Sunday, October 25, 2020

Will-o-the-Walmart

(I wrote this blog post months ago and totally forgot to publish it. Good job, past Jen.)

Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got till it's gone?

Yes, I'm quoting Big Yellow Taxi for a reason. It's because my story Will-o-the-Walmart has been published in Triangulation: Extinction.

My story takes place in a world without nature, although it isn't about that. And it features a sad little nature spirit alone in the world, although… it isn’t really about that, either.

It's about two queer girls trying desperately to fall back in love.

It's a metaphor. And like any good metaphor*, the narrator explicitly points out to you it is a metaphor.

*At least if you're me.

Fun facts about this story!

* it refers to Thomas Edison as He Who Must Not Be Named, and I totally forgot to edit that out when I submitted it but they liked it anyway

* because it is based on Big Yellow Taxi, I listened to that song for like three days in a row. And then my friend, who I joke about having a psychic connection with, told me he had had the song stuck in his head for days

* This is my second story in a Triangulation anthology. Seven Sisters is available in Dark Skies.

So come on. Follow that little light into the darkness, let it lead you on an adventure between the pages of Extinction.



Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Dragon of Ynys Author interview: Minerva Cerridwn

 Greetings, people of the Internet! Today I bring you an interview with Minerva Cerridwn, author of The Dragon Of Ynys, a queer fairytale for all ages recently republished by Atthis Arts.

The publisher and the author are both very dear to me; I've had the pleasure of being published by Atthis Arts twice, both times alongside Minerva! And I have edited and published Minerva's stories in both anthologies I've worked on. They are delightful people to work with.

I adore this book, and I am proud to have a beautiful paperback version on my shelf. Get your copy here!


And I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the author. So without further ado, here’s Minerva Cerridwn!

Hello Minerva! Glad to have you on my blog; you're one of my favorite writers I have worked with and I'm always excited to read your words.

In one or two sentences, how would you describe your book?

 

Hello, thank you so much for having me!

 

The Dragon of Ynys is a novella-length fairy tale for all ages,about a knight from a small village who sets out to find the missing baker. To complete this quest, he has to team up with the baker's wife and the local dragon, who is a compulsive thief.

 

This isn’t the first time The Dragon of Ynys has been released. I loved it the first time, but apparently it’s even better now. What can you tell me about the rewriting and rereleasing process?

 

The book first came out with Less Than Three Press in May 2018. Unfortunately, they closed business last year, and the rights were reverted to me in July 2019. By that point, there had been reviews explaining how The Dragon of Ynys was not completely the inclusive story I hoped I'd been writing. Too many ignorant phrases that I'd heard throughout my life on the topic of being trans, non-binary, or gender-non-conforming, had made their way into the dialogue about a trans child. That in itself was not necessarily a problem, but the fact that they went unchallenged in the story did not make it as safe a place for trans, NB and GNC readers as I'd intended. In hindsight, I don't have to look hard to find the reason why this happened. I'm genderqueer, but when I wrote the first draft of The Dragon of Ynys in 2017, I was still telling myself that the gender I'd been assigned at birth had to be "good enough". That it was easier not to deal with any of my feelings and issues around gender. I was using those same ignorant arguments against myself.

 

Facing that wasn't easy, but reading a long review that pointed out the story's issues definitely helped. So, before I looked for a new publisher, I decided to revise The Dragon of Ynys in order to give readersand myself!—better trans representation.

 

It took me until October 2019 to reach out to Atthis Arts. I'd worked with them for the anthology Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove and had noticed that E.D.E. Bell's perfectionism as an editor worked very well with my own. We both like to do a thorough job and poke at details that can make a world of difference in subtle ways. On top of that, Atthis Arts'statement on what they are looking for as a publishing house sounded as if it had been written specifically for The Dragon of YnysFrom the moment I realised that they were open to novella-length manuscripts, they were my dream option for this book. And I was lucky: they were interested!

 

The revisions I'd done on my own were very small compared to all the edit rounds that followed as I worked with E.D.E. Bell. I rewrote entire parts of the story: in fact, the epilogue of the 2020 edition is completely new. We also added an afterword in which I talk about the revision and why it feltnecessary. After that, we went through several extra rounds with beta readers and sensitivity readers. In the end, I finally felt reassured that this version really was what I had intended from the beginning: a story of acceptance, both of others and of yourself.

 

(And it's out in paperback now, as well as ebook! And it has the cutest interior design! And a cover by Ulla Thynell! I can't stop gushing about how beautiful everything looks.)

 

This is the obligatory "So what was your inspiration" question. So… what was your inspiration?

 

My starting point for The Dragon of Ynys was to ask myself what sort of story I would love to read at that moment. I originally wrote the story for a call for submissions that asked for novels and novellas about dragons and with queer characters, so it made sense to mto add even more elements that I would look for in a story myself. A light tone, humour, and classic fairy tale ingredients with a twist. I realised that if one of the main characters was a baker, I could get in some delicious baked goods. I based Snap and Sir Violet's dynamics on a dragon and a knight I'd come up with years ago, and inserted the strong message of acceptance I wished I'd heard when I was much younger. Mix well together and serve warm, and you have The Dragon of Ynys!

 



Your book is very queer. This isn't even a question. I'm just happy about it. Although if you have any comments about this… LOL

 

Hahaha, it is! Sir Violet, the main character, is aromantic and asexual like me. He's hired by a trans lesbian to find her wife. Among the minor characters you'll meet a trans six-year-old girl and a large bearded axe-bearer in a flowery dress. And a dragon. And a large group of spiders. I'm not entirely sure those have a concept of being queer, though. :P

 

If Violet and Snap lived in our modern world, what kind of music do you think they would each listen to?

 

Connecting anything truly "modern" with them would feel a little off within the fairy tale atmosphere that is their home, so if it's okay to answer with classical music, I think Sir Violet is a Vivaldi guy and Snap is into Händel.

Oh, but I realised how to make it into this century: Sir Violet's favourite soundtrack composer would be David Arnold, and Snap's is Howard Shore. Additional fun fact: I wrote the first draft of The Dragon of Ynys with the music from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit playing in the background.

 

Is there any other work of yours you want me to link to, or work by your friends?        

 

If you like fantasy with dragons and an asexual character, I definitely want to shout out to Havesskadi by Ava Kelly. And I've just finished reading the first part of Diamondsong by E.D.E. Bell and really enjoyed it.

 

For my own work, I've had four short stories published this year: "Stars from the Stars" in Space Opera Libretti"Memory Malfunction" in Community of Magic Pens"The Lost" in Neon Horror, and flash piece "The Emperor's New Helmet" in Innovation. All of them are sci-fi; "The Lost" is queer sci-fi horror.


The Dragon Of Ynys is available now in paperback and digital!

 



 

Minerva Cerridwen is a writer and pharmacist from Belgium. She enjoys baking, drawing, yoga, and learning languages.

Since 2013 she has been writing for Paranatellonta, a project combining photography and flash fiction. Her first published work was the queer fairy tale ‘Match Sticks’ in the Unburied Fables anthology (2016). Her short stories have also appeared in anthologiesLove & Bubbles (2018), Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove (2019), Gay Apparel (2019), Space Opera Libretti(2020), anCommunity of Magic Pens (2020)to name just the ones that feature Jennifer's work too.

For updates on her newest projects, visit her website or follow her on Twitter:

minervacerridwen.wordpress.com
twitter.com/minerva_cerr

 










Saturday, October 17, 2020

There's No Special Ed At Hogwarts

Oh yes, I write essays sometimes.

Sometimes, they're even good.


There's No Special Ed At Hogwarts, available free online at Breath & Shadow, is a very personal nonfiction piece about confronting systemic and internalized ableism.

It's also, indirectly and unconsciously, about recognizing and dealing with the realization that the things you love do not always love you back.

I love Harry Potter. I was obsessed with it during a very hard part of my life and it still gives me warm nostalgia feelings of comfort when I think about that world.

But that world is not accessible to disabled people, and young me didn't realize that wasn't okay. The world wasn't accessible, but that was just the way it was. It was my fault for needing it to be different. So why should fiction be any different?

Because it can. Because it should. Because it needs to.

If our fiction, if our worlds full of dragons and magic, can't be open to people regardless of who or what they are, what the hell kind of chance does our real world have?


I wrote this a couple years ago. I knew the author was problematic, but I wasn't really… part of the discourse so I wasn't aware of the extent.

If I was writing this now, I’d add something about trans people not being welcome at Hogwarts either, since JK Rowling has continuously revealed that she is anti-trans and I am…

Well, to be honest. I don't super really know what I am. I’m not cisgender, which is the word for people who are comfortable in the gender they were assigned at birth. I'm definitely not a man. But not totally a woman either.

I've been using the word non-binary. I don't know if it's accurate, I don't really care what you call it. But I like the flag.

I just know that J. K. Rowling has another reason to hate me, but that doesn't mean I have another reason to hate myself.


Friday, October 16, 2020

The Unwelcome Destiny Of Virginia Monahan

I have TWO publications out today, both free to read at Breath And Shadow, an online magazine dedicated to the writings of disabled people. So I'm going to do two posts, one for my story and one for my essay.

First, my story, The Unwelcome Destiny Of Virginia Monahan, available here: https://www.abilitymaine.org/bs2020fall/%22the-unwelcome-destiny-of-virginia-monahan%22

(If you want to read my essay, as well, There's No Special Ed At Hogwarts, here is the link: https://www.abilitymaine.org/bs2020fall/%22there%E2%80%99s-no-special-ed-at-hogwarts%22)



"Gin had always seen the ripples."

That is the first line of The Unwelcome Destiny Of Virginia Monahan, and it is also the first line I wrote after escaping my abusive home.

I was in a nursing home, where I spent a month waiting to go to a group home. Typing was difficult, I was miserable, and there was just so much going on that I could barely think let alone write.

I got my first ever cell phone, and dictating made writing possible. Still not easy–it would be a while before I could effortlessly translate my thoughts into spoken word–but possible. And having a phone also made it possible for me to discover my own taste in music.

I've always listened to what my mom listens to. Mostly 80s and oldies. And I do love that music, but I was rebelling. I moved out on my own, started my life over. I was gonna listen to what I wanted to listen to.

… and it turns out my taste in music largely resembles that of my mom. But at least I tried to rebel, right?

My mom generally does not like music made past the 80s, but there is one modern band that we both love. Train. You know, the Drops of Jupiter people. I actually think that song was the first song I added to my Spotify playlist.

When I wasn't hanging out with my group of friends at the nursing home, I wandered the halls and played music. My mother’s music. My music. Because, no matter how much I tried to pretend otherwise, I am my mother's daughter.

But I could still rebel. I could sing.

My mother never told me I couldn't, but I never felt comfortable trying it until then. So I would go down the hallway, sunlight from the snowy courtyard streaming in through the giant windows, and I would sing Meet Virginia. And it felt good, it felt right. It felt like I was telling destiny that I might be my mother's daughter, but only I get to decide what that means.

The Unwelcome Destiny of Virginia Monahan is based on Meet Virginia, about a girl with magic intuition and tragic confidence. A girl who sees the future and doesn't like what she sees. A girl who drinks coffee at midnight while pulling her hair back as she screams because she doesn't want to be queen of the fairies.

"Gin had always seen the ripples" was written right before I went to sleep one night at the nursing home. I didn't know what the story would be about any more than I knew how my life would turn out, because unlike Virginia Monahan I can't see the future. But I did know one thing: I'm the only one in charge of my destiny.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Of Dragon Genes And Pretty Girls

 So all of humanity is on a spaceship and there's no dragons, right? No, this is nothing like Chen D’Angelo and the Chinese-Italian Dragon, published in Dragon Bike. This is a totally different story about a generation ship and needing to find a Chinese dragon.

Swear.

This is a story about genetics and destiny and the ultimate quest to find a cute nickname for your girlfriend.

A long, long time ago, 12 animals ran a race and the order that they placed determined the order of the Chinese zodiac, which some people believe determines everything from your personality to who you should marry.

But when you're in space for a long time, the calendar can get kind of… wonky. So humanity has decided to run a new race when they get to their new planet. But there's only one problem.

They don't exactly have a dragon.

So in order to hold the race (and maybe, possibly, influence the results so she and her girlfriend will be compatible?), the descendent of a long line of dragon riders will have to get creative if she's going to find a dragon…

Of Dragon Genes And Pretty Girls is available in paperback and e-book along with 15 other stories in Hear Me Roar!

I am extra excited about this book because The Other Jen, Jennifer Donohue, is in it! We both lived in my old hometown at the same time, and we have been in the same books multiple times.