You are invited to the eleventh #CripLit chat co-hosted by novelist Nicola Griffith and Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project®. For this Twitter chat we are delighted to be joined by Anne Finger. Nicola and Anne will talk about their new novels—both just published on Tuesday, May 15—which feature disabled protagonists. They will answer the guideline questions below, but may also ask each other questions, too. What we really hope is that you will ask Anne and Nicola plenty of questions, and perhaps add your own answers to some of the questions here. We want a good conversation about excellent fiction featuring disabled characters!
Anne Finger is an activist and writer who has long been prominent in the U.S. disability movement. The author of four volumes of fiction and two memoirs, she has served as president of the Society for Disability Studies, the president of Axis Dance Company, and written for Disability Studies Quarterly.
Finger’s first book, the 1988 story collection Basic Skills, contains several disability-themed works, two of them drawing on her childhood experiences of polio. Her 1990 memoir Past Due: A Story of Disability, Pregnancy, and Birth, integrates accounts of her early life, her social activism, and her experiences at the hands of the medical profession. Her 1994 novel Bone Truth tells a story of a woman considering motherhood and struggling to frame a narrative explaining her own life and her difficult parents. With 2006’s Elegy for a Disease: A Personal and Cultural History of Polio, Finger produced an anti-individualist memoir, one that integrates her own experiences and feelings into a wealth of social and historical contexts. The stories collected in her 2009 Call Me Ahab aspire to reveal the breadth of disability culture. Her new novel is A Woman, In Bed. (Cinco Puntas Press, 2018)
(Bio adapted from Josh Lukin’s introduction to his interview with Anne Finger in Wordgathering.)
Nicola Griffith is a native of Yorkshire, England, where she earned her beer money teaching women’s self-defense, fronting a band, and arm-wrestling in bars, before discovering writing and moving to the US.
After her 1993 diagnosis of multiple sclerosis she focused on writing. Her novels are Ammonite, Slow River, The Blue Place, Stay, Always, Hild, and her new one, So Lucky (MCD x FSG Originals, 2018). She is the co-editor of the BENDING THE LANDSCAPE series of original queer fiction. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in a variety of journals, including Nature, New Scientist, Los Angeles Review of Books, and LitHub. Her work has won, among others, the Washington State Book Award, the Tiptree, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, the Premio Italia, and Lambda Literary Award (six times), and is translated into 13 languages.
She has served as a Trustee of the Multiple Sclerosis Association and the Lambda Literary Foundation, is a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books, and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Journal of Historical Fictions, and the SF Gateway. She is now a dual US/UK citizen, holds a PhD from Anglia Ruskin University, and lives in Seattle with her wife, the writer Kelley Eskridge.
(Bio adapted from Nicola Griffith’s website.)
Book Review: A Woman in Bed, by Michael Northern, Wordgathering, March 2018.
Book Review: A Woman in Bed, Kirkus, Jan 3, 2018.
How Ableism Affects a Book Review, by Nicola Griffith, nicolagriffith.com, April 2, 2018
Saying Hello: Doing Disability My Way, by Carly Findlay, Feminist Writers Festival, April 24, 2018
I Built My Own Godd*mn Castle, by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Tor.com, July 31, 2017.
The Fries Test: On Disability Representation in Our Culture, by Kenny Fries, Medium, November 1, 2017.
How to Participate
When it’s time, search #CripLit on Twitter for the series of live tweets under the ‘Latest’ tab for the full conversation.
If you might be overwhelmed by the volume of tweets and only want to see the chat’s questions so you can respond to them, check @DisVisibility’s account. Each question will tweeted 6-8 minutes apart.
Check out this explanation of how to participate in a twitter chat by Ruti Regan: https://storify.com/RutiRegan/examplechat
Check out this captioned #ASL explanation of how to participate in a chat by @behearddc
Introductory Tweets and Questions for 5/19 Chat
Welcome to the #CripLit chat on New Fiction with Disabled Protagonists. This chat is co-hosted by @nicolaz & @disvisibility with guest host @Anne_Finger. Please remember to use the #CripLit hashtag when you tweet.
If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet should follow this format: “A1 [your message] #CripLit”
Q1 Please introduce yourselves and share your journey to becoming a writer. Why do you write? #CripLit
Q2 Tell us about your new works—would you label them disability fiction? Why/why not? And what did you hope to achieve? #CripLit
Q3 What were the joys/challenges (physical, emotional, mental/intellectual) of writing a novel with a disabled protagonist? #CripLit
Q4 Before the books were published, did you worry about how they would be received? What worried you? Did anything help? #CripLit
Q5 The books are published. How have they been received? And how do you feel about that? #CripLit
The Fries Test is a test for disability representation in fiction proposed by activist and writer Kenny Fries. To pass the Fries Test, a book-length work must have two or more disabled characters. For more: https://medium.com/@kennyfries/the-fries-test-on-disability-representation-in-our-culture-9d1bad72cc00 #CripLit
The Fries Test: Those characters must have their own narrative purpose other than the education or profit of a nondisabled character. Their disability must not be eradicated by death or a cure. #CripLit
Last year Nicola put out a call on social media for suggestions of books written for adults that pass the test. She made a list. There are only 52 books on the list. Check out the list here: https://nicolagriffith.com/fiction-that-passes-the-fries-test/ #CripLit
Q6 Why do you think so few novels pass the Fries Test? Do you think it’s harder to write and/or publish #CripLit fiction or nonfiction?
Q7 Do you see parallels between #CripLit narratives and those of other marginalised groups: queer, POC, working class, etc?
Q8 Do you have any advice for writers wanting to tell #CripLit stories?
Q9 Where should we look to discover new #CripLit fiction? How can we help each other write and publish more?
Thank you for joining our #CripLit chat. Please continue the conversation! A Wakelet will be up tomorrow. Check the #CripLit hashtag. Feel free to contact @DisVisibility @nicolaz with any ideas/feedback 😀