‘Cailleadhama’ Blog Tour: Writing Hope
Writing Hope – J. Scott Coatsworth
The nice folks at Horror Tree asked me to write something author-focused, so I thought I’d take on the journey I’ve been traveling these last few years as an author.
There’s so much “darkness” out there. Covid19, Russian aggression, our US politics – it seems like everywhere you turn, things are bleak and dreary. Even our fiction is infected. A few years ago, a new Superman movie came out, and it sullied the Kryptonian’s cape and reputation in a misguided effort to be dark and edgy, missing entirely what makes the Man of Steel so appealing.
I see this in a lot of movies, books, and shows, trying to out-do one another in terms of trauma, damage, sleeze, gore, and violence. And everywhere there’s a miasma of darkness. I get it. There’s plot gold in conflict, in edginess, in the dark. But sometimes we all need to drink from the well of hope instead.
My own writing has followed this path, seeking to provide light instead of darkness. In the heart of the pandemic last year, when Italy was in the throes of its lockdown, the news showed a clip of Venice – an empty Venice, lacking the usual Carnival crowds. Venice is sinking, slowly dipping into the waters of its lagoon, and as sea levels rise, its days in this world are numbered. Dark, right?
But what if there was a way to turn that around? To flip a symbol of the horrors of climate change into a vision of hope for a new world? And so was born my story in “Fix the World” called “Rise.”
Cailleadhama offers a similar hopeful view of a devastating future. This one’s set in San Francisco, half drowned and divided between the haves and have-nots. But even here there’s hope. Change is coming in the unlikely form of an elf and a trans man, and even the drowned part of the city has its own live and light.
I hope you enjoy it!
J. Scott Coatsworth’s MM “elf-meets-trans-man in post-climate-change San Francisco” book Cailleadhama is now out in audiobook format. And there’s a giveaway!
Colton is a trans man living in a climate-changed world. He plies the canals that used to be city streets, earning a living taking tourists on illicit journeys through San Francisco’s flooded edges beneath the imposing bulk of the Wall.
Tris is an elf who comes through the veil to the City by the Bay – the Caille – on a coming of age pilgrimage called the Cailleadhama. He is searching for his brother Laris, who went missing after crossing through the Caille years before.
The two men find they have common cause, and together they set off to find Laris in a world transformed by the twin forces of greed and climate change. And in the end, they find out more than they ever expected, both about the warming world and their own selves.
Scott is giving away your choice of a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate or a signed first edition of the Liminal Sky: Ariadne Cycle Trilogy (USA only). Enter via Rafflecopter:
Colton sat at the old, salvaged mirror in his wreck of an apartment, high above the Main Street Canal on San Francisco’s drowned waterfront. Not that San Francisco didn’t have its pride. As the Capital of Pacifica, she was still a center of commerce and politics.
But canal rats like Colton didn’t matter much anymore.
The bed behind him, salvaged from another abandoned apartment, was a mess of sheets, a reminder of the trick he’d brought home the night before, someone who’d been paid enough to overlook Colton’s shortcomings.
Colton took out a vial of testosterone—his last one, bought at a dear price from the Pharmacist. He pulled out a clean syringe and took off the plastic top, pulling out the stopper to 5 milliliters. He inserted the needle into the bottle, and pushed the air in, an act familiar to him from long practice. Then he pulled out the last of the drug, flicking the syringe twice and pushing out all the air bubbles.
He replaced the needle with a smaller gauge, dumping the larger one into an old caramel corn can he kept for his medical waste.
He used a piece of cotton and a bottle of cheap liquor to wipe down the injection site on his thigh, sterilizing it as best he could. Once it was dry, he took a deep breath, pinching his muscle and pulling his skin to the side. He inserted the needle into his leg, drawing the syringe back a bit to make sure there was no blood. He had to be careful to avoid injecting the hormone directly into his bloodstream.
It hurt a little, but he was used to it.
He dumped the used syringe and the empty vial into the can. He had friends who weren’t so careful to use clean needles, for their hormones or recreational drugs. Some of those friends were now dead, or worse.
Next, he took the medical bandages that he carefully washed every day, and wrapped them around his chest, binding his breasts tightly.
He didn’t look at them. He hated those reminders of his female body—he’d been running from that accident of birth for years.
He wrapped the bandages around himself three or four times, holding in his breath. Once he had his breasts secured, he adjusted them to the side to make his chest as flat as possible.
He looked at the results in the mirror. It would have to do.
He wished he could afford to be re-sequenced. To truly make his body match his gender, to not feel counterfeit in his own form.
Colton glanced out through the broken window. The lights of the City were starting to come on over there as dusk approached. He lived in a no man’s land, the part of the City where the water encroaching from the Bay had reached the old first and second floors. Toward the heart of the City, on the other side of the Wall, the rich still carried on as if nothing had changed.
Those with money called the drowned parts of the city the Canal District. It ran from the old Levis Plaza down to China Basin along the City’s Bay side. There were a number of tony restaurants on the roofs and higher floors of the City behind the Wall that offered views of this supposedly “romantic” neighborhood. For a fee, you could even take a ride through the ruins on a gondola.
That was Colton’s “day job”. It brought in enough money to afford food, hormones, and little else, at least, when he was able to pay Mason his overdue boat storage fees.
So at night, he haunted the drowned streets, looking for those he could help, or sometimes relieve of their excess cash.
Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.
He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
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Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!