<![CDATA[NALO HOPKINSON, AUTHOR - A very occasional blog]]>Sat, 22 Jul 2017 19:57:03 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Time ladies (spoilers)]]>Fri, 21 Jul 2017 16:05:47 GMThttp://nalohopkinson.com/a-very-occasional-blog/time-ladies-spoilers
A few days ago came the wonderful news that the next Doctor on Doctor Who will finally be a woman. That's long overdue. And as predicted, a number of the fans are up in arms about it. It all got me curious enough to watch the final season of Peter Capaldi's tenure as the Doctor. (And by the way, I was stunned to read former Doctor Colin Baker saying that those fans who didn't like Capaldi in the role were upset because he isn't eye candy. He isn't? I mean, just look at the man. That's a fine-cut jib if I've ever seen one.)

Anyway. First delight I discovered in Capaldi's last season is his new companion, Bill Potts. An out Black dyke! Who knew? (Yeah, I know; everyone except me. I've been busy.) Then I began to notice something else. It's not just Bill; the show has generally become more relaxed about queerness. We see the Doctor talking about the Master as his man crush. And there's that hilarious interchange amongst Bill and a group of ancient Roman soldiers, where she explains to them that she only likes women, and one of them responds that it's so sweet and old-fashioned for her to be monosexual, not normal and bisexual like most of them are.

That season was also very clearly laying the way for a woman doctor. The Master complains that the future's going to be all women, and if I remember correctly, Missy, his own female iteration, tells him to get used to it.

And then I realized something else. I've only been watching the show since the 9th Doctor, played with suave by Christopher Eccleston. That was when the show finally started to have appeal for me. As I think back on all the episodes since, it came to me that the writers have been steadily populating the Whoniverse with Time Lord and Time Lordlike women who head out into the stars by themselves or with women companions, to change the universe(s) for better or worse. The Doctor's Daughter, for one. And River Song is sorta human, but for a while could regenerate. She can fly the TARDIS better than the Doctor can, and is his match in derring-do. Then there's Missy, the possibly even more twisted female reincarnation of the other Time Lord, the Master. Clara Oswald and Ashildr, who have their own TARDIS, disguised as an American diner. Bill Potts and her godlike girlfriend Heather. And, briefly, the tragically human Doctor Donna.

You know how they say that if you put a live lobster in a pot of cool water and warm it up slowly, the lobster doesn't realize it's being cooked until it's too late? Dear Doctor Who fans who are women-haters; the water's been heating up for some time. Dinner is served.
<![CDATA[Testing...is anybody out there?]]>Tue, 18 Jul 2017 19:16:41 GMThttp://nalohopkinson.com/a-very-occasional-blog/testingis-anybody-out-thereMy site hasn't been displaying properly for aeons, and I've been having a devil of a time trying to find out why. I finally gave up. Just checked the site again today, and it looks like it might be okay now. We'll see whether this note posts properly. The font looks awful tiny, but I see no button for changing its size. There should also be an image visible in this post; luminescent green bangle on a navy background. Fingers crossed.
<![CDATA[July 18th, 2017]]>Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:22:11 GMThttp://nalohopkinson.com/a-very-occasional-blog/july-18th-2017]]><![CDATA[Daughter of the rewrite of the revision of Blackheart Man]]>Thu, 18 May 2017 19:47:51 GMThttp://nalohopkinson.com/a-very-occasional-blog/daughter-of-the-rewrite-of-the-revision-of-blackheart-manMy agent got back to me with his feedback on the Blackheart Man manuscript. He had a lot of useful feedback, which will inform another rewrite of the novel so that I can make it submission-worthy.

But the most important thing? He says he likes it! I'm still floating on that news. Don is not one for mincing words. He knows that when he shops a manuscript around for me, his level of enthusiasm for it will probably help. So if he says he likes it, he does.

Now to find time to do the dang rewrite. I may have to wait until the summer. Spring quarter at UCR is kicking my behind. Not so much the teaching -- for once, I feel fairly well prepped for that. It's the other stuff. The committees, the events, the I-don't-know-what-all. This is the first time it's been this heavy a workload. Keeping up with it and bringing my friable focus to bear on it is not being easy on my mind or body.

...and now my website isn't working, and no-one can tell me why not. Sigh.
<![CDATA[Finally finished Blackheart Man]]>Sat, 21 Jan 2017 01:57:03 GMThttp://nalohopkinson.com/a-very-occasional-blog/finally-finished-blackheart-manI was on sabbatical in the fall -- my first ever -- with the intention of completing this novel that's been on my plate for the better part of a decade now.

Then life got very intense in a number of ways I won't go into here, but I was convinced I wouldn't be able to get to the end of Blackheart Man. But somehow, on December 30, 2016, I did.

I emailed it to my agent, treated myself to a movie (Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them), then realized as I was falling asleep at 1 a.m. that I'd forgotten to write one scene.  Turned on the laptop, wrote the scene, sent my agent the updated manuscript.

Now I wait. I haven't had a publisher since about 2013, so Blackheart Man was written entirely on spec.

Actually, I don't wait. Now I continue work on the next project. That's the script for Nancy Jack, the graphic novel for which John Jennings is my collaborator. (By the way, John and his collaborator Damian Duffy have just released the graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler's Kindred, and it's topped the New York Times Bestseller list in its category!

Did I mention that I finished a novel?
<![CDATA[To Anthology Editors]]>Mon, 09 Jan 2017 01:33:23 GMThttp://nalohopkinson.com/a-very-occasional-blog/to-anthology-editorsI originally published this on my previous website, either on January 5, 2015, or May 1, 2015 (numerical dates confuse me). I've edited it a little to repost it here:

On Twitter today, I said I would lay out my suggestions for how editors can go about creating anthologies that contain a diversity of voices. Here they are. I realize that some of the terms I use are overgeneralized and imperfect; diversity, non/marginalized, etc. Mea culpa.

So: The minute you start talking about bringing diversity to an anthology, you'll be besieged by stentorian voices damning the effort, claiming that it's going to negatively affect the quality of the work. It's bullshit, tantamount to saying that the only good writing comes from non-marginalized writers. Gathering a wide range of voices, styles, aesthetics, experiences and perspectives in an anthology is a recipe for a good anthology, not a bad one.

But here's where those voices have a point: if you wait till after you've put out your call for submissions to run around trying to fill in diversity slots for your anthology -- you know, the “one of each so long as there aren't too many of them” approach -- you will more likely than not end up with a dog's breakfast of a volume in which it's clear that you selected writers for their optics, not their writing. That's tokenism, not sound editorial practice. The time to be trying to make your anthology a diverse one is before submissions come in, not during or after.

On the other hand, if you just put your call for fiction out there and cross your fingers, you'll end up with mostly the usual suspects. It's not enough to simply open the door. Why? Because after centuries of exclusion and telling us we're not good enough, an unlocked door is doing jack shit to let us know that anything's changed. Most of us will continue to duck around it and keep moving, thank you very much. We'll go where we know there are more people like us, or where there are editors who get what we're doing.

So make up your mind that you're going to have to do a bit of work, some outreach. It's fun work, and the results are rewarding.

Make a list of names of writers from whom you'd like to see submissions. You probably know that your list needs to be way longer than the number of stories you can publish. Fitness clubs have been getting rich on this principle for decades; they sell far more memberships than their facilities can hold, because they know that at most, only about 20 percent of those who pay for memberships ever enter the building a second time. Your list should include the non- (or not as) marginalized writers, but make sure you have 2-5 times more marginalized writers. Because of all the current and historical barriers to our participation, it's going to take at least that many to get a representative sample of submissions.

Don't know the names of that many writers from traditionally marginalized communities? Don't stop at the well-known go-to names from those communities. By all means invite them. Just realize that inviting only them is another facet of tokenism. When you contact them, ask them to recommend other writers to you. Ask around. Ask readers, other writers, editors, listserves, educators, Twitter, Facebook. People will be happy to clue you in. Get contact information for the writers they name. While you're at it, ask them where you should be putting your call for submissions (if you're doing a public one) in order to have a better chance of it being seen by writers from a diversity of communities. Because if you only publicize it in the usual places, you'll only get -- say it with me -- the usual suspects.

Write your call for submissions. Put the payment terms up front, even if there's no payment. This is a good practice for inviting any kind of artist or freelancer to submit their work to you. Making art takes time, and especially when you're a freelancer, time is money, which pays for the roof over your head and the food on your table. Also, be explicit about wanting to see submissions from writers from a diversity of communities. I would go so far as to suggest you be explicit about which communities you mean. Now, a weird thing will sometimes happen when you do this; the minute you say that you want to hear from everybody, some (usually) straight, (usually) white writers will decide you're saying that you don't want stories from white people. To them, “inclusivity” means “We hate (straight) white people.” It's un-freaking-believable. I frankly don't go out of my way to reassure those folks. There'll be plenty straight, white writers who don't have that chip on their shoulders. There'll be another group of non/less-marginalized writers who will tell you they don't want to submit stories to you because they don't want to take up a slot that could go to someone whose voice mightn't otherwise be heard. Those people's hearts are in the right place, but the zero sum game is exactly the kind of thing you're trying to change. Remind those folks that you're the editor, and they should leave the editorial decisions up to you. Some of them may still wig out and opt out, but not all of them will.

Contact the writers on your list; marginalized writers first, non-marginalized writers next. Personally invite them to submit stories. I always like to remind everyone that an invitation to submit is an invitation to have their work considered, not a guarantee of publication. Writers who've been doing this in the mainstream forever will probably know that. Writers who haven't been part of the mainstream may not. If I'm doing a closed call, I ask the writers I'm inviting to let me know about any writers they think I may have missed. When I've done this, recommendations have sometimes netted me great submissions from writers I'd never have heard of otherwise (yes, white writers, too), or who wouldn't have thought to submit to the kind of anthology I edit. Everybody wins.

If you're doing an open call for submissions, post the call now, in all the expected places as well as the ones that have been recommended to you.

By the way: if you want stories from marginalized writers, invite them early. Hell, invite everyone early. But particularly the writers who will be more familiar with being tokenized. Can't tell you how many times I've received an invitation because an editor has decided last minute that they need to show willing. You can practically hear them hoping that I won't have the time to produce a story with only days/hours/seconds to the deadline, because then they can say, well, they did invite me, but you know how it is; for some reason, “those people” don't submit their stories, even though the door's wide open. N.K. Jemisin talks here about what that experience is like. Sometimes when we say we don't have the time, what we mean is, we see your tokenism, and we ain't your freaking diversity poster child.

Now wait for the submissions to come in. When they do, I try to ignore the names of the writers until after I've read all the stories, assessed them against the others, shaped the anthology, and made my decisions. This is the time when you can do that, not at the point where you're soliciting submissions.

Realize that even if you've done everything I suggest and you've done your best to be unbiased at the selection stage, you may still end up with an anthology that's not as balanced as you'd like. This is a blessedly inexact process. It won't have the same results every time. But in the aggregate, you should be able to see a positive trend.

Implied in all this is the possibility that you'll end up with an anthology in which "minority" writers predominate. The horror! If this bothers you, take comfort in the fact that all those readers who claim not to pay attention to the identities of authors won't even notice.

<![CDATA[My schedule for Nerdcon: Stories this weekend]]>Thu, 13 Oct 2016 00:47:10 GMThttp://nalohopkinson.com/a-very-occasional-blog/my-schedule-for-nerdcon-stories-this-weekendNerdcon is happening this weekend in Minneapolis, and there are still tickets available. If last year's Nerdcon is anything to go by, it's gonna be a blast.

Here's my schedule:

Juvenilia ​(​part of Friday Morning Variety Show)
Friday 09:34 AM - 09:49 AM, Auditorium
Participants: Cindy Pon, Nalo Hopkinson, Paul DeGeorge

Why Do I Feel Like the Rules Keep Changing? ​[Panel]
Friday 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM, Room 101 BC
Participants: Julián Gómez (Moderator), Daniel José Older, Nalo Hopkinson, Cindy Pon, Mikki Kendall

How to Write Straight Characters ​[Panel]
Friday 12:30 PM - 01:30 PM, Room 101 BC
Participants: Alyssa Wong(Moderator), Nalo Hopkinson, Blue Delliquanti, Amanda Neumann

Kaffeeklatsch - Nalo Hopkinson ​[Kaffeeklatsch]
Friday 05:00 PM - 06:00 PM, Room M100 E

Signing - Nalo Hopkinson ​[Signing]
Saturday 12:30 PM - 01:30 PM, Exhibit Hall B

A Whole New World ​[Panel]
Saturday 02:00 PM - 03:00 PM, Room 101 BC
Participants: Paolo Bacigalupi(Moderator), Nalo Hopkinson, Ben Acker, Daniel José Older, Katrina Ostrander, M.T. Anderson

Rapid Fire Q&A ​(​part of Saturday Afternoon Variety Show)
Saturday 03:34 PM - 03:49 PM, Auditorium
Participants: Chris Rathjen, Eileen Cook, Joe DeGeorge, Jonathan Ying, Karen Hallion, Kevin MacLeod, Nalo Hopkinson, Paolo Bacigalupi

1 on 1 Conversation ​(​part of Saturday Afternoon Variety Show)
Saturday 03:59 PM - 04:14 PM, Auditorium
Daniel José Older, Nalo Hopkinson

<![CDATA[I'm about to become Dr. Hopkinson!]]>Sat, 08 Oct 2016 03:12:19 GMThttp://nalohopkinson.com/a-very-occasional-blog/im-about-to-become-dr-hopkinsonI can finally make the news public; Anglia Ruskin University has offered me an honorary Doctor of Letters, and I've accepted. I'm flying there in a few days to graduate. I've known for ages, but they said I had to keep it secret until now.

<![CDATA[Happy Bi Visibility Day!]]>Fri, 23 Sep 2016 13:15:23 GMThttp://nalohopkinson.com/a-very-occasional-blog/happy-bi-visibility-dayPicture
<![CDATA[In honour of the 50th anniversary of Star Trek]]>Sat, 17 Sep 2016 20:12:42 GMThttp://nalohopkinson.com/a-very-occasional-blog/in-honour-of-the-50th-anniversary-of-star-trek1Picture
That's a photo of me dressed as Lt. Uhura at the very first science fiction convention I ever attended. I think the year was 1977 or 1978, which would put me around 18 years old. I remember trying to figure out what the hell to dress up as, since at the time, none of the commonly recognized characters or creatures in popular science fiction and fantasy reflected me or my culture. None that I could think of, anyway. Except Ororo Munroe and Lt. Uhura. This was half a decade before Tina Turner as Aunty Entity in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (and God, do I still ever want that chainmail dress!) Years before Grace Jones as Zula in Conan the Destroyer, May Day in the Bond movie A View to a Kill, and Katrina, the 2000 yr-old vampire in Vamp. It was about 22 years before the uncomfortable portrayal of Sineya, the first Slayer, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and 18 years before the equally uncomfortable portrayal of Kendra Young, the Jamaican? (What was that accent they gave the actress supposed to be, exactly?) Slayer. It was decades before Zoë Alleyne Washburne in Firefly and Serenity, and even Patience Phillips in the ill-fated Halle Berry version of Catwoman. Are you getting the word picture I'm painting here? I could have gone as a creature from Caribbean folklore, but I was almost certain to be the only one at GVSTAcon with any knowledge of Caribbean folklore, and I didn't want to have to explain what I was depicting.

I couldn't pull off cosplay as Storm. The cost of the haircut and hair-bleaching alone was way beyond my budget at the time, never mind the contact lenses. (Were contact lenses even a thing back then? I can't remember.) But Uhura? She was pretty close to perfect for what I wanted.

You can't tell in the picture, but I wore my hair straightened in those years, so that part of the look was covered. I sewed the costume myself, based on a book of Star Trek paraphernalia descriptions I saw in Toronto's Bakka Books. I remember scouring the fabric stories for cheap fabric with the right colour, weight and hand.

The costume is fairly accurate, except I couldn't bring myself to make the bloomers they supposedly wore under those skimpy dresses. So I made the dress a tad bit longer and wore regular tights.

Nichelle Nichols, you were there when I needed you, and not just in terms of taking part in a costume parade. Because you were and are visible where you are visible, you make it possible for other Black women to be seen, too. Thank you.