The 2017 Neuri Award winner is m.a. nicholson!
BIO: m.a. nicholson is a writer of children’s literature and speculative fiction, producing stories that connect topics of magic, mental illness and animals with relevant social-political issues.
First, tell us a little about yourself. What inspires you to do what you do?
I am inspired to do what I do, to write, because I truly believe storytelling is one of the most powerful forces for changing the world. Everything and everyone has a story, but it is up to us whether we listen and if we choose to participate in shifting the narratives we live by each day.
Tell us about the book you are currently writing. How did it come about?
Currently, I am writing a book of science fiction about the apocalypse happening in the modern day. As worldwide devastation continues to be ever-present in news-media, rather than repeating tired clichés and tropes, this story is about characters who endure the crisis and do so with opposing interpretations of the events. This idea came about because there are so few depictions of dramatic social change occurring where, instead of violent dystopias, there are honest and beautiful transformations that arise.
The Neuri Award wants to “cultivate literature from the margins about the margins.” What does that mean to you?
Cultivating literature from the margins about the margins means actively resisting the ideologies of capitalism, white supremacy and domination that coopt so much creativity and inspiration to help and acknowledge one another as inherently valuable. It means acknowledging complicated identities and relationships among us all while still striving for a new vision that empowers us all.
How has writing affected your outlook on things? Has it made you take chances or see things in a different light?
Writing has changed my outlook quite a bit actually – previously, I had been far more involved in public activism and community organizing. But with my own chronic illness and general fatigue, I desperately needed a new outlet not only to continue with my efforts of helping others but a means of better articulating and sharing the possibilities I imagine. I see things differently only insofar that I believe a true metamorphosis of the human spirit is possible – not in politics, media or other institutions, but through recognizing ourselves in others, animals and the Earth. That mutual recognition happens most often in stories.
Finally, do you have any advice and or tips for aspiring writers out there, especially disabled writers?
My humble advice for other aspiring writers would be to persevere with integrity. What I mean by that is find in life what makes your heart flutter and breath vanish, what excites you with chills, and work your hardest to capture that moment in a way that others can experience it too. Our time in life is forever uncertain, but finding a way to be really heard and cherished through what you have to say is probably one of the noblest achievements and gifts we can leave behind.