Posts

Unconscious Bias: A Conscious Confession

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  “The Origin of Love”, Anna Hopkinson 2019. Yesterday, something happened to me that has not happened before. I had to part ways with an editor on moral grounds. The person in question objected to my explicit reveal that the protagonist and his nemesis were conjoined twins in a former life. The reason? Apparently, two pairs of conjoined twins in one story “stretched credulity” and raised distracting questions about “who gets to move the limbs etc.” Couldn’t they just be normal twins or best friends? No, they couldn’t. I felt honour bound to say these comments sounded prejudiced, and I couldn’t accept the edits. I’m sure this editor did not intend to be prejudiced. It was unconscious bias. * This morning, I watched David Harewood’s documentary for the BBC, “Why is Covid Killing People of Colour?” It contained some shocking statistics; not least the grossly disproportionate number of Pakistani people living in deprived areas (something particularly relevant to my home town of Bradford).

Beauty and the Beast Revisited

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  “This is where the wealthy and the powerful rule...” The words that put a shiver down my teenage spine.  Last Christmas I was given a full box set of the 1980s TV drama Beauty and the Beast. And surprisingly given the lack of activities available in 2020, I’m still working my way through it. For those not in the know, the series followed the story of Catherine, a wealthy lawyer in New York, and Vincent, a sensitive and troubled man-beast who was part of a secret colony below the city streets. It absolutely rocked my world in the 80s and early 90s. I still have the novelisation, cassette of poetry and music from the show, and unwatchable VHS tapes of four selected episodes. But mainly, I hadn’t watched it since my teens. These are my thoughts on revisiting it as a 40-something in the year 2020. 1. So many episodes! I remember going to the USA as an au pair in 1994 and discovering episodes of Beauty and the Beast I had never seen before. Well, here’s some news for myself: there are eve

St Theresa and Zellandine: The Agony and the Ecstasy

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"Zellandine and Troylus" by Anna Hopkinson, 2019 [Warning: contains sexual content] As Asexual Myths & Tales comes out this week, I would like to return to one of the most controversial stories from Asexual Fairy Tales , “Zellandine and Troylus”. The reaction of some readers to this story almost caused me to abandon writing the second volume of tales. Opinions were raised about the "lack of consent" in the story and how offensive it was. (Yes, yes, I know. Never read your own reviews). Be assured, I take this kind of thing very seriously. I've tried very hard to put trigger warnings into Myths & Tales . And there is also a story - "The True Love Knot" which could be considered the antithesis of "Zellandine". I won't give any spoilers here. As I wrote in Asexual Fairy Tales : “Zellandine and Troylus” is one of the earliest known versions of “Sleeping Beauty” and comes from the medieval French romance Perceforest (c.1330-44). It als

Susanna Clarke: A True Narnia Fan

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  Warning: contains spoilers A while back, I wrote a blog entitled Let’s Talk About Narnia  in which I bemoaned the fact that many authors seem to express disappointment with Narnia because of its “Christian allegory”. I’ve always felt that to say so is to not really “get” Narnia. For a start, it’s not even an allegory! And it has so many hidden depths, so many influences. If you want to truly understand Narnia, you must understand C.S. Lewis as an academic, an intellectual, apologist and medievalist, who debated with his fellow intellectuals, JRR Tolkien, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams a.k.a. The Inklings, and absorbed their ideas into his own.  Or you could read Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi . It’s a strange tale of a man called Piranesi (although he’s sure that’s not his name) who lives in a House of Gormenghast-like proportions, filled with statues, birds and tides. Twice a week, he meets with “The Other”, a surprisingly well-dressed and well-equipped man, whom Piranesi assists with h

My First (Virtual) Festival Appearance

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As my home district of Bradford goes back into lockdown, it might feel as if horizons are contracting. But thanks to the LGBTQIA community in the neighbouring city of Leeds, this last weekend mine expanded. It was last year (in 2019, when most of us couldn't have dreamt of the devastation of COVID-19) that I received a private message on Twitter from Leeds LGBT+ Literature Festival saying someone had recommended my book Asexual Fairy Tales for inclusion in the 2020 festival. My first festival! Well, I have read twice at the Fringe of Ilkley Literature Festival, but this was a proper, invited, paid author appearance! So exciting!! As it happened, none of the invited guests would actually get to appear in the usual way. But, like so many, the organisers of the festival put all their efforts into producing an online, virtual festival. Pre-recorded readings, zoom workshops, the lot. The benefit is, you didn't (and still don't) have to be in Leeds at a certain time to enjoy the

Back in Time for Tennis

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This isn't my usual sort of post, but I've just seen the BBC are getting through the lack of Wimbledon by showing and discussing matches and tournaments of the past. Wimbledon was a big part of my teenage/young adult life, and I remembered that I wrote a poem about Wimbledon 1992 when I was 18. See if this jogs a memory for anyone else... Wimbledon '92   Goodbye Connors - foiled again, Sanchez, Sanchez - back to Spain, Looks like Lendl really blew it, Sabatini - can she do it? Here's the line-up on Court One -  Strawberries and lots of sun, Umpire who is there to vex, Seles making sound effects. Thirty, fourty. What an ace! That lob was in the perfect place. Bops the net judge. Oh, I say! Wind it back - action replay. Here comes Britain's hope and glory, Pray it's not the same old story. Boris Becker - hearts on hold. Graf, Agassi - go for gold. Here are some results for you, Underdogs are pulling through. Top seed beaten. Oh, well played! Over to Virginia Wade.

Pride Month: My Top 5 Asexual Icons

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The world is going through very tough times at the moment and there's a lot to make us cry, but there are always things that bring us joy in the midst of despair. For me, one of those things has been the successful crowdfunding of Asexual Myths & Tales   (the follow-up to last year's Asexual Fairy Tales ) right in the middle of Pride Month.  So, what better time to share my top five asexual icons. Just to clarify, I don't mean by this that I necessarily believe all these people and characters are historically/canonically asexual, but that to me they symbolise something about my asexuality; they are somehow poster people for my identity.  The Virgin Mary "Pearls and Roses" by Anna Hopkinson Trust me, as a Christian with both Protestant and Catholic friends and relations, I've heard all the arguments back and forth about whether Mary really was a lifelong virgin. To me, it matters less from a theological point of view than it does from a personal viewpoint.