Elliot J Harper
A Brief Chat with Spoonie Press
Updated: Sep 2, 2022
Spoonie Press is a publisher and community for and by creative disabled, chronically ill, and neurodiverse people. They believe that the conversation to which they contribute is an important one that deserves to be discussed year-round, so they publish both a print literary journal and a digital magazine. Spoonie Journal publishes annually, and Spoonie Magazine publishes weekly. They also curate related resources and hold creative events. They champion representation and honesty in the creative discussion of chronic conditions. Their mission is to share authentic experiences of disability— as happy, sad, inspirational, or frustrating as they may be. Individuals from these backgrounds face unique challenges, so they have created an equally unique space for them. They are inclusive of creators from all backgrounds, races, orientations, identities, and ethnicities. Problematic language and ideas have no home there.
The press is run by Sara Watkins, editor-in-chief, a full-time developmental editor and writer of weird fiction, and her two cats, Milo, Head of Branding, and Kellen, Lead Financial Officer.
Hi Sara, thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions. Let’s jump straight in; Who is your favourite author?
This is such a hard question! I’m sure everyone says that. I have a penchant for fantasy, dark humour, and surrealism, so I’m going to go with my gut here: Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Tamora Pierce (her books shaped my childhood). Those are, of course, very popular names that helped to form my love for reading. Some of my favourite contemporary authors include Jeanann Verlee and Amber Sparks. I was also incredibly impressed with Carmen Maria Machado recently after reading her short The Husband Stitch, which is a retelling of The Velvet Ribbon.
What is your favourite book?
One of my more recent reads is Amy Tan’s book— it’s as funny as her stand-up and I highly recommend it. I’d also recommend Love Poems for Anxious People by John Kenney; I keep returning to it. My favourite short story collection is And I Do Not Forgive You by Amber Sparks. I don’t think this collection gets nearly as much love as it deserves, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. However, my all-time favourite book is Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianne Wynne Jones. Many people are familiar with Studio Ghibli’s movie retelling. While an equally amazing movie, these stories vary wildly in plot and meaning. The book is actually the first in a series, and it’s highly worth reading. It’s written in a way that’s accessible for younger readers and still riveting for older ones.
What made you start the press?
I started Spoonie Press because there is a lack of disability representation in publishing. Those presses that exist tend to focus on specific aspects of disability, such as “overcoming” disability or “living with” disability. For this reason, many excellent disabled, chronically ill, and neurodivergent authors are turned away— they’re told that their stories don’t fit the bill. Writers with these backgrounds already have so much to overcome; stigma is an additional burden they don’t need to bear. Spoonie Press is a home for those that need, and deserve, one. As a disabled, chronically ill, and neurodiverse person myself, I decided to create this space to help others.
What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to Spoonie Press?
If you think your work is a good fit, send it through! If you’re not sure, send it anyway. We ask that all work engage with disability, chronic illness, or neurodiversity in some way. Our full guidelines can be found here, and our submissions are always open.
Thank you, Sara, for answering those questions.
Sara and Spoonie Press does a lot of great work for disabled, chronically ill, and neurodiverse people by giving the community a safe space to be creative. In a frantic world where voices can easily get lost in the overwhelming noise of the internet, Sara has created a place to amplify a traditionally looked-over group and I think it’s wonderful. They are currently running a Kofi for donations so that all their contributors will receive the annual print anthology. If you’ve got a few quid/dollars, follow this link. The cause is worthy enough on its own, but all donors will receive an eBook of the current volume as well, which is awesome.
Thank you for reading this month’s Brief Chat.