Long time no write! Despite all the notes I’ve been taking, I haven’t completed anything I’d intended to write for my blog over the last few months because most of my attention has been devoted to finishing my second novel, We Are the Weirdos. And now, it’s done! On the New Moon in Leo, my BFF Cee Lavery and I launched our IndieGoGo campaign to make this novel tangible and get it into your hands. The novel itself is complete, I finished editing the final draft on Courtney Love’s birthday, and it’s nearly 90,000 words long (which, yeah, I cut back from 100,000)! Now we’re working on the layout and design. Cee is illustrating the book cover as well as header images for each chapter, and each of us are offering Tarot readings (from me!) and custom Tarot card illustrations (from them!) as rewards.
We’re hoping (and spellcasting!) to raise $3,613. Yes, it’s quite a specific number! As well as the costs of printing and shipping my novel, and acquiring more copies of my other books, I’m also paying Cee for the time, skills, and magic of creating custom illustrations. If (well, when!) we’re fully funded, this’ll also help cover the annual fee of maintaining my P.O. Box. Etc etc. Along with the boring, practical stuff, the numbers three, six, and thirteen were chosen for multiple reasons. Over the last few years of working on We Are the Weirdos, the Tarot cards that became the most meaningful to me were the Three of Pentacles, Six of Cups, and Death.
While each of these cards have a zillion meanings, in terms of the novel (and of the writing process itself), the Three of Pentacles keeps me feeling encouraged to conceptualize my writing as a contribution, a valuable, tangible, and spiritual contribution to mad & queer & crazy & cripple literature and art; the Six of Cups is a card I use to interact with my past selves, which is something I’ve been doing a lot as I created teenage characters who, although this is obviously fiction, are also very directly related to my own selves and based deeply in personal experience; and Death is Death, you know that one. Indigo Carson, the main character in We Are the Weirdos, is a 13-year old goth struggling with gender and poverty – they are one of the creatures who came to me as part of my process of making magic outta trauma, showing my past selves that we’ve survived, we make art, many of our dreams are coming true. We’ve survived more than we know how to tell you, but this is one piece.
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In this work of experimental fiction and magic realism, Maranda Elizabeth writes a vulnerable tale of perpetually misunderstood and powerless teenagers in a small town. We Are the Weirdos is an exploration of trauma, gender, poverty, invalidation, and memory, as well as themes of trust, abandonment, confinement, and revenge. The characters encounter one another, as well as authority figures and ghosts, at home and through institutions: school, court cells, a detention centre, and a group home, dreaming of magic and escape.
Indigo is a 13-year old goth and teenage criminal with a history of antisocial tendencies, shoplifting, destructive impulses, cutting, and dysmorphia/dysphoria. When they start bleeding petals and flames along with their blood, they make connections between alienation, magic, and survival.
Grey is Indigo’s best friend, a shy trans girl with stolen Sharpies and heavy sketchbooks whose illustrations come to life and make spells come true.
Both are the only children of poor, depressed, single moms in a small, mostly-white town in Southern Ontario. In 1999, their favourite movie is The Craft, their favourite band is Marilyn Manson, and their favourite activity is spell-casting. When they find a book about witchcraft hidden among a series of letters written to and from their mothers, who claim not to know each other and refuse to speak – one is mostly-absent, the other is obsessed with a talk show hosted by a psychic and Saturday night episodes of Cops – they choose to communicate with ghosts, and each other, instead.
As the two are separated, and Indigo is charged with crimes they barely remember committing, each of them continue casting spells – or trying to – in dangerous and painful attempts to stay alive. Shuffled through the juvenile injustice system, Indigo encounters Sea, a clumsy and curious social worker who hates her job and feels complicit in the pain of teenagers, and Mint, a 16-year old Black girl with a stick-and-poke tattoo of moon phases on her wrist, rage of her own about isolation and incarceration, and a longer sentence for a non-violent crime.
Each of them wants to be believed, to be real, and to create their own form of justice.
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I’ve shared the first two chapters of We Are the Weirdos for free online! Please read it here! I’d really appreciate it if you set aside some time, maybe curled up with a yummy drink and your diary, and if you could share it, that’d really help make my spells keep coming true! Please note that I’ve included the novel’s content notes with the excerpt, and they’ll be published inside the e-book and paperback as well. I know it’s not common to print content notes in fiction, but it felt necessary for this particular story, not only because it deals with abuse and youth incarceration, but because those experiences are still (forever) so close to me.
Speaking of that, it’s also not common to find novels about incarceration, and juvenile detention centres and group homes more specifically, so I had very few points of reference for creating this story, aside from my own experiences as a teenager. Being a high school dropout as well as someone who accumulated multiple charges and sentences as a teenager is still, at the age of thirty-one, something that often makes me feel quite separate from potential queer community/ies and literary community/ies, and sometimes I wonder where folks like us end up. I know it’s a cliché to say that we write the books we wanna read, we write the books our younger selves were looking for, but that really is what We Are the Weirdos is. Back then, and even now, I found very, very few stories that felt even vaguely representational of what I went through – the way(s) I struggle(d) with alienation, not-belonging, bodies, gender, loneliness, and isolation. I’m still searching for them. I’m still writing them. There were many times when I thought I would die writing this novel, but I didn’t wanna leave an unfinished draft behind.
As I write this, ten days after launching the crowdfunding campaign for We Are the Weirdos, we’re already 47% funded, thanks to you! Cee and I have been spending a lot of time together, working on a cover design so dreamy I’m definitely gonna get it tattooed to celebrate the completion of this project, and now we’re working on approximately forty (yes, forty!) more illustrations, one per chapter. This novel is about 90,000 words, forty-ish chapters, and told from multiple points of view. It’s been an intense process, to say the very least. But it’s done. It’s written, edited a thousand times by me, a few more times with some friends, and yet again by me. It’s done. I’m writing my acknowledgments now, something I didn’t do with my other books, and some dedications, too.
I also wanna ask y’all a quick lil favour: Will you please share our IndieGoGo on your social media, with your friends, and maybe even with your pets? And let them (and me!) know why you’ve chosen to support We Are the Weirdos? As you know, writing can be lonely, vulnerable work, and it would mean a lot to Cee and I if you could pass along this novel and share your encouraging words. Thank you again! To spells coming true!
P.S.: If you’ve benefited from my writing in any way – if my words have inspired you, helped you feel less alone, or sparked some weird feeling within you; if you’ve felt encouraged, or curious, or comforted – please consider compensating me by offering a donation of any amount. Whether you’ve been reading my writing for years, or just stumbled into me this afternoon, I invite you to help me sustain the process!