"Can you recommend fiction that has main characters who are like us?" This is a question we who are disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness ask way too often. Typically, we're faced with stories about us crafted by people who really don't get us. We're turned into pathetic, tragic souls; we merely exist to inspire the abled main characters to thrive; or even worse, we're to overcome "what's wrong with us" and be cured.
Nothing Without Us combines both realistic and speculative fiction, starring protagonists who are written "by us and for us." From hospital halls to jungle villages, from within the fantastical plane to deep into outer space, our heroes take us on a journey, make us think, and prompt us to cheer them on.
These are bold tales, told in our voices, which are important for everyone to experience.
With stories by Myriad Augustine, Carolyn Charron, Joanna Marsh, Elliott Dunstan, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Raymond Luczak, Nicole Zelniker, Dorothy Ellen Palmer, Jamieson Wolf, J. Ivanel Johnson, Tom Johnson, Tonya Liburd, Shannon Barnsley, Madona Skaff, Maverick Smith, George Zancola, Diane Koerner, Laurie Stewart, Tasha Fierce, Nathan Frechette, Emily Gillespie, and Derek Newman-Stille.
About the authors
Cait (pronounced like 'cat') Gordon is a Canadian disability advocate who writes speculative fiction that celebrates the reality of diversity. Originally from Verdun, Québec, Cait worked for over two decades as a technical writer, then channelled her love for words into storytelling.
Her short stories appear in Alice Unbound Beyond Wonderland (Ed. Colleen Anderson), We Shall Be Monsters (Ed. Derek Newman-Stille), and Stargazers: Microtales from the Cosmos (Eds. Jarvey and MacNab). The Hilltop Gathering from We Shall Be Monsters features a disabled protagonist and was discussed at a symposium about Frankenstein at Carleton University.
In 2016, Cait founded the Spoonie Authors Network to connect with writers in the disability community. Her desire to find better disabled and autistic representation in fiction prompted Cait to co-edit Nothing Without Us with Talia C. Johnson. The multi-genre anthology features authors and protagonists who are disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, and/or who manage mental illness.
Nothing Without Us was included in the syllabus of a disability studies course at Trent University and earned a 2020 Prix Aurora Award nomination.
Even though her own works deal with issues about identity and human/alien/monster rights, Cait has always felt humour is an important part of world-building. "Without humour, it doesn't feel realistic."
Cait is also a musician and singer who has been living in Ottawa with her guitarist husband, author Bruce Gordon, since 1998. She's friendly, somewhat feisty, and really loves cake.
Talia C. Johnson is a Jewish ritual and service leader, writer, poet, sensitivity editor, public speaker, workshop facilitator, educator, mentor, coach, and activist. She is a woman who is, in no particular order, an out queer autistic lesbian trans woman. Talia is Chair of the Heartspark Press Board of Directors, part of the leadership team of Autistics for Autistics Ontario, and is active in two Jewish communities in Toronto, Matanot Lev and Danforth Jewish Circle.
She is co-editor of the Nothing Without Us anthology of Disability fiction.
Talia had studied with the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute and was ordained as a Kohenet Hebrew Priestess planned in the summer of 2019. Her work in these areas bridges mental health, spirituality, and LGBTQIA+/queer/trans spaces, areas which are usually independent silos. Talia is pursuing a graduate degree in Jewish Studies with a focus on Judaism, queer/trans/LGBTQIA, and mental health. She has been an activist in various ways for most of her life. Her first words were, apparently, "That's not fair!"
- Nominated, Prix Aurora Awards
"There's something for everyone in these twenty-two stories, which range the gamut from satirical to thrilling and suspenseful. The anthology has a deep contributor pool, which spreads out the writing styles."- Robert Kingett, NewcityLit
"I think this is an important and significant book. You won't forget what you've read when you put it down. This anthology deserves an Aurora Award, in my opinion. It's that good." - R. Graeme Cameron, Amazing Stories magazine
"A month after I read the collection, the story elements that still linger with me describe certain social and physical experiences of Othering, and aspects of defiant identity formation, that will resonate with many, disabled or not."- Cherie Pyne, Montreal Review of Books