On Saturday, I had the pleasure of appearing on a panel at CAN-CON: Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts & Literature.
The panel was titled Spooning with Spoonies. Its subject matter dealt with sexuality and disability and how both are represented in fiction.
As a writer, I’ve recently begun to include people with visible or invisible disabilities into my work. I once thought that writing a blog would suffice, that my baring my soul here would be enough. A friend asked me a few years ago if I would ever consider putting a character with Multiple Sclerosis into one of my novels.
My reply was that this blog was enough. However, the more I read, the less I’m convinced that’s true. I have only read one book that featured a character with Multiple Sclerosis. That book was Journey of a Thousand Steps by Madona Skaff-Koren, a truly wonderful book that you should totally check out. Learn more about Journey of a Thousand Steps here: https://renaissancebookpress.com/tag/madona-skaff/
There are all sort of disabilities and diseases that are not represented in fiction or, if they are, they are usually the quirky best friend. Never the main character, never the love interest. Their stories are sidelined and sometimes used for comic relief.
As a sexual being and having both Multiple Sclerosis and Cerebral Palsy, a disease and disability that you can’t see, I knew that this wasn’t right. We deserved representation in literature, we warrant our time in the spotlight as the love interest or the hero.
When I was asked to speak on the Spooning with Spoonies panel at CAN-CON: Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts & Literature, I immediately said yes. The entire panel consisted of authors from the Spoonie Authors Network, a blog that I write for. You can find that blog here: https://spoonieauthorsnetwork.blog/
It was to be my first time at Can-Con as an author and my first time speaking publicly about having CP and MS. All the authors on the panel and on the Spoonie Authors Network live with some kind of disability or disease.
It was an honour to be sitting on a panel with such renowned authors and a privilege listening to the stories of what they live with. More than that, it was a pleasure to take questions from the audience who were genuinely interested in what we had to say and how they could improve their own writing.
I felt like we made a difference, that the people in that room left changed, if only a little, by what we had shared with them. More than that, it left me changed. When I write Love and Lemonade, the third book in my Lemonade Series, it will feature a character that lives with Multiple Sclerosis.
I am eternally thankful to Can-Con for giving us the space to have this kind of a conversation, for giving us the comfort and the safety of being completely open about who we are. I am also immensely grateful to Cait Gordon, first for asking me to be part of the Spoonie Authors Network and then for asking me to be part of the Spooning with Spoonies panel.
Hopefully we can change the world, one spoon at a time…