’s the awkward space opera romance nobody asked for! Whoo! I’m going back to my roots of silliness but adding some spice too—a romance through the filter of my autistic brain. In fact, the protagonist, Colleen O’Donnell, is a snarky and saucy space station technician in her 50s who is autistic and disabled. Perfect leading lady, imo.


Anyway, she hasn’t been in a relationship in years but isn’t bothered about that at all. Yet, one day on the job as she’s heading to service an air filtration unit for a melodramatic dowager countess, her friend ’Brina messages her to be on the alert for “Captain Hot Wings.” ’Brina even calls him a potential match for Colleen. Of course, Colleen dismisses the idea of this Adonis right away, but her brain keeps nudging her to be curious.

But there’s not much time to think of this guy. ’Brina and Sharon have invited a bunch of their friends, including Colleen, out for a hen party to celebrate their upcoming nuptials. And no better place to go than the Coq of the Walk, which features exotic male dancers and the best chicken wings in the solar system. Colleen would rather shave her eyelids than head there, but she’ll go along to support her friend.

Little does she know their group will all be at this hen party… dressed as hens.

Colleen then discovers an entire spectrum of being unimpressed while a stranger behind her cannot help but be amused at the expression on her face.

So, yeah, it’s absurdist and ridiculous, and a much-needed project. I have been so hard at work during this pandemic with the Nothing Without Us Too anthology and Iris and the Crew, it’s time to go back to my roots of playful and absurd humour. It’s also nice to have a protagonist who shares my neurotype, age, and disability. I can just put my foot on the gas and vrrrm!

I have about 3K written so far and will write more this afternoon!

A camping I will go!

(I love NaNoWriMo for motivation. Have you had good experiences? Let me know in the comments!)

A greyscale close-up of me, standing in front of a blank background. I am a white woman with short silver hair cropped closely on the sides. I am wearing dark metallic rimmed glasses with rhinestones on the side. I’m wearing silver hook earrings with flat beads and a plaid shirt.

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too. 

Featured photo is a screen grab of my Camp NaNoWriMo dashboard

Starry background with an aqua-grey spaceship called the SS SpoonZ. It’s centre hull looks like a giant spoon as does the chassis frame on each side. The overall framing is kind of like a triangle, but with spoons creating roundness.

Mini-excerpt Monday: Episode 5 of Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space—read by me at Ephemera!

On March 15, I had the great honour of being one of the guest authors at the award-nominated and wonderful ephemera reading series. I was sick as heck (but hey, when am I not) and still had a blast!

I am the first author to read, but I strongly encourage you to watch the entire thing. The other guest authors are Eric Choi and Jae Waller! And there’s a cool performance by Cristianna and Josh Formeller.

It’s my first-ever public reading of Season One: Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space, and I chose an excerpt from “Episode 5: Beachfront Learns a Thing.” It stars junior security officer Lieutenant Marq Bronwryck. He comes from wealth and privilege and considers himself above everyone and everything—even chief of security Lieutenant Commander Leanna Lartha (hard to imagine that because she’s freaking awesome). He might also think he’s above needing protective equipment when a mysterious mist invades the shuttle he’s in with Lieutenant Sasha. But hey, who needs a mask, right? Not like they’ve ever been important…cough.

Hope you enjoy it! There are closed captions, but auto-generated captions misspell stuff, unfortunately. I included the excerpt of my story below the embedded video.

Transcript of my reading (Episode 5, Beachfront Learns a Thing, by Cait Gordon, advanced copy courtesy of Renaissance)

Content note for ableist attitude, and characters experiencing pain, discomfort, and/or anxiety

After being released from Medical, Marq Bronwryck was fortunately not sent back there by Lartha, but was threatened with a dishonourable discharge—through an empty weapons bay. It had been made abundantly clear to him that because of some admiral’s impending arrival, Security Chief Lartha had no time or resources to dedicate to Bronwryck’s dismissal. This discourse had even been done remotely through a comm because she had been so busy. However, she would have no problem bringing up a discharge plea to the captain once the soon-arriving admiral had been escorted to their destination. 

So, his only option was to smarten up. He definitely couldn’t face his family after a dishonourable discharge. What would everyone say at the club? The shame upon him and his family would render them social outcasts.

Bronwryck wandered about random corridors since he would only be on duty in an hour. He moped inwardly, blaming everyone but himself for this current situation. Sasha, for veering into that weird nebula-turned-swarm thing; Rivers and Rennick, for overreacting and keeping him in sick bay; and Lartha, for being such a grouch all the time.  

He shuffled around a corner and without warning, collapsed to the floor, clenching his thighs. The air fled his lungs and when he looked up, he saw his superior officer chatting into her arm band, a short distance away. Her back was to him.

“Yeah, we’re gonna have to step it up when the admiral comes on board. We’ll be a flagship when they arrive, and I want no sloppiness, Reez.” Lartha rubbed her thighs with an almost imperceptible wince. “Absolutely. Let’s get on that for sure.” She limped over to a reddish-orange horizontal stripe that spanned the corridor wall, one of many that were ubiquitous on the ship. She placed her right palm on it and said, “Chair.”

“What type?” said the AI.


A hover-chair materialized in front of her. Lartha sat down and continued her conversation with Lieutenant Reez as she zipped away.

The pain in Bronwryck’s legs vanished. What in the worlds? He stood up and leaned against a wall, watching her.

Down the far end of the corridor, a woman with a walking stick exhaled with a whistle, then tapped her cane in a certain pattern. The corridor’s Accessible Tech stripe illuminated by her. She signed, “Chair.”

Text appeared on the stripe. “What kind?”


A motorized wheelchair appeared before the woman, and she sat in it, just as Lartha approached her. The security chief signed her greeting, and they high-fived each other with a laugh as their chairs passed.

When the woman neared Bronwryck, she greeted him, and he signed back. But as soon as her chair got closer, a sensation overtook him at once that felt like searing vibrating rods had been impaled in his hips, knees, and ankles.

The other officer didn’t notice as she had stopped to text into her armband. Then she rapidly turned the corner.

Bronwryck’s cheeks streamed with tears. And suddenly, again, the pain disappeared. Did I work out too hard this morning? I’ve never had muscle and joint stuff that just came and went, though.

“Good morning, Lieutenant Bronwryck,” said Iris.

He yelped, not expecting her to be there, turned to face her, then immediately clutched his head. 

“Are you all right?” she asked.

Bronwryck closed his eyes and opened them. “Ahh!” He blinked a few times and tried again. “Okay, what is this? What’s going on with me today???”

Iris took his arm gently. “Whatever it is, I’m here! What can I do to help?”

“First pain, like lots of it. Then none. And now, everything’s like, hyper-clear, my vision I mean. It’s making me really dizzy!”

“Right, I’m calling Medical.” Iris pressed her palm against the AT-stripe and said, “Transport chair.”

Once again, a chair appeared. 

“I got a transport one because I’d like to take you there myself,” Iris explained.

“Help me! I don’t want to open my eyes ’cause I can’t focus without wanting to barf!”

“Don’t worry,” said Iris, then spoke into her forearm band. “Urgent Care, this is Lieutenant Iris.”

“Receiving, Lieutenant Iris. What is the nature of your urgency?”

“I’m bringing in Lieutenant Marq Bronwryck. He’s experiencing severe dizziness from what appears to be sudden onset visual hyper-acuity.”

“Copy that. We’ll be ready for him.”

“Thank you. Iris out.”

Bronwryck trembled. Iris patted his shoulder.

“Don’t be alarmed,” she said. “We’ll figure this out.”

“I’m not scared,” he lied. “I will beat this!”

Iris made a face. “Or you’ll adapt. I did.”

“Lieutenant Iris, report to the command deck. Lieutenant Iris, report to the command deck.”

“Oh, fweep.”

“You’re not going to leave me, are you?” cried Bronwryck.

“Um, just hold on a second.” Iris peered from side to side, then smiled with relief as she spotted Davan down the corridor. She called out to get his attention.

He smiled with his eyes, then switched to an expression of surprise, noticing Bronwryck in the transport hover-chair. “What is going on?” he signed while running toward them.

Bronwryck tried to respond but found he couldn’t create audible words with his mouth. His eyes fired out his alarm.

“I can’t speak, I can’t speak,” he signed.

Davan titled his head, perplexed. “No, you’re doing just fine. I can understand you completely.”

“No, no,” Bronwryck signed. “I can’t form words with my vocal cords!” 

Iris frowned and held her chin for a moment before signing, “Davan, I have to go to the bridge. Will you please escort Bronwryck to Medical? And better update them. It started as pain, then his vision, and now his oral communication is affected.”

“Sure. I can take him,” signed Davan.

“Good, thanks!” she signed. “Okay, Lieutenant, you’re safe as houses with Commander Davan. You’ll get answers soon enough, I’m sure of it,” she said.

“Thank you,” he signed miserably.

Iris and Davan exchanged a glance, then she darted off to the nearest lift.

As soon as she left, Bronwryck’s vision returned to how he’d always experienced it. He sighed with relief. He tried telling Davan, but his vocal cords would still not obey. He reached out to touch Davan’s arm.

Davan stopped guiding the transport chair and stood in front of Bronwryck.

“You want to tell me something?” the commander signed.

“My vision is okay,” signed Bronwryck.

“I’m not sure what that means.”

“My vision is normal.”

“Uhhh…” Davan spelled.

“I still can’t talk out loud, though. I can only sign. This sucks.”

 “I beg your pardon?”

“Wow, you’re really a winner, aren’t you?”

Bronwryck jolted in his chair. “Who said that?” he signed. “Did you hear that?” 

“Hear what?” signed Davan.

“That voice!”

“I didn’t hear anything. Is your thought-receiver activated?”

Bronwryck checked. “No. But it felt like it was.”

“Let’s get you to Medical.”

Scene break

“Can you please explain to me what you’re experiencing?” asked the triage nurse.

“Well, I had this weird nerve thing in my legs, but then it disappeared. Next, my vision made me feel I could see through time, but then it got back to usual. And now I can’t communicate,” Bronwryck signed.

“You’re communicating fine,” she signed back.

“No, I mean out loud.”

“Can you show me what happens when you try to speak orally?”

Bronwryck opened his mouth. “Right, I… hey! I can talk! What the gleek? Why is everything stopping and restarting for me?”

“I can’t say for sure,” said the nurse, “but we’ll keep you here for observation. I know Doctor Rivers will want to perform some tests and give you a full examination.”

“But I had one when Sasha and I got quarantined. No virus or anything. Can’t I just return for duty now?”

“Sit tight,” said the nurse. “I’ll get the doctor.”

“Fine,” he said and folded his arms yet again in a right sulk.

“Caught on yet, genius?”

Bronwryck yelped and glanced around the room. He removed his pocket scanner and searched for life signs. It seemed like it was just him in the room. Then he remembered that Engineering had tweaked the capabilities of Security’s scanners, under the new configuration Lieutenant Commander Herbert had designed. Bronwryck modified his settings to allow for the fullest detection of organic sentient life.

Instead of one reading, his own, there were now two.

“Hello, you razor-sharp thing, you!”

The junior security officer leapt off his chair.

“HELP, HELP ME!” he screamed.

The voice inside his head merely groaned.

Scene break

“Well, this is peculiar,” Doctor Rivers muttered while studying the readings in his examination room. Holographic, floating touch-displays eased the pressure on his finger joints and could be brought to whatever position he was at, whether sitting or standing. And this afternoon, the equipment had been modified with the parameters gleaned from Herb’s upgrades of Security’s handheld scanner.

Bronwryck lay very still on the cot. He was afraid to move.

“I still can’t make out anything,” said Rivers. “Are you sure you got two readings?”

“Of course I’m sure!”

“No need to shout. It’s just that I’m not picking up a secondary life form.”

“Oh, fine.”

Rivers jerked his head. “Ah, there we go!”

“And did you hear the voice?” asked Bronwryck.

“Voice? No. But I can make out a blip on your anterior insular cortex. In your brain configuration, it plays a strong role in helping you process things like compassion, empathy…”

“Should I explain what those are? Because it’s like a void in here.”

“Hey!” said Bronwryck. “That’s not very nice.”

“What did I say?” said Rivers. “This is actually the location on your brain scan.”

“No, not you. I was talking to the thing.”

“The thing? Now who’s not being nice?!”

Bronwryck clutched his head. “You’re sure you can’t hear it, Doctor Rivers?”

“I am not an ‘it.’”

“Sorry. What’s your pronouns?”

“He/him,” said Rivers.

“Not you!”

Rivers gestured like he was about to give up on the conversation. “What is going on? Who are you addressing?”

“We refer to ourselves as ‘I’, or ‘we’ as a group, but we never refer to other individuals of our species with a pronoun. Only by our name. You may call me Maddox.”

“Lieutenant Bronwryck?” asked Rivers.

The security officer took a deep breath and slowly let it out. He raised his head to face the doctor. “Yeah, okay, so I’m talking to Maddox.”

“Who’s that?”

“The blip on my brain scan.”

“Of all the beings to cohabitate in symbiosis for life, this is the brain-meat I end up with .”

Excerpt from Season One: Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space! © 2023 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. This is a work of fiction from the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.

A greyscale close-up of me, standing in front of a blank background. I am a white woman with short silver hair cropped closely on the sides. I am wearing dark metallic rimmed glasses with rhinestones on the side. I’m wearing silver hook earrings with flat beads and a plaid shirt.

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too. 

Featured photo is the S.S. SpoonZ, drawn by Cait Gordon

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!

bee on a yellow flower

What the heck has Cait been doing???

Hi, fellow followers! It’s been a good while since I’ve posted here. That’s because I took a work hiatus from my freelance editing career to focus on my latest WIP, Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space! I am happy to say that the hiatus was successful and the first “season” of this episodic series is off with beta readers! (I really want a streaming series and am not famous enough for one, so I decided to put mine in book form.) Iris and the Crew is about the adventures of the crew of a science vessel, the S.S. SpoonZ, which is a ship that’s fully accessible and whose society provides all sorts of accommodations. It combines my love for disability advocacy with space opera, humour, and mentions of cake. I have been invited to submit it to my publisher, Renaissance, and hope to do that in December of this year.

All good hiatuses come to an end, though, and September meant back to work for me as an editor. And now, on October 1, I resume the role of co-editor in chief with my BFF, Talia C. Johnson for the Nothing Without Us Too anthology. Once again, we’re seeking stories for this multi-genre collection, from authors who are disabled, d/Deaf, Blind, neurodivergent, and/or who manage chronic illness and/or mental illness. It’s going to be a challenge doing this anthology with a pandemic over our heads, but Talia and I are all in. Our brand of quirky humour will see us through.

Part of the self-care I did during the hiatus was being really honest with myself. I’d planned for a great second season of my In the ’Cosm podcast. Unfortunately, I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage the production of it and work on the anthology. My guest authors were amazingly understanding. Mental and physical health comes first. Hopefully one day, when things get a little easier, I can resume with that podcast. I had so much fun doing the first season!

And that’s what the heck I’ve been doing. If you’d like to support the works of this wee author, please visit my All Published Works page. Or just follow me on this blog and my social media. Let’s connect!

Happy spooky season! Woooooo!

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: Dashboard screenshot for CampNanoWriMo. Mockup cover of Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space. Goal indicator reads 20,063 words out of 20,000.

How I Wrote Over 20K Words in April 2021

I have absolutely no clue how I had the endurance to manage it.

But I did it.

I set a goal of 20,000 words for CampNaNoWriMo this April and just passed it this afternoon, three days early.

Why this is amazing to me is because of the state I am in at present. The pandemic and the complete bumbling of the vaccine rollout in my province, along with living in an unaltered lockdown mode since March 2020 have walloped my mental health into another dimension. Because I am disabled and a higher-risk person for COVID-19, I have had to live in a protected way so as not to catch the virus at all. And in 2020, my brain burnt out. I could barely write a word. I even had to take an editing hiatus because I couldn’t concentrate on the written word. I couldn’t even read for pleasure.

Slowly in the fall of 2020, I began to regain my ability to read and edit again, and took on some work. But in March 2021, I felt another hiatus was needed, as my fatigue levels were off the chart, even for a fibromyalgia person. My mental health was in the toilet. The only thing I knew that could help me recover was rest…

…and writing.

I mean, after all, I did write The Stealth Lovers during a period when I suffered panic attacks even in my sleep. Writing those zany lizard-men warriors had comforted me, made me laugh, and took me to another place. Writing was self-care.

Writing is self-care for me. And so, I realized this year, I would take my editing hiatus right before CampNaNoWriMo. I thought, Welp, I’m wiped out, but I really want to work on Iris and the Crew, so maybe a smaller goal? I mean, I can stop any time, if it’s too much for me.

That’s a big rule for me about these NaNos. Don’t do them at the expense of my health.

So, I figured 20,000 words meant 667 words a day. That shouldn’t be too-too bad.

And then a thing happened. Amid all the eugenics-based messages of 13 months and counting, when disabled and chronically ill people like me have been told in so many words that we don’t matter enough to be protected from COVID-19 or kept alive during a triage situation, I dived into Iris and the Crew‘s world-building. This cast of characters are assigned aboard a science and tech vessel where being disabled, Deaf, neurodivergent, Blind, mentally ill—all these things—don’t present a problem. All accommodations are met. The ship is fully accessible. They have med-tech units, physical therapy, mental wellness centres, all the assistive tech you can eat. (Maybe don’t eat your assistive tech though.) And this culture goes beyond the ship. Planetary and lunar civilizations offer accommodations as a natural part of life. They’re not an “inconvenient” add-on. The world of Iris and the Crew is my dream-space. There are no eugenics. You can be as you are and be an admiral of a fleet, a head of security, a communications officer, chief engineer, second-in-command, and a captain. You’re not set off to the side. How you are is respected and your supports are met. And if you are autistic, nobody is speaking over you or expecting you to become neurotypical.

This is where I need to live right now. I need to exist in a place where people like me matter.

Because that’s the message that’s getting missed right here on Earth.

It’s no wonder I wrote 20,000 words. I was starved for a life where I matter, so I had to create a safe space.

The book is not finished yet, but the groove I have established with writing a little each day, sometimes skipping a day here and there, could mean that this is the summer when I have a first draft written.

While I am super excited that Renaissance has already accepted my pitch, earning me a chance to submit Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space for review by the Acquisitions Committee, one thing has been made really clear to me.

I’m writing this book to soothe myself, to imagine a place where disability is never a societal big deal, and where someone like me can soar among the stars.

Writing this book is definitely self-care.

And my plan is to finish it in hopes that I can invite others along for the ride so we can all tear through space!

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.

ID: Cait and Stephen Graham King on Zoom during the recording of this podcast episode.

In the ’Cosm Podcast S1 Ep2: Space opera galore, worldbuilding, and character development with Stephen Graham King

You can listen to this episode by clicking the embedded Spotify widget, or you can stream the podcast from  Anchor.fmApple PodcastsSpotifyPocket CastsRadio Public, and Google Podcasts. You can also watch it (with CC) on my YouTube Channel! (Click the bell on my YouTube channel to be notified when new episodes are published!)

(Please scroll down to read the transcript for this episode.)

If you enjoyed this episode, please consider sharing and giving a positive rating!


ID: Cait and Stephen Graham King on Zoom during the recording of this podcast episode.

Intro: Hi and welcome to In the ’Cosm. I’m your host, Canadian speculative fiction author Cait Gordon. I’ve started this podcast so I can chat with authors and other creatives I simply fangirl over. I hope you enjoy diving into my microcosm and feel inspired to seek out the works of these amazing humans.

Cait Gordon: Hi, I’m Cait Gordon, and today, I’m thrilled to be chatting with Canadian speculative fiction author, painter, and photographer, Stephen Graham King. Stephen is the author of the nonfiction work, Just Breathe: My Journey Through Cancer and Back, and the space opera series, The Maverick Heart Cycle, which began with Soul’s Blood, then Gatecrasher, and A Congress of Ships. The latest in the series, Ghost Light Burn, will be published later this year by Renaissance press. He is also a contributing blogger on the Spoonie Authors Network, and has appeared in world-building panels at Can*Con, and RenVCon. Welcome, Stephen!

Stephen Graham King: Hello! It’s so nice to be here.

Cait Gordon: It’s lovely to have you here, and thank you for agreeing to do this. I am a fangirl of yours.

Stephen Graham King: [Laughs] I will take that—happily!

Cait Gordon: So, it’s great to have you in my ’Cosm, and for people in the audience, Stephen and I chat regularly. We have a mutual fondness of space opera and probably also drag queens, but for the purpose of this podcast, we’re going to focus on space opera and Stephen, what about space opera as a genre really appeals to you?

Stephen Graham King: Well, it’s interesting, I realized fairly recently that one of my earliest memories is being three years old and sitting on the living room floor with my two closest sisters in age and watching first-run Star Trek, and then later on, when it came on afternoon syndication, it was on right when I got home from school, so I would watch it every day. And I think space opera, for me, hits this this perfect sweet spot. Because I developed very early this fondness for just the trappings of it, like spaceships and lasers and aliens and different planets and different cultures. I loved all of that. But I find space opera has… has some… adventure to it, and it has this sort of like, grand sweeping kind of feel to it, if it’s done right. And while I love hard science fiction, I’ve also found that sometimes hard science fiction loses track of character and subtleties of world, and it’s focused so much on the details of the science, which can be fascinating, but I find that space opera when done right will give you an insight into who the people are and what is going on in this big sweeping adventure. And I and I like that sort of unapologetic heroism about it. That it’s, it’s aspirational, I think, in that it’s people who, for whatever reason, are seeking to do the right thing.

Cait Gordon: Yes, exactly. Yeah.

Stephen Graham King: Yeah. So I think that’s kind of the sort of the trappings, the humanity, the adventure of it, and that sort of positive, hopeful, forward-looking type of thing that isn’t so concerned with its being rooted in science that it can lose track of all of those grander bigger themes.

Cait Gordon: And you know, it’s interesting because this leads beautifully into my next question. So, as you know, I’m a massive fan of the Maverick Heart Cycle. And there’s actually not many authors that I follow their work, like I just can’t wait to the next book comes out, so it’s a very big compliment to you that I’m always waiting for the next Maverick Heart Cycle to come out. So, yes, I started with Soul’s Blood, and I was hooked. I’ve always felt that your proficiency at worldbuilding is the thing that hit me really hard about your work. I’m blown away by—your books aren’t merely technical manuals, even though you do think a lot about the technologies. In Soul’s Blood, you had this organic society versus this techno wonder world, but you also crafted characters that we all relate to. And I, you know, you kind of touched upon this, and I just wanted to ask again is crafting the personalities just as important to you as the technology and the other aspects of worldbuilding.

Stephen Graham King: Very much so. Writing for me has always been distilled down to three things: who are they, what happens to them, and how does it affect them? And those three things sort of—worldbuilding is kind of in each of those steps because it’s about who they are, it is about the world they inhabit, and how it affects them and how it shapes their lives, but it’s also about the things that happen to them. And it’s also about the culture that they’re in, and how they react, so there’s this sort of sense of, like you said, that I want the people to be relatable. I want them to be at least somewhat aspirational because they always very much reflect my desire to be able to do all of those adventurous things and and sweep in and and write the wrongs. Whether it’s, you know, you’re on the left side of the law or not, you’re doing what’s right. So there’s that sense of the—you can write something that is interesting in terms of the story, but I think you have to, if not always like the characters, you have to understand them. [Cait makes sound of agreement] You have to get a feel for why they’re doing what they’re doing, what is going on with them, what it means to them to do the things that they’re doing in the book, to take the action in these situations, and to work at that in terms of the world is great, but worlds affect the people that are in them.

Cait Gordon: Right.

Stephen Graham King: And the people that are in them affect the world around them. So, so it’s really important I think to acknowledge that worldbuilding isn’t just “the buildings are really tall,” that it’s about, you know, what are the social mores, what are the cultures, what are the people, how do they feel, do they have hobbies, do they do they screw things up, do they make smartass remarks, are they really quiet, or you know. So it’s important I think to build your world into the characters as much as you build the characters into the world.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, exactly. And you know, something else I want people to really know about your works is that you have LGBTQIA representation in your works. But you do something a little unique with this representation than I’ve seen in—well, even in my own works. Like for you, acceptance is the norm. Can you just talk about that a little bit?

Stephen Graham King: Yeah, see, way back in the dawn of time when the very first version of Soul’s Blood was written, it was very much a feeling of not having seen queer people in science fiction, and that sensation of, “Well, we get to go to the future, too!” So, it was an intentional thing to to write that, and I think somewhere along the line… Well, you know what happened? I sent a copy of a very early draft to a science fiction writer in Edmonton named Candas Jane Dorsey, and she was kind enough to give me some feedback and take me up for lunch when I was in the city, and one of her notes was that in that early draft, one of the characters fathers didn’t like the fact he was gay, and she just looked at me and said, “Really?” [Cait laughs] “Really? You know, “We’ve traveled to the stars, and we haven’t left that behind?” And that was a turning point because from then on, I made it a conscious choice and built it into the foundation of the series that queer is never the problem.

Cait Gordon: Yes.

Stephen Graham King: People can be greedy, they can be violent, they can be short-sighted. But the prejudice is just not there. And that’s partially influenced by a film that I saw called Big Eden, which is this delightful queer indie film from the year 2000, and it’s about a man, a queer man who’s been living in New York, going back to his hometown in Montana. This little tiny town—

Cait Gordon: Okay!

Stephen Graham King: And the director and writer said, we are going to go at this as if that is not the issue, AIDS is not an issue, homophobia is not an issue, that is not the problem. The conflict comes from the characters and their personality traits and their flaws and all of that, but nothing… it’s not an issue in terms of queerness, and that was something that I kind of took on board, and made that choice that that was never going to be where the conflict stemmed from.

Cait Gordon: That’s fantastic, and I’m sure there’s so many readers who appreciate that or who will appreciate that when they start reading after they listen to this podcast [Stephen laughs] and look this fella up! One more question that I want to ask you regarding worldbuilding. We were just talking before this started that I kind of accidentally roped you into a panel about accessibility and world building, and you’ve started to integrate that more into The Maverick Heart Cycle. I’m especially seeing disability representation even stronger in your upcoming Ghost Light Burn. So, again, is that something that you find is important to the narrative?

Stephen Graham King: It is, and like a lot of choices that I’ve made in the novels, sometimes they’re not the initial choice, but they are something that I realized afterwards. And with Ghost Light Burn what had happened was, I did something awful to a character in A Congress of Ships. And, you know, had a nice technological hand-wavy, you know, “Hey, we can fix this medically because our technology is so great.” And I wrote the first draft of Ghost Light Burn as if that was it. They fixed him medically, and he was fine. And it was one of those things that came to me later on and that sort of, as I as I was looking at it again, that there was an opportunity there, partially because I deal with some recurrent pain issues myself due to, you know, extensive surgeries, many years ago, that it would be more interesting if they saved him, and they gave him his limbs back, but that wasn’t perfect.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, yeah.

Stephen Graham King: That there was still some recurrence issues because that was kind of, it’s kind of an extension of what I’ve experienced myself in that I got my life, and I got my leg, but I still don’t—I’m still not perfect. There’s still, you know… the technology could do so much, but not everything. And I thought that was an interesting thing to get to go into, and and I will honestly say between knowing you, knowing other writers who work with disabilities who have written for the Spoonie Authors Network that I’ve learned from in terms of acknowledging the depth of my own disability. That was, like, “Ah, this is… yeah this is the way I could do it!” And another, the other thing that I was really happy with was, there was a character he was —he appeared in a couple of scenes. He wasn’t major, but there. I had been at a panel at Can*Con, and one of the panelists was Deaf and was talking about, you know, not seeing that represented and not seeing assistive technology. And, as I was writing I thought, “Wait a minute. There is this piece of technology that I’ve created that could be used in a certain way…”

Cait Gordon: Right!

Stephen Graham King: “…as an assistive device.” So, it made perfect sense to take this character, who otherwise was just a guy, and turn him into an opportunity to demonstrate that not only have these technologies advanced, they have advanced in terms of becoming assistive devices as well.

Cait Gordon: Yes, exactly. I mean here on Earth, we have people living their lives, using all kinds of accommodations, so why not have Spoonies innnn spaaaaace? [Laughs]

Stephen Graham King: Exactly!

Cait Gordon: Yeah.

Stephen Graham King: And that came—there’s a character in what is eventually going to be the next book, who uses powerchair. And so I spoke to someone who is a powerchair user and said, “Look, this is what I’m thinking of doing,” and got some feedback to go, “Okay yeah you’re right, the character is the character, not a disabled character, not a powerchair using character—the character is the character.” And their point in the story is to do—to fulfill their role in the resolution of the plot, not to be an example or anything like that.

Cait Gordon: Yes, exactly. Exactly. I always say if I inspire you, I really hope it’s just organically and not just because I’m a disabled person.

Stephen Graham King: Yes, exactly.

Cait Gordon: So, another thing: This is my official third question. I just like asking you questions in between because it’s fun [Stephen laughs]. But one thing that I think has kept me coming back to your Maverick Heart Cycle series is that the theme and the feel of each book is a little different, and Ghost Light Burn was actually a heist story, and I just wanted to know is that intentional? Do you want each book to kind of have its own type of feel, almost like a subgenre mashed with the space opera?

Stephen Graham King: Yeah, there’s, there’s a couple of things that—I mean I wrote Soul’s Blood and for the longest time, couldn’t find a home for it. And so, Gatecrasher came about as sort of a well, “If I can’t introduce the characters that way, I’ll introduce them this way.” And then there were different characters, and that was—so it became a different feel to that story. And then when I was writing A Congress of Ships, it was, yeah there is sort of a conscious thing that each story should have a different feel.

Cait Gordon: Yeah,

Stephen Graham King: I mean, it’s obviously the same kinds of things these, you know, group of characters get up to their necks in ridiculous trouble and have to save the day and be fantastic. [Cait laughs] But, but, so you always know you’re reading a Maverick Heart book, but you’re gonna get a slightly different experience. And I’ve always looked at it as as there’s some kind of hints in them that connects to our world.

Cait Gordon: Right.

Stephen Graham King: Because in Soul’s Blood, it was a very, very, very, very, very science fictional future version of something like the Middle East conflict where two cultures are so different, and have such strong rooted reasons to not trust each other and dislike each other that resolving the conflict is difficult. Then Gatecrasher was kind of about corporate greed. What an evil corporation would would do to maintain their position.

Cait Gordon: Right.

Stephen Graham King: And then, congress of ships became a bit about refugees, because that was around the time when that was such a concern, becoming such a big concern in so many countries around the world, were refugees. So there’s always this sort of thing that connects directly to the, to the real world, which I think is important. And another thing is, I kind of look at it as my own personal playground, that I can play in whatever trope I want to. If I want to do, if I want to do wormholes, great, I want to do alternate dimensions, great. If I want to do aliens, great. It’s this—often it’s a conscious decision of, “Okay. What am I going to play with now?” How can I bring this this very science fiction space opera trope into this series, in hopefully an interesting way that keeps a reader interested in in knowing more about the characters.

Cait Gordon: And what are the tropes that you love?

Stephen Graham King: Ohhhhh, oh so many. Found family is a big one for me. And that’s very significant in these books because that’s what they are. Yeah, I don’t know, I don’t honestly know how to answer that because there are so many, and I see things that I just think, “Oh, that would be cool. I want to, I want to play in that playground.” [Cait laughs.] So, the aliens, kind of, they came in, in a way that felt like, yeah, this is what I want to do and the alternate dimensions was because I really wanted to bring characters from a different story in, and connect them together. So there’s, there’s so many things like technology and the change that happens [Cait murmurs in agreement], and how people deal with relationships like everybody in these books has complicated relationships because I have always had complicated relationships.

Cait Gordon: [Laughs] A little bit of own-voice stuff there!

Stephen Graham King: [Laughs] Very much so. So, they tend to reflect something that is going on in my consciousness, and I find I tend to be kind of like a sponge… that things will just influence from wherever. One of the things that we’re talking about worldbuilding in, when I was writing Ghost Light Burn. Initially, it took place in an asteroid field.

Cait Gordon: Okay.

Stephen Graham King: An asteroid field.

Cait Gordon: Yeah.

Stephen Graham King: They needed rocks, they needed metal of an asteroid field. But I was watching an episode of Star Wars Rebels, and there was an episode that took place in a planet that was all shattered and coming apart. And that was like, there it is. That one image that they used as just a backdrop gave me this whole other interesting way to, to look at that and to talk, and to introduce nuances of, you know, some of the ethical considerations of breaking apart a planet and mining it, you know. So, it made everything that little bit richer, and so many things just come from some random place that I’m watching or reading or, you know, talking to another person, you’ll go, “Oh that’s, that’s, I gotta file that away,” because that’s something that can add an interesting layer underneath it at some point.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, exactly. And it’s funny you mentioned Star Wars Rebels, which you totally hooked me into like so bad [Stephen laughs] that I had to make my own Sabine doll [he laughs again]. I mean I took a lot to make that thing [he laughs again] during a pandemic with my crafts—whatever I had [they both laugh]. So, let’s just geek out a little bit. Tell me the different kinds of series and books that you’d like, that, you know, that you have—I mean, I know you love Rebels. What other things do you like?

Stephen Graham King: I am… I’m a diehard Star Trek and Star Wars fan. To varying degrees, there have always been, you know, incarnations that I’ve liked more or less, and thought have been more or less successful. But series, oh so many, like if it’s, if it’s science fiction, I will probably give it a chance.

Cait Gordon: Yeah.

Stephen Graham King: So, going back to when I was a kid, all of the Gerry Anderson things like UFO and Space 1999 and Thunderbirds, all of that. Um, Buck Rogers, Battlestar Galactica. If it was there, I would watch it and the newer stuff I found has been excellent, so things like Firefly and The Expanse and Killjoys. There’s been so much that is this sort of new kind of storytelling, and I’ve seen the change from things like Star Trek Next Generation which was very much, “This is an episode. When the episode is over, it’s forgotten,” to, you know, Babylon 5 and Deep Space Nine, which were serialized storytelling and things kept going. And then you get numerous series in the 2000s, where the pieces all sort of build on top of each other, and every episode connects in some way and so you get individual stories that also add up to something bigger. [Cait makes sound of agreement] Book-wise, I had—I was making a list. [Laughter] I love… recently the things I’ve loved the most have been the Becky Chambers. I’m so excited, there’s a new one coming in February. Her Wayfarers series is, is fantastic. Tim Pratt’s Axiom trilogy was great. And again, queer characters, super queer-positive universe, found family—

Cait Gordon: Nice.

Stephen Graham King: All of the things that that I really really like. Alex White’s Salvagers trilogy; I’ve read two of those, really enjoyed them. Again, found family, adventurous crew of a starship off doing cool things. Murderbot diaries by Martha Wells.

Cait Gordon: I have to read that.

Stephen Graham King: Oh they’re amazing.

Cait Gordon: I have to read that!

Stephen Graham King: It’s—the character is basically a cyborg that is a security drone. But at some point, it figures out how to hack its own programming [Cait laughs]. Basically it likes watching TV [Cait cracks up]. It just wants to be able to watch more TV and be left alone, do the job. And so it becomes autonomous and becomes self-aware and keeps getting in these adventures but it’s almost… You can almost kind of read it a bit like, like that, like it’s on the spectrum because it kind of doesn’t know how to deal with people and doesn’t really want to even though it kind of figures that it should help them because they’re in trouble but doesn’t really know how to relate to anything and doesn’t know how to deal with sarcasm or humor or affection or any of that stuff. So it’s, it’s interesting. And it’s funny because this character is so effortlessly  humorous. Because of this very specific perspective that it has.

Cait Gordon: I just feel like this robot and could be really good friends [laughs].

Stephen Graham King: You have to watch—the first like, four three or four are novellas, so they’re short and easy to get through.

Cait Gordon: Nice.

Stephen Graham King: And it’s only when you get to the later ones that there’s a full-length novel and I think that’s another one that’s coming—there’s a new one in February or March coming as well.

Cait Gordon: When I was interviewing Jameson Wolf, because I’ve had a hard time concentrating on reading because of the pandemic and “gestures at everything,” we were talking about how, like, novels are great, but short works are also great as well. And it sounds like even what you’re saying about this series, right? I mean are there, are there other shorter works novellas that you also like?

Stephen Graham King: I don’t tend to think about it. It just—it’s the work that attracts me, not necessarily the length. I have… reading has been one of the things that I’ve been using to cope with the last year I read a ton of things, because I still had the focus to do it.

Cait Gordon: Yeah .

Stephen Graham King: And I made the point of arranging so that I had time. So I set aside time in my day to do it. So yeah, there, I tend not to do shorter things. Novellas, yes. I’ve read a couple by Aliette de Bodard, like she’s French and Vietnamese, that’s her heritage. So that the world is very inflected with, you know, Asian cultural touchstones in this futuristic type of narrative, and they’re great. And the ones I have read have been novella length. So they’ve been shorter and really interesting because they are very specific in terms of, of how they’re written and what they’re written about.

Cait Gordon: I’m going to have to like, listen to this and write down the names of everything that you said [Stephen laughs], because it all sounds fascinating, you know, expand my world. I’m gonna just veer off because I can’t believe it but we’re heading closer to the finish line.

Stephen Graham King: I know!

Cait Gordon: It’s unbelievable! I want to go to another place. I want people to know that you’re an artist.

Stephen Graham King: Ah!

Cait Gordon: You paint—I’m looking at a painting behind your head. I loved your painting of the classic Wonder Woman. But one of the things that you were doing before the pandemic was your photography. You do a lot of black and white photography or, or photos that are predominantly grayscale but maybe with a hint of colour. And, um, what about photography appeals to you what why does that medium hit you?

Stephen Graham King: Well, it started one day when I realized that I was carrying around my phone in my pocket, which had a really amazing camera in it. And I think it was a couple of years ago, it was a winter day and it, we had fresh snow that morning as I was going to work. And I just I stopped and got off the street, got like a block or two early, and I was going by—there’s a park and a church, and there were all these things and it was just okay, click, click, click snapping things and I started doing that all the time, and eventually last year, I actually invested in an actual camera, and would take it out. What I like doing is street photography. So something—and what I like about it is the immediacy of it. That it’s not so much stop pose, arrange lighting, you know, it’s not that it’s very much see a thing, snap the thing. And so there’s this kind of sense of having to recognize it, having to recognize the composition and the lighting and the energy and the movement of people going around and recognizing it right away and just grabbing it. So it’s this combination of intention and accident.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, yeah.

Stephen Graham King: That I like and because it’s literally, you’ve created it in a second. In the time that it takes to click the shutter, you’ve created that. And so, when my attention span fails me that painting because you haven’t, you know, in my new apartment, there’s not really a place to do it all that well, and I don’t have the best light, so we got to figure all of these things and figure the colors and do all that other stuff that this kind of has been an artistic outlet that is very immediate and in the moment. So it’s just something that I can do to create and train myself.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, yeah.

Stephen Graham King: Train my eye to see things and see, like I said, street photography is all about, like, motion and movement and how are people moving through the world and where’s the fun coming from? It’s just getting that, that… telling this story in a in an instant.

Cait Gordon: Yes, that’s what I was going to ask you. Do you, even though it’s immediate, do you find it another form of storytelling?

Stephen Graham King: Very much so. Several people have said that my pictures always tell a story.

Cait Gordon: Mmhm!

Stephen Graham King: And, and that is, is accurate because it is that sort of moment in time?

Cait Gordon: Yeah.

Stephen Graham King: Because, you know, you see the tilt of someone’s head and how they’re walking. Is their head up, is their head down, are they looking at the sun, are they looking at the cars or they’re riding a bike. You know, are they standing in line outside the store waiting to get in? So there’s that instantaneous, there’s a thing right there in that moment that you can see. Or you can imagine that there’s a story going on. That person came from somewhere, and is going somewhere, but you’ve caught them just in that precise moment of the day.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, exactly.

Stephen Graham King: That’s an accidental kind of thing.

Cait Gordon: Very, very cool. I love your artwork. And I have to now go with my last question. Yeah, and this is one, this is a question I plan to ask everyone because it’s fun for me to learn these things as well and you’re my second victim [laughter]. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

Stephen Graham King: Okay. Um, well I kind of have—the one is that I set off airport metal detectors [Cait cracks up] all the time, because I have various metal bits in my body and sure enough, every time you go through it, it’s like, “Yeah, it’s okay. Go ahead. [spoken in a sighing, relenting manner]” And the other one is that I, many, many years ago, was in the Canadian premiere of the play, Noises Off.

Cait Gordon: Oh my!

Stephen Graham King:  Which was a Broadway farce, was in Broadway, on Broadway, it was in the West End, and when Canada did it, it was this theater in the town I was living in and I was lucky enough—it was like only professional theater credits. And it was an amazing experience. We managed [to put up] this incredibly complicated farce in something like two weeks.

Cait Gordon: Oh my gosh!

Stephen Graham King: Two or three weeks; it was super fast and super crazy and it was the best experience. So, so yeah, I set off metal detectors and I was in a Canadian premiere of a farce, so there you go.

Cait Gordon: Is it okay if I find both those things equally awesome? [Laughter]

Stephen Graham King: I’ll take it, I’ll take it!

Cait Gordon: Okay, well, that’s all the time we have for today. Thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate it.

Stephen Graham King: Thank you for inviting me. I had a wonderful time.

Cait Gordon: Excellent. It was great having you. Folks, you can learn more about all of Stephen’s work and where to connect with him on social media, by visiting his website,

Transcripts for In the ’Cosm are available at That’s C-A-I-T gordon dot com. Thanks for joining us. Take care, and stay safe.

(Transcribed by, edited for clarity by Cait Gordon)

ID: Greyscale headshot of Cait Gordon, closeup, wearing a black shirt

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.

ID: Mock cover image of Iris and the Crew Tear Space a New One. Text reads: Camp NaNoWriMo Day 30, Final word count: 12, 042

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 30: Why I Feel Like a Winner

So, my final word count was 12,042. It hasn’t changed since my last update, but do I ever have a good reason for that! (Coming up in my next post, so stay tuned!)

I had set a goal for 40,000 words, knowing it was really ambitious, but I wanted to prod myself a little. As with many creatives who are experiencing all the ups and downs that go with this pandemic, it was difficult for me to focus on writing this month, too.

But that’s so totally okay because I feel like a winner!


  • I wrote words! Those are 12,042 new words for my manuscript that weren’t there in March!
  • I got to know my characters. This is a different world from the ’Cosm series, but I’ve learned to love these characters! I’m very attached to them and hope I’ll write more books with them.
  • Our writing group came back online. The Inkonceivables is back, which is wonderful, and means they’ll influence me to keep writing. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to read and to listen to works in progress!
  • I went through a bad spell, but my writing community was there for me! Because of their encouragement, I feel ready to go with drafting the rest of the “episodes” of Iris and the Crew Tear Space a New One! (Read also: My Writing Community Rescued Me Once Again)

So, once more, I’m glad Camp NaNoWriMo came around this April. It served its purpose: getting me back to my keyboard. It also reignited my love for our writing group. I feel all set up to continue my new WIP, and that’s all I could ask for, really.


Take care and stay safe, folks.

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to pummel that curve!

She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. 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. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world.

CampNaNoWriMo Dashboard Results, Day 3: 7790/40,000 words

Won’t meet my Camp NaNoWriMo goal but will keeping writing!

Yeah, there’s no way I’ll make my 40K by April 30, 2020, but I’m really cool with that because I am still writing! Camp NaNoWriMo is motivating me to work on Iris and the Crew Tear Space a New One, and to date, I have four out of the 13 episodes drafted. Yay! (I wrote Episode 3 and 4 this month.)

I’ve just started Episode 5, but have no spoons to write tonight. We typically have a cleaning lady come twice a month, but because of COVID-19, I’m doing more around the house. Now, before you think, Boo-hoo, princess, we hire her for the same reason I use a rollator—my disability. Believe me, I am so grateful for her help, too. I’m a very tidy soul, but certain actions, like vacuuming and mopping floors, cleaning tubs, trigger a world of pain. (Husband person and I are splitting tasks, but I might take him up on his offer to do all the vacuuming.)

And so, I’m in a world of pain today. It’s just too difficult for me to concentrate enough to make my word quota.

That’s okay, though. I’m excited about this work and am having a total blast with the characters. I’ve even sketched them for the interior of the book!

Anyway, whatever words I write are words that weren’t in the WIP before. I need to be gentle on myself while being creative. Working on this first draft is a welcome distraction from *gestures at everything*.

Oh, and the writing group I belong to (The Inkonceivables) is back again—another motivator to keep the fire burning!

Thank goodness for alphabet arranging. It’s giving me life right now.

Take care and stay safe!

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to pummel that curve!

She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. 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. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world.