Nothing Without Us Too follows the theme of Nothing Without Us (a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist), featuring more stories by authors who are disabled, d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing, Blind or visually impaired, neurodivergent, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness. The lived experiences of their protagonists are found across many demographics--such as race, culture, financial status, religion, gender, age, and/or sexual orientation. We want to present these stories because diversity is reality, and it belongs in literary and genre fiction.
So, whether we're being welcomed to Sensory Hell by hotel staff, witnessing a stare-down between a convenience store worker and an arrogant vampire, or unsure if our social media account is magic, these tales can teleport us elsewhere yet resonate deep within.
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!"
Excerpt: Nothing Without Us Too (edited by Cait Gordon & Talia Johnson)
A funny thing happened on the way to the last anthology...
People were asking when we planned to publish another one, just before Nothing Without Us was released. At that time, we were both exhausted from nine months of intensive work on that project, and our first thoughts were, "Can we haz a rest?"
But the notion never left our minds. Neither of us expected what was going to happen after Nothing Without Us went out into the world. First, we got a message from a billionty-times Prix Aurora Award winner and academic Derek Newman-Stille that they would include the anthology as part of their syllabus in a disabilities studies course they'd teach at Trent University. We were gobsmacked. Then in spring of 2020, Nothing Without Us was nominated for a Prix Aurora Award in the Best Related Work category. We might have made Scooby-Doo inquiry sounds at that; we can't recall.
And so, in early 2020, our pitch was accepted by Renaissance for a second anthology, to be released in 2022. This is the part, where looking back, we don't know whether to laugh or cry. The pandemic. The constant barrage of eugenics-based messages about how folks like us who are disabled or immunocompromised... only our lives were in danger. It had been made abundantly clear to many of us that we didn't matter to a whole lot of people. It wasn't new thinking, but it had gone next level. In the middle of this hellscape, should we have even thought about doing another anthology?
That would be yes. We felt more than ever it was important to boost the works of the creatives in our community.
And this time, we wanted to showcase authors who were not in the last collection. The point of these anthologies is to boost the works of authors who are disabled, d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing, Blind or visually impaired, neurodivergent, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness. One of the best things about these projects is discovering authors we might not have previously read!
We chose the word TOO in the title instead of the number two because it's such a mood right now. Kind of like, "Hey, remember us? Nothing without us, too, folks!" We also wanted to include representation that wasn't in the first anthology because these folks are part of our community as well. We feel both anthologies together offer many points of view and lived experiences, so for us, they are a set, a combined collection, if you will.
We hope you get as much out of Nothing Without Us Too as we did. We thank everyone who submitted to us, because creating art at a time like this is an act of resilience, advocacy, and resistance. We get it. We really do.