Author of "Sea, Swallow Me & Other Stories" (2008 Lambda Literary Finalist); "Skin Deep Magic" (2014 Lambda Literary Finalist); "Bereft" (2013 Bronze Moonbeam Award and 2014 Independent Publishers' Award) & "The Nectar of Nightmares."
When I was in high school, I wrote a story inspired by the work of the Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor. I was going through a Southern writers kick back then. The story was about the friendship between two women, one white, the other black in the deep South. The white woman became friends with the black woman because her out-of-wedlock pregnancy made her a pariah in her small town.
I submitted the story to the school literary magazine. I went to a small, mostly white Episcopalian high school in the DC suburbs that was moderately conservative. The vice principal rejected the story as being “immoral” (there was no sex in the story, it was just two women reminiscing, like a two person play).
The next year, the literary magazine published a story by a white girl about a homeless black woman who kills a man in a robbery and uses the money to feed her kid. The first line in that story, I’ll never forgot, had the would-be murderess’ child say, “Momma, I be huuuungry.” (Of course, the mother in the story presumably also “immoral” in the same way my piece was).
That was one of my first experiences with blatant bias and revealed how White Privilege works. A literary story by a black boy was “immoral” and “filthy because it alluded to illegitimacy;” a story by a white girl, full of violence and stereotypes (and poorly rendered African American English), however, was acceptable.
Thirty years later, we’re still centering white voices over people of colors’.
My post Harlem Renaissance fantasy story, “Black Winged Roses” is featured in the new edition of The Revelator Magazine, along side other authors and artists–Marly Youmans, Lavelle Porter, Ron Drummond, and Brian Francis Slattery and Ezra Pound (!!!!)
The second print anthology of the GlitterShip podcast is out. It includes my story, “Circus Boy Without a Safety Net.” I share the bill with authors Nicky Drayden, Matthew Bright, Cat Rambo and Bogi Takács among others.
Hugo and World Fantasy Award-winning editor, Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld Magazine), Independent Publishers Book Award winner, Craig L. Gidney, and three-time Colorado Book Award winning novelist, Carol Berg, are three of the pro facilitators slated for the inaugural year of the Norwescon Writers Workshop. More facilitators will be announced soon! The workshop will be held during Norwescon 42. Short stories and novel chapters are being accepted now for the Norwescon Writers Workshop. Please click here for guidelines and other information: Norwescon. The deadline is December 9, 2018!
First, some good things about Netflix’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL. I think that it was well-acted, particularly the matriarch Olivia (Carla Gugnino). I liked that they explored and expanded upon Theodora’s sexuality. The subtext, of dysfunctional relationships and mental illness, was spot on. However, I ultimately thought it was disrespectful to the source material.
The title raised certain expectations. Imagine if I wrote a tv series called WUTHERING HEIGHTS and it was about a modern couple dealing with infertility issues. And Cathy was a frustrated novelist writing a cheap romance novel called “Wuthering Heights.” And Emily herself was a character, who was a New Age doula. It would make as much sense as this adaptation. The heart of the novel is about Otherness. This was just a family drama with some supernatural elements that used the architecture of the novel–characters named Luke, Eleanor, Hugh and Theodora, a haunted mansion–and ignored the theme and mood.
I especially depised the portrayal of the writer, Stephen. He was supposed to be a hack writer who mined family trauma for filthy lucre. That’s not how writing—especially successful writing—works. If anything, Stephen should have been the one who believed in the ghosts, and the drug addict brother Luke should have been the one who was in denial. To write, you have to believe in that your words and your paper people are real. Finally, making one of the most chilling paragraphs ever written the start of the hack writer’s exploitative Ghost Adventures-styled book was a low point. (Side Bar: There was a character named Shirley; why couldn’t she have been the stand-in for Ms. Jackson?)
Finally, the nature of the haunting was wrong. The harried mother trope, at the center of the show, is played out, and subverts the meaning of the original novel, which centered non-traditional female characters (the misfit Eleanor, the bisexual artist Theodora).
If you’re going to tell a different story, why have the baggage of a well-known, classic novel? I actually think the series would have worked better with a separate title. (And if they got rid of that ridiculous writer subplot; Jackson was one of the best writers and to have a shout-out to her as bad writer was a terrible idea). The HILL HOUSE reminds me of how bad the LeGuin/Earthsea adaptations were—they took the plot and some of the ideas, and left behind the atmosphere and subtext.
I’m raising donations for SMYAL–the LGBTQ Youth Group in the Nation’s Capital. I attended Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL) back when I was first coming out, and can vouch from a consumer perspective the importance of the work for LGBTQ youth, who are an at-risk population. (In fact, a group like SMYAL makes an oblique appearance in my forthcoming novel!)
Here is some more information on the group:
SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders) supports and empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the Washington, DC, metropolitan region. Through youth leadership, SMYAL creates opportunities for LGBTQ youth to build self-confidence, develop critical life skills, and engage their peers and community through service and advocacy. Committed to social change, SMYAL builds, sustains, and advocates for programs, policies, and services that LGBTQ youth need as they grow into adulthood.
Stalker vs. Love Interest, the Capclave panel I was on was recorded for the Geek Girl podcast. Hear me, Alyssa Wong, A.C. Wise, and Jeanne Adams talk about Pepe Le Pew, Urkel, Edward the Vampire and Christian Grey.
What started out as a kid-lit movement, has emerged to be a discussion of representation in all the stories we consume. What does it mean for books, or other media, to be part of #ownvoice? How does the diversity of the creators influence the voice of the story?
Craig Laurance GidneyCrystal ConnorMaquel A. Jacob
Fri Nov 9 6:00:pm
Fri Nov 9 7:00:pm
Gender and Sexuality: The Divide
A discussion about the difference between gender and sexuality and why both need to be present on page. What does it take to be mindful of Queer readers when writing SFF with Queer characters?
Queer theory and how it can inform readings of fiction/literature from the Victorian era, such as Frankenstein and Sherlock Holmes.
Arwen SpicerCraig Laurance GidneyElinor GrayL.M. PierceMaquel A. Jacob
Sat Nov 10 3:00:pm
Sat Nov 10 4:00:pm
Why inclusion in Media Matters
Inclusion for media, whether it is television, film or social media, has been a major topic for some time. It seems to be getting more confusing and frustrating. Panelist will discuss current examples with the strides we have made and far we need to go.
Craig Laurance GidneyJudith R. ConlySteven Barnes
Sat Nov 10 6:00:pm
Sat Nov 10 7:00:pm
Backlash of Afrofuturism
With the growing popularity of Afrofuturism, assumptions for POC writers has emerged. Does this invalidate their story telling? Is it fair to call them traitors to their culture and ethnicity?
Craig Laurance GidneyFrog JonesMaquel A. JacobTristan J. Tarwater
Friday 6:00 pm: Reimagining the Fairy Tale (Ends at: 6:55 pm) Jackson Panelist:Sarah Avery, Craig L. Gidney (M), Michelle D. Sonnier
Who doesn’t love a fairy tale retelling? Part of the universal appeal of fairy tales is that they were never a static form, at least not as an oral tradition. Re-tellers have used these archetypes and modes to spin new variations ever since these stories first came to the page. Angela Carter once said that “Ours is a highly individualized culture, with a great faith in the work of art as a unique one-off…. But fairy tales are not like that, and nor are their makers.” We can find fresh insight into our own lives and connections through these age old tales. This panel will focus on a variety of approaches in reconstructing fairy tales with a modern bent, both in their favorite respins and in their own work.
Friday 7:00 pm: Taxonomy of Fantasy (Ends at: 7:55 pm) Truman Panelist:Craig L. Gidney, J. L. Gribble, Lawrence Watt-Evans
Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Dark Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Mythic Fantasy, etc. How many types of fantasy are there? Readers’ tastes evolve over time. Which types of fantasy are currently the most popular, which are becoming less popular, where is fantasy headed and why?
Friday 9:00 pm: If I Ran the Studio (Ends at: 9:55 pm) Washington Theater Panelist:Sarah Avery, Craig L. Gidney, Will McIntosh, Sherin Nicole (M)
What books and stories would you adapt to film? Live action or animated? Why do film studios insist on optioning novels when short form fiction is really the ideal length for being adapted to film? Which series or stand alone book that hasn’t been adapted for the big screen or television would you like to see made?
Sunday 10:00 am: 50 Years of The Last Unicorn (Ends at: 10:55 am) Jackson Panelist:Mary Fan, Craig L. Gidney (M), Yosef Lindell, Darrell Schweitzer
It’s been 50 years since Ballantine published Peter S. Beagle’s Th Last Unicorn. Panelists will discuss the book, what it meant to them and its enduring popularity.
Sunday 12:00 pm: Black Panther (Ends at: 12:55 pm) Washington Theater Panelist:Craig L. Gidney, John Edward Lawson, B. Sharise Moore, Irette Y. Patterson, K. Ceres Wright (M)
The impact of the movie and the comics. The movie was huge. Nnedi Okorafor has just announced she’s writing the new Shuri comic and Ta-Nahesi Coates has written for Black Panther as well. Panelists discuss the cultural significance of Black Panther.
Sunday 1:00 pm: Stories Lacking in Traditional Plot Structure (Ends at: 1:55 pm) Jackson Panelist:Wendy S. Delmater, Craig L. Gidney (M), David Stokes
How to approach stories with experimental structure or structures that don’t always follow traditional narrative storytelling such as travel guides, lists, stories via instruction manuals, slice of ice or mood pieces
Sunday 2:00 pm: Why Do We Like Being Scared (Ends at: 2:55 pm) Truman Panelist:Craig L. Gidney, Hildy Silverman (M), Michelle D. Sonnier, Kenesha Williams
Fear probably developed as a survival mechanism. We fear things that might hurt us. Yet many read horror, go to slasher films, ride roller coasters, and climb cliffs. Why? What does this say about us and our psyches?
Sunday 4:00 pm: Resistance is Never Futile (Ends at: 4:55 pm) Monroe Panelist:Tom Doyle (M), Aaron Emmel, Craig L. Gidney
What science fiction and fantasy can teach us about being advocates and activists in fraught times. What should the allegorical protest literature of our time look like?