Gemsigns drops in America today! That is to say, today’s the day it can be found on the shelves of bookshops or dispatched to you from your preferred online retailer (and if you pre-ordered the ebook it’s probably already sitting on your reader as I write this). I am very excited, and slightly nervous; I went to university in the States and spent well over a decade there afterwards, moving between Massachusetts, California and Florida. There’s no doubt that those years have hugely informed who I am, how I think and what I write; and although the ®Evolution novels are set in my current home city of London, it was in America that I first began to grapple with the issues they address. So in a strange way it feels as though I am sending some of those lessons and questions back home; and hoping they will find as welcome a reception as I did, when it was my home.
If the last few weeks are anything to go by I shouldn’t worry; the reviews so far have been excellent. I’ve also been invited to contribute articles on various topics to a number of blogs and webzines. Here are the most recent.
Think about your own narrative. Whether or not you have kids, you’ll certainly remember being one. Didn’t you have constant interactions with the adults around you? Didn’t you think thoughts and have complex feelings and cause things to happen? Weren’t you a person then too?
How can an immersive media environment inform literature – both in terms of the stories we tell, and the ways in which those stories are told? … I’d read little if anything that I thought really tried to engage the potential of social and mass media, as both plot and narrative devices, within a traditional literary form.
… a lot of the standard tropes around disability that we see in fiction – that it befalls someone who has done wrong, and can therefore be understood as a punishment; or that with the loss of a sense such as sight a new ability such as clairvoyance is gained, suggesting some kind of fair exchange; or that the witch/wizard/wise scientist has a miracle cure up their sleeve; or that the disabled person is so patient and saintly they don’t actually mind either the disability or the slings and arrows they suffer because of it; or, worst of all, that said disability is the only thing of significance about them – are the coping mechanisms employed by those of able body and sound mind. They are a way of reducing people to symbols in order to codify our own fear; a way of reframing a complex reality into a simple narrative.
(I’ll be updating this post as more pieces go live later today and over the next few days; there’s a comprehensive list under Press + Posts above.)
8 May 2014 – UPDATE:
Evolution relies on the emergence of exceptions — no less when it comes to social change than to genetic mutation. The exceptions that become the rule over time are those that best respond to the environment in which they have arisen. And yet we are rarely more anxious than when we feel those boundaries start to shift, or more strident in demanding an uncomplicated moral framework within which to determine the way forward.
10 May 2014 – FURTHER UPDATE (or, it’s been a hell of a week and a new blog post is beyond me right now):
[The] metrics of humanity can prove tricky. What if that unconscious mental ideal happens to be constructed as a white person? Or a male person? Or a fit and healthy person whose physical capabilities fall within a statistically standard range? What does that imply for the perceived humanity of brown people, or female people, or people with different physiques and capabilities?