I’m thinking a lot lately about going back to writing fiction.
My big writing project lately has been a new memoir, Erika to Earth, where I talk about my life since the publication of my first book Born on the Wrong Planet, as well as exploring in depth some issues that I regret ignoring or portraying simplistically in my first book (which I wrote as a college student with limited experience and a somewhat idealistic worldview).
Similarly, I want to write fiction that portrays humanity with more of its true complexity than the first fictional book I published, Kea’s Flight. When John and I collaborated on that novel, I still believe we did something good in telling the story of some strong and intelligent autistic characters like ourselves, but there are still aspects of it that I regret.
I’ve been working on a sequel, bit by bit, and as time goes on, I’m becoming more and more aware of how important it is for the sequel to be more inclusive.
I want to show a wider range of the disabled people that were mentioned living on the ship. The first book never went into their lives, and I regret that. I want to show those with more severe impairments, those who can’t speak vocally, those whose intelligence was never recognized, those with low intelligence. I want to show Kea interacting with them, listening to them, taking their ideas into consideration. I want to see her learn to respect them, as I have.
I want to show non-disabled people who are more in-depth characters than Brandon from the first book. Life is not just autistic heroes versus allistic villains. I want to show interaction between autistic and non-autistic people as the complex, nuanced, sometimes enlightening, sometimes painful reality that it is.
“Kea’s Flight” included a lesbian, a bisexual and an asexual, all female. I want to show more of the LGBTQ spectrum. I want to show gay and bi men, and maybe some trans characters. I want to make them complex characters and show more scenes from their viewpoints. There were also a few characters in “Kea’s Flight” who were apparently Hispanic (though the setting is such that people’s ethnic heritage is difficult to know). I want to show a wider range of people of color. I want to paint humanity as it really looks, in all its intricate detail, showing all the colors and shapes and fascinating twists.
I know I’ll get things wrong, and I’m prepared to accept criticism. I hope to build my skill at accurately depicting all aspects of the world and its people.
I’m a growing and changing person, and, I think, so is Kea. When John and I created her, our hearts were more or less in the right place, but our awareness was narrower than it is now, and we made her in our image. I believe she can grow as we have, and expand her worldview and the diversity of her group of friends.