Category Archives: Special Needs in Strange Worlds

[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Alex Bledsoe on Creating The Firefly Witch

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Alex Bledsoe! – Sarah Chorn

Alex Bledsoe grew up in west Tennessee an hour north of Graceland (home of Elvis) and twenty minutes from Nutbush (birthplace of Tina Turner). He has been a reporter, editor, photographer and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. He now live in a Wisconsin town famous for trolls, write before six in the morning and try to teach his three kids to act like they’ve been to town before. If you want to keep up with Alex in real time, follow him on Twitter as @AlexBledsoe, on Facebook, and/or on Google+.


by Alex Bledsoe

When I first had the idea for Tanna Tully, the Firefly Witch, it was a totally different time.  I wrote a novel manuscript* in the late 80s/early 90s that established the character and her world, and that conception remained essentially unchanged going forward.  When I started writing short stories about her in the mid-90s and continuing through today, I saw it as a continuity with those original ideas.
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Special Needs in Strange Worlds: An Interview with Mercedes M. Yardley

Mercedes Murdock Yardley is a friend of mine. We talk frequently, and commiserate about health issues neither of us can control, just deal with as best as we can. She’s an up-and-coming author with several books under her belt, and more on the way. She’s creative, and passionate, and an absolute joy to talk to.

One of the things that always gets me about her writing, especially now that I know her on a personal level, is how certain aspects of her life fuel her books. Her books are dark and delicious, with a shocking (and quite refreshing) innocence, and an undertone of deep, profound loss, all of which is reflective of the life she has lived, and the challenges she faces daily.

I asked her if she’d be willing to open up with me about her life, her son with Williams Syndrome, and how it has all impacted her writing. This conversation is the result of that. Huge thanks to Mercedes for being willing to talk about these tender topics.

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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Jacey Bedford on Creating Daniel Lorient in EMPIRE OF DUST

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Jacey Bedford! – Sarah Chorn

Jacey Bedford is a British author who lives behind a keyboard in Pennine Yorkshire with her songwriter husband, Brian, and a long-haired black German Shepherd dog called Eska. She’s had short stories published on both sides of the Atlantic and her first novel, Empire of Dust was just released from DAW. You can learn more about her on her website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter (@jaceybedford) as well as on her Artisan page.

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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds – Anne Leonard on THE DANCERS OF ARUN by Elizabeth A. Lynn

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Anne Leonard! – Sarah Chorn

Anne Leonard has been writing fantasy and other fiction since she was fourteen and finally, after a career with as many detours as Odysseus, published her first novel, Moth and Spark, in February. She has a lot of letters after her name that are useful when trying to impress someone. She has worked in libraries, academia, and the legal field, and before becoming a full-time writer was a practicing attorney. She lives in Northern California with her husband, teenage son, and two black cats.

THE DANCERS OF ARUN by Elizabeth A. Lynn

by Anne Leonard
Most of the sci-fi and fantasy books that I read over and over as a teenager have long since vanished from my bookshelves. One set which has not, however, is a trilogy collectively called The Chronicles of Tornor, by Elizabeth A. Lynn. The first two books, Watchtower and The Dancers of Arun were published in 1979; the third, The Northern Girl, was published in 1980. All three of the paperbacks that I have are blurbed with a quotation from Joanna Russ, “An adventure story for humanists and feminists.”
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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds – R. Leigh Hennig on Coping with a Loved One’s Disability

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author/editor R. Leigh Hennig! – Sarah Chorn

R. Leigh Hennig recently moved with his wife and three young children from Rura Penthe, er, Rochester, NY to Seattle. Leigh works as a network engineer by day, and when he’s not working on Bastion Magazine in the night, he’s writing his own short stories as well. He’s also an avid soccer fanatic (center back for his Tuesday night team — a defensive rock, and about as fast as one as well) and is probably more dedicated to Arsenal than the Pope is to Jesus.

Coping with a Loved One’s Disability

by R. Leigh Hennig

It’s a cool, sunny fall afternoon in Seattle. I’m in my backyard enjoying a Founder’s Breakfast Stout, grilling burgers, while my children—five, six, and eight (the youngest is a girl)—run about and play. The youngest two are chasing each other through the grass blindly, their shirts pulled over their faces. They laugh and squeal and carry on like the wonderful lunatics that all five and six-year-old children are. I smile. Behind them labors my eight-year-old, trying to keep up. He wobbles awkwardly as he swings his arms far out to his sides, attempting to maintain his balance. His left foot turns in sharply while the other struggles to compensate, despite the corrective action of braces and seven surgeries. More are planned. I still smile, but it’s a burdened smile.
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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Erin Lindsey on Why Disabilities are Hard to Write

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Erin Lindsey! – Sarah Chorn

Erin Lindsey is on a quest to write the perfect summer vacation novel, with just the right blend of action, heartbreak, and triumph. The Bloodbound is her first effort. She lives and works in Bujumbura, Burundi, with her husband and a pair of half-domesticated cats.

Why Disabilities are Hard to Write

by Erin Lindsey

Disabilities make people uncomfortable.

Did you cringe just a little bit reading that sentence? I certainly cringed writing it. It’s not even true, strictly speaking. A more accurate version would be: Some disabilities make some people uncomfortable sometimes. But I’m making a point here, so indulge me.

It’s a very common, very human reaction to be just a little a bit on your heels in the presence of a disability. There are a lot of reasons for this, some understandable, others less so. For many, it’s the struggle to respond correctly, without any idea what that really means. Should you talk about it? Not talk about it? Ignore it entirely? What kind of reaction, if any, would be welcomed by the person with the disability? It’s nearly impossible to guess, and that can cause anxiety. In a certain way, I think the people who want most to respond correctly are the ones who work themselves into the tightest knots, because they’re so worried about inadvertently giving offense.

Why am I banging on about this? Because I think it goes a long way toward explaining why we don’t see more of disabilities in fiction, and especially in speculative fiction.

Writers like me are, quite simply, chicken.
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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Nalini Haynes on The 3 Ways People Deal with Disability

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Nalini Haynes! – Sarah Chorn

Nalini Haynes‘s first memory of reading was whining at her father who wanted her to read the same non-fiction book AGAIN (how many times can you read about logging trees without becoming bored, even aged four?). One day Nalini was tagging along and discovered a large hardcover book of poetry in a corner store; imagine her surprise when her father bought it for her! Her most-loved poem was ‘Triantiwontigongolope’ by C J Dennis, probably triggering a love of the fantastical.

Nalini’s earliest memory of SF was hiding behind her uncle’s chair terrified but unable to look away from the TV during Dr Who, aged about 3. By the time she was ten yeas old, her mother lent her adult SF books to stave off boredom. Nothing much has changed since then, except gaining a few kilos and a few wrinkles.

She hold three degrees including a Master of Social Science. Passionate about social justice issues, she has worked with disadvantaged people as a counsellor and educator. Nalini currently works her butt off for Dark Matter Zine, as well as studying Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT.

Nalini Haynes’s interviews, reviews and other writings can be found here. The ones she remembered to categorise, anyway.

The 3 Ways People Deal with Disability

by Nalini Haynes

Sarah invited me as a guest blogger, suggesting that I enlarge upon a comment I made as a response to another post. I’ve spent my mid-semester break thinking about writing my guest blog while life has been in the way of actually writing something. However, eventually I managed to put pen to paper, so to speak, and jotted a few thoughts down.
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Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Corinne Duyvis on Minding Your Metaphors

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Corinne Duyvis! – Sarah Chorn

A lifelong Amsterdammer, Corinne Duyvis spends her days writing speculative young adult and middle grade novels. She enjoys brutal martial arts and gets her geek on whenever possible. Otherbound, her YA fantasy debut, released from Amulet Books/ABRAMS in the summer of 2014. It’s received four starred reviews—Kirkus called it “original and compelling; a stunning debut,” while the Bulletin praised its “subtle, nuanced examinations of power dynamics and privilege.” She is a co-founder of Disability in Kidlit and team member of We Need Diverse Books. Find Corinne at her Twitter or Tumblr.

Mind Your Metaphors

by Corinne Duyvis
(content warnings: ableism, “mercy killing”)

I’m a co-founder of the website Disability in Kidlit as well as an author who regularly writes disabled characters; both my recently published fantasy novel Otherbound and my upcoming sci-fi novel On the Edge of Gone feature disabled protagonists. On top of that, I’m disabled myself. It’s pretty safe to say I’m a huge fan of disability representation. Specifically, I’m a fan of accurate, respectful, and textual disability representation.

However, when writing science fiction and fantasy, it doesn’t just stop at featuring textually disabled characters. Many SFF stories contain disability metaphors. These span a wide range—from purposeful to unintentional, from obvious to subtle, and from well-done to inadvertently offensive.
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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: J. Kathleen Cheney on Trying to Write Blind

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author J. Kathleen Cheney! – Sarah Chorn

J. Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. Her short fiction has been published in Jim Baen’s Universe, Writers of the Future, and Fantasy Magazine, among others, and her novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, The Golden City came out from Penguin in 2013. The sequel, The Seat of Magic debuted July 1. Her website can be found at

Trying to Write Blind

by J. Kathleen Cheney

One of the more irritating bits of critique I’ve ever received: “Have your POV character feel her way around her bedroom so we know she’s blind.”

Seriously? Is that what people think a blind person does in their own bedroom? Feel their way along the walls like they’re a character in an exaggerated 1920s movie? Or are they the ‘magical’ blind person who goes the other way, never steps a foot wrong, and never walks into the corner of a table?
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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Melanie R. Meadors on Coping With Special Needs in Urban Fantasy

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Melanie R. Meadors! – Sarah Chorn

A writer of speculative fiction and lover of geeky things, Melanie R. Meadors lives in central Massachusetts, in a one hundred-year-old house full of quirks and surprises. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on on more than one occasion. Her short fiction has been published in Circle Magazine, The Wheel, and Prick of the Spindle, and was a finalist in the Jim Baen Memorial Science Fiction Contest in 2014. For her day job she is the Publicity Coordinator at Ragnarok Publications as well as a freelance publicist. She’s also a contributor to

Coping With Special Needs in Urban Fantasy

by Melanie R. Meadors

A wizard who is the best paranormal detective in Chicago. A psychometrist who works at NYC’s Department of Extraordinary Affairs. The newest van driver for the St. Edward’s Parish coroner’s office who seems to just walk away from whatever accident she has.

Urban fantasy fans might recognize the above characters. I myself have gone on many adventures with them. But lately it’s occurred to me that these characters give me something more than just adventure. I see some of myself in them, and relate to them in ways that perhaps others might not.

No, I’m not magical (or AM I?). But if you look at the daily lives of these and other urban fantasy characters, you’ll see that their powers don’t come without a price. With urban fantasy, instead of having special needs in strange worlds, they have special powers in this world. And they have to still have to find ways to function in this world as normal people.

That sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?
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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Tina Connolly on Special Needs in the IRONSKIN Series

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Tina Connolly! – Sarah Chorn

Tina Connolly lives in Portland, Oregon with her family, in a house that came with a dragon in the basement and blackberry vines in the attic. Her stories have appeared all over, including in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Her debut fantasy novel IRONSKIN wasd released by Tor Books in 2012. The sequel COPPERHEAD was reelased in 2013. Her latest book is SILVERBLIND. She is a frequent reader for Podcastle, and narrates the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. In the summer she works as a face painter, which means a glitter-filled house is an occupational hazard. Her website is

Special Needs in the IRONSKIN Series

by Tina Connolly

This post is kind of a melange of issues as I thought through what had been important to me over the course of writing my trilogy. In the world of the Ironskin series, some people were hit by fey shrapnel in the Great War five years earlier-the ironskin. Each person hit by fey shrapnel has to deal with both the physical effects of the injury-grotesque scarring-and the mental effects-a sort of emotional curse. The ironskin must cover their scars with iron, or the curses will affect all those around them with rage, or fear, or depression, or…
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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Geoff Matthews on Special Education Needs and Reading

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Geoff Matthews! – Sarah Chorn

Geoff Matthews began reading in the cot. His mother, at her wit’s end with the constant noise and unceasing activity, would plop him down on the soft mattress with an encyclopaedia full of pictures then quietly slip from the room. His father, ever the pragmatist, declared, that they should, “throw the noisy bugger out of the window.” Happily this event never came to pass (or if it did Geoff bounced well). Growing up, he spent Sunday afternoons on the sofa watching westerns and Bond movies with the self-same parent who had once wished to defenestrate him. When not watching the six-gun heroes or spies being out-acted by their own eyebrows he devoured books like a hungry wolf in the dead of winter. Beginning with Patrick Moore and Arthur C. Clarke he soon moved on to Isaac Asimov. However, one wet afternoon in a book shop in his home town, not far from the standing stones of Avebury, he came across a book by David Eddings – and soon Sci-Fi gave way to Fantasy. Many years later, Geoff finally realised a dream and published his own fantasy novel, The Stone Road, in the hopes that other hungry wolves out there would find a hearty meal. You can follow him on twitter or visit his website.

Special Educational Needs and Reading

by Geoff Matthews

One of our greatest gifts, our greatest pleasures, our most powerful agent for change, and most dangerous of weapons is language. In particular, the structure, use and understanding of language. Words change the world more than guns, bombs and the machinations of war.
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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Kody Boye on The Power of Speech

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Kody Boye! – Sarah Chorn

Born and raised in Southeastern Idaho, Kody Boye began his writing career with the publication of his story “[A] Prom Queen’s Revenge” at the age of fourteen. Published nearly three-dozen times before going independent at eighteen, Boye has authored numerous works—including the short story collection Amorous Things, the novella “The Diary of Dakota Hammell,” the zombie novel Sunrise and the epic fantasy series The Brotherhood Saga. He is represented by Hannah Brown Gordon of the Foundry Literary + Media Agency.

The Power of Speech

by Kody Boye

It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase “all writers are crazy.” From the voices in our heads, to the long hours of isolation, the inner turmoil of perfection and the pressure of the industry, it’s some small wonder we’re not all locked up. We’re crazy, we may say, to expose ourselves to constant rejection. Nervous ticks are often seen as eccentricities and social anxieties coined as the result of long hours chained to a desk.

What many don’t know is that many of us suffer. Most just aren’t vocal about it.
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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Sarah Hendrix on Portraying Disability in Short Stories

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Sarah Hendrix! – Sarah Chorn

Sarah Hendrix spends a lot of time reveling in chaos. Not only does she crush a heaping slush pile but she manages several minion duties. She is a PR for Apocalypse Ink Productions. She loves the developmental stages of a project and likes weaving seemingly unrelated things into a beauteous whole. To complete her love of all things unorganized, she has 2 cats, 2 teenage boys and a fiancé and she makes wearable art with small beads. Her stories can be found in the Space Battles #6 from Flying Pen Press, the In Situ, and the FISH anthologies both from Dagan Books, “Ordinary Hero” from Lakeside Circus and “The Coin Whisperer” in Abyss and Apex. You can follow her on her blog, Twitter or Facebook.

Portraying Disability in Short Stories

by Sarah Hendrix

When I wrote the first few words of “The Coin Whisperer” I didn’t know much about the main character, Paul. All I knew is he was relating a story to me about a friend who could tap into the stories that resided in the change in her pocket. Overall, what I wrote was pretty bland so, like a lot of short stories that I start, I set it aside. It wasn’t until a year later that the story and Paul matured into something I felt had a chance at being published.

Although I love the story, I was very apprehensive while writing it. Paul first revealed he was transgender, which wasn’t an issue at all, but then he revealed something that made me pause-Paul was mute. While writing I wanted his disability to be an element of the story but knew that wasn’t the focus. I wanted to portray Paul as an individual who happens to be mute, and has to find a creative way to tell someone something very important.
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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Jaym Gates on Her Own Damn Game

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Jaym Gates! – Sarah Chorn

Jaym Gates is an editor, author, and communications specialist. She’s edited the anthologies War Stories, Broken Time Blues, and is working on Genius Loci. She is also the Communications Director for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. She is active in ensuring a safer, more respectful environment in SF. Follow her on Twitter as @JaymGates, or online at

My Own Damn Game

by Jaym Gates

My first Dungeons and Dragons game was with four industry veterans. Not just guys who had played for years, but guys who had actually developed the game. Nothing like being thrown in at the deep end.

Fortunately, the two running the game were merciful and gave me a chaos-oriented paladin. Our host had mead and scotch for us to bolster the usual snacks. It turned out to be handier than he’d perhaps planned. The Game Master (GM) began drinking heavily about two minutes into the game because one player wouldn’t stop punning, one had somehow ended up with a cross-dressing rogue, and I was being myself, which is just never good for anyone trying to run a serious game. We romped through the first half of the adventure, puns and lipstick flying, trying with all our might to break the GM.
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Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Corrina Lawson on Autism and Superpowers

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Corrina Lawson! – Sarah Chorn

Corrina Lawson likes to say she’s a writer, mom, geek, and superhero, though not necessary all four on the same day. Her fiction self is the author of the Amazon steampunk bestseller, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract, and the Phoenix Institute psychic superhero series. Her non-fiction identity is as the Content Director and co-founder of and co-author of GeekMom: Project, Tips and Adventures for Moms & Their 21st Century Families. She and her four kids have made an appearance together on the Take Me To Your Mother television show on NickMom.

Autism and Superpowers

by Corrina Lawson

Please don’t be the school, please don’t be the school.

It was the school.

When I first started writing my Phoenix Institute superhero series, I was well aware that the psychic abilities that my characters struggled with were stand-ins for issues that many struggle with in real life.

My telepath needs to shut out overly strong mental voices threatening to overwhelm her. My firestarter must control his fire and thus not be a danger to anyone. My self-healer is so used to going beyond endurance that he doesn’t know how to relax.

From a writing standpoint, it’s necessary. No character should be ultra-powerful and without flaws.

But from a personal standpoint, it’s so much more. The negative side effects of these powers are stand-ins for problems caused by autism, mood disorder and mental illness.

Why? Because I have kids who struggle with all those things.
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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Dave-Brendon de Burgh on The Deaf

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Dave-Brendon de Burgh! – Sarah Chorn

Dave de Burgh wanted to be an artist and speak French, but Fate saved him and pointed him in the direction of writing. He is a bookseller, so-parent to three wonderful Pekingese “kids,” reads Speculative Fiction voraciously, and is the luckiest guy in the world because he has a blonde, blue-eyed woman in his life who supports his need to write and be crazy.

He lives in Pretoria, South Africa, and when he’s not writing he’s probably secretly laughing at cognitively challenged bookstore-customers. He’s on Blogger, Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, and Instagram, and he’s also a paranormal investigator with Paranormal Research Investigators of Pretoria.

His debut novel, Betrayal’s Shadow, was published on the 25th of April by Fox and Raven Publishing.

The Deaf

by Dave-Brendon de Burgh

When Sarah asked me to write a guest post for this excellent column, I suffered about ten seconds of ‘What do I write about?’ After all, I’m one of the lucky people – I don’t have any ‘disabilities’ at all (except perhaps for not being able to do Math even if I was faced with a firing squad), and I work in retail, which means I don’t get much exposure to people living with disabilities – not as much as, say, someone working in a hospital or community center.

But then I remembered that I am, in fact, very close to people with disabilities, and that I have been for years. You see, my girlfriend works with the deaf – she’s a teacher at a school for the deaf, and she straddles both worlds. Before I met Leana I had only the most basic (and biased) knowledge of the deaf community.
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Special Needs in Strange Worlds Guest Post: Kameron Hurley on Invisibility and Assumptions – Finding Distance in Writing About Chronic Illness

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Kameron Hurley! – Sarah Chorn

Kameron Hurley is an award-winning author, advertising copywriter, and online scribe.  Hurley grew up in Washington State, and has lived in Fairbanks, Alaska; Durban, South Africa; and Chicago. She has degrees in historical studies from the University of Alaska and the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, specializing in the history of South African resistance movements. Her essay on the history of women in conflict We Have Always Fought is the first blog post to be nominated for and win a Hugo Award. It was also nominated for Best Non-Fiction work by the British Fantasy Society. This past weekend, she won a second Hugo award for Best Fan Writer.

Hurley is the author of God’s WarInfidel,  and Rapture, a science-fantasy noir series which earned her the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer and the Kitschy Award for Best Debut Novel. She has been a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Hugo Award, Nebula Award, the Locus Award and the BSFA Award for Best Novel. Additionally, her work has been included on the Tiptree Award Honor List. Hurley’s short fiction has appeared in magazines such as LightspeedEscapePod, and Strange Horizons, and anthologies such as The Lowest Heaven, The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women and Year’s Best SF. Her fiction has been translated into Romanian, Swedish, Spanish and Russian. She is also a graduate of Clarion West.

In addition to her writing, Hurley has been a Stollee guest lecturer at Buena Vista University and taught copywriting at the School of Advertising Art. Hurley currently lives in Ohio, where she’s cultivating an urban homestead. Her latest novel, The Mirror Empire, will be published by Angry Robot Books in August 2014.

On Invisibility and Assumptions: Finding Distance in Writing About Chronic Illness

by Kameron Hurley

I’ve been invisibly sick for eight years now, but have found it nearly impossible to talk about in fiction.
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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Chris Dolley on OCD and How to Write a Thriller When Your Protagonist Refuses To Leave His Room

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Chris Dolley! – Sarah Chorn

New York Times bestselling author, pioneer computer game designer and teenage freedom fighter. That was back in 1974 when Chris was tasked with publicising Plymouth’s Student Rag Week. Some people might have arranged an interview with the local newspaper. Chris invaded the country next door, created the Free Cornish Army and persuaded the UK media that Cornwall had risen up and declared independence. This was later written up in Punch. As he told journalists at the time, ‘it was only a small country and I did give it back.’

In 1981, he created Randomberry Games and wrote Necromancer, one of the first 3D first person perspective D&D computer games. Not to mention writing the most aggressive chess program ever seen and inventing the most dangerous game ever played — the Giant Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum Cliff Top Relay.

He writes SF, fantasy, mystery and humour. His novel, Resonance, was the first book to be chosen from Baen’s electronic slush pile.

Now he lives a self-sufficient lifestyle in deepest France with his wife and a frightening number of animals. They grow their own food and solve their own crimes. The latter out of necessity when Chris’s identity was stolen along with their life savings. Abandoned by the police forces of four countries who all insisted the crime originated in someone else’s jurisdiction, he had to solve the crime himself. Which he did, driving back and forth across the Pyrenees, tracking down bank accounts and faxes and interviewing bar staff. It was a mystery writer’s dream.

The resulting book, French Fried: one man’s move to France with too many animals and an identity thief, is now an international bestseller.

OCD and How to Write a Thriller When Your Protagonist Refuses To Leave His Room

by Chris Dolley

Do you have a ritual – a little superstition that you bring out now and then when you need that extra bit of help? Maybe you play a sport. Maybe you insist on being the last one to leave the dressing room before every match, or put your kit on in exactly the same order, or touch the ground and cross yourself before kick off, or touch both goalposts before attempting to save a penalty…

What if those rituals took over your life? Left you unable to pass a table without feeling compelled to align the cutlery. Forced you to catch the same train to work every morning, to stand in the same spot in the same carriage. To walk the same number of steps each day from the station to your place of work. Every week of your life mapped out to be a twin of the week before – the same meals, the same schedules. And the same terror the moment anything looked like disrupting your perfect, ordered life.

To be trapped in a world just so.
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[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Holly Kench on Labels and Boxes

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Holly Kench! – Sarah Chorn

Holly Kench is a writer and a feminist, with a classics degree and a fear of spiders. She lives in Tasmania, Australia, where a lack of sun provides ample opportunity for hiding indoors and writing off-kilter stories. Holly writes about her life as a stuffed olive on her blog Confessions of a Stuffed Olive and manages the website Visibility Fiction, promoting and publishing inclusive young adult fiction.

Boxes and Labels

by Holly Kench

I love young adult fiction. I love it for at least a million reasons, but one of those is that, as teenagers, the characters of young adult fiction are navigating identities and choosing (or being slotted into) certain definitions and labels. We’re always in this process as adults too, but as teenagers, the process is heightened and inescapable. It’s part of the reason being a teenager is so fraught with angst and terror and misunderstandings. But it also means that, as readers and writers of YA, we get a rare opportunity to explore certain identities as they develop.
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