I had the absolute pleasure to meet author Leandra Vane at CatalystCon West in LA last month. Her workshop entitled "Parallel: Comparing Societal Stigma Between Disability and Sexual Non-monogamy" completely kicked ass. The only disappointing thing in the workshop was realizing that Leandra lives in the mid-west, which means I can't try to hang out with her all the time, but frankly makes the work she does even more kick-ass. (There are reasons I choose to live in California--it's easier to be me out here.)
Leandra generously gave me a copy of her book "Cast from the Earth," despite my multiple assertions that I wanted to pay her for her work. :) OMG--buy this book. Seriously: it's a polyamorous love story featuring characters who could be referred to as queer or bisexual (yay bisexual characters!), many of whom have disabilities. And it's just a downright pleasurable read!
One thing that really struck me reading the book was noticing the tension in my body at different points in the story because I expected drama or heartbreak or violence or "punishment" for these characters for being who they are. Because that's what we usually get in media with stories like these. I was a little shocked to realize in this self-reflection how ingrained that expectation is in my body, which made me value and celebrate the power and importance of Leandra's writing even more than I already did. There are no portrayals of poly-agony/poly drama or over-wrought psycho-social battles with internalized shame around sexual desire. The story isn't "about" polyamory or disability or sexual identity. It's about the characters, and polyamory and disability and sexuality are part of the character's lives. It's so refreshing!
I also want to celebrate Leandra's portrayal of sex work in the novel. Trying to find an adjective to describe the portrayal, I struggle, considering "neutral", "non-stigmatizing", "positive," but decide to go with "realistic." Again, the novel isn't about sex work, but sex work has been a part of some of the characters' lives in different ways. Just part of their story. No big deal. Again...so fucking refreshing.
Thanks, Leandra, for writing a book that reflects so many of the ways I want the world to be, giving me hope that I'm not the only one who desires this, thinks this is possible, and is working to get there. Everything except the zombies, of course. They can stay in the books.
Click here to order your copy of "Cast from the Earth!"