The Spoon Knife Anthologies: Groundbreaking Neurodivergent, Queer, and Mad Lit

[Pictured above: the cover of Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber]

You might already know how integral the Spoon Knife anthology is to AutPress’ mission. More to the point, it offers writers an opportunity to explore themes that intersect with neurodivergence and queerness, or neuroqueer existence. From the annual series’ debut in Spring 2016 to the upcoming third volume, our goals include publishing authors writing radical transformative work, uplifting voices that are generally marginalized by the mainstream, and being one of the paying outlets for writers that values work and compensates its authors.

Thoughts on Compliance, Defiance, and Resistance

Released in Spring 2016, our first Spoon Knife volume featured poetry, fiction, and memoir from more than 25 neurodivergent authors. That first anthology, edited by Michael Scott Monje, Jr. and N.I. Nicholson, collected a body of work in which contributors spoke to how they navigated compliance, defiance, and consent and in many cases, formed their own strategies of resistance. It was also one of the first wave of titles on the NeuroQueer Books imprint, the beginning of books that focus on queer issues, queering, sexuality, gender, and the intersections of gender, neurodivergence, and other aspects of identity.

Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber

The second collection reached out to both new talent and established writers to push literary boundaries and reveal neuroqueer experiences from within. Edited by Dani Alexis Ryskamp and Sam Harvey, the Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber anthology asked contributors to consider a question: What happens when experience itself becomes a series of tests that must be successfully navigated? This volume gathered work from authors from many marginalized groups, resulting in a volume of stunning, innovative neurodivergent, Queer, and Mad literature.

Spoon Knife 3: Incursions

Coming this spring: the series’ third volume, Spoon Knife 3: Incursions. This edition was edited by Nick Walker and Andrew M. Reichart, the co-creators of the Weird Luck universe of novels and webcomics with interconnected stories about interdimensional travel, alternate realities, and improbabilities becoming probable. Stories from Weird Luck have appeared in both the first anthology and the second edition and will also feature in this third collection. Expect more weird fiction, memoir, poetry in Incursions, which asked authors to consider the myriads of possibilities when one reality intrudes into another.

In 2019: A Neurodivergent Guide to Spacetime

The series continues in early 2019 with its fourth volume, Spoon Knife 4: A Neurodivergent Guide to Spacetime. N.I. Nicholson is editing this collection, so expect a full volume of neurodivergent spacetime weirdness. Its submissions call is pretty fresh, so you have plenty of time to submit your own work. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out the first two volumes and stay tuned for Spoon Knife 3 later this spring.

Great Gift Ideas for Writers

They say that if you want to succeed as a professional writer, you need to read. It sounds like simple advice, but it’s true. Specifically, you need to read what is fresh and new, as well as what will give you an idea about the history of the style you are developing and working in. For writers who don’t always embody the traditionally cultivated image of a writer in American publishing, it can be hard to find role model writers.

Historically, disabled writers, mentally ill writers, and even writers of color have found themselves erased from mainstream publishing. Luckily, there are a number of independent venues that have always served to help elevate diverse books. Traditionally, these include important presses like Grove, as well as daring university presses like the one out of Duke.

In today’s electronic landscape, both writers and readers are clamoring for diverse books, and a new generation of writers is growing up demanding stories about people like them, by people like them. That’s why Autonomous Press and Neuroqueer Books have expanded our search for diverse writers. If you’re looking for a gift for a reader who wants to see both diversity and depth of storytelling, you need to check out the package discount on our Spoon Knife series. Between the two volumes, over 60 writers with a diverse range of backgrounds tell stories of neurological divergence and queerness.

There are also deep discounts on The Puzzlebox Collective’s Shaping Clay series, following the exploits of an autistic transgender girl as she comes to terms with the need to keep her identity hidden from everyone around her.

Lovers of poetry will find Barking Sycamores a treat, and you can easily tip them off to the free reading on the blog before surprising readers with the collections, available now on the Autonomous Press site. Of course, Christmas isn’t the only time readers need new books, so it might be worthwhile to add yourself to our mailing list today. Mailing list subscribers get access to great discounts not available elsewhere, including 20 percent off new release coupons, bundle clearance deals, and more.

Order soon! You’ll want to get your order to our store by 12/14 to make sure we can get you books by the holidays.

Books About Autism: What’s Out There?

Autism is one of the most talked-about subjects in recent years, and it’s one of the hottest topics for books, as well. Autistic writers are increasingly getting involved in publishing, resulting in books from a wide range of perspectives – including titles written by autistic people specifically for the parents of autistic children.

Like books on any topic, however, not all books on autism are created equally. When you read, it’s important to consider what type of book you’re reading, who its audience is, and what it’s trying to convince you.

Here are the most common types of books about autism:

  1. Personal Narratives

Also known as “I am autistic and I wrote about it,” these books may simply be sharing the author’s experiences, or they may be seeking to convey important information about autism and being autistic. The latter are often aimed at a more specific audience, including other autistic people, non-autistic professionals who work in the field, and parents of autistic children.

  1. Secondhand or “Viewer” Narratives

A fair number of parents and professionals, not themselves autistic, have written about autism and autistic people in their lives, as well. These range from books in which non-autistic parents write about their children to books in which professionals with decades of experience in the classroom or laboratory share their perspective. It’s wisest to weigh credentials against tone here: even the most decorated academic or researcher may write about the humans they “study” as if they’re lab rats, not people.

  1. Examinations

This category includes both heavy academic tomes on autism and creative works, like The US Book. While non-autistic parents of autistic children may pick up these books if they’re looking for deeper ways to understand their child’s perspective, these books are more frequently read by other researchers and professionals. Unlike first- or secondhand narrative-type works, their central argument and agenda is often much clearer.

Have you written a book in which autism or autistic perspectives play a key role? Keep these categories in mind as well. When you query publishers, you’ll want to specify how your book fits in to the books already out there – both how it’s similar to others and how it fills a role that no other book can currently fill.

AutPress: Stepping Up the Representation Game

Representation of marginalized groups in media and literature is critical. The Oscar-winning film Moonlight and the innovative television series Sense8 both speak to the importance of seeing oneself in film, television, literature, and other modes of artistic expression. Now more than ever, neurodivergent people seek to find representations of themselves, their voices, and their experiences in literary form. Mainstream publishers have mostly ignored this community, or have relied on neurotypical authors producing hackneyed, inaccurate portrayals rooted in the same repeated stereotypes. You’ve seen them before: the Sheldon Coopers, the Christian Wolffs, the Simon Lynches. At Autonomous Press, we’re an independent publisher of diverse books aiming to change this trend.

Weird Books for Weird People

Founded in 2015, AutPress focuses solidly on bringing transformative works to print and digital formats. Its catalog consists of both single-author books and multi-contributor anthologies featuring voices that are usually marginalized in mainstream publishing: queer, transgender, neurodivergent, mad, disabled, racialized, presently or formerly homeless, and incarcerated. That translates to our single-author titles such as The US Book, a mic-dropping work that brings together science fiction, hip-hop, art history, music history and other influences to craft its own spectacular, full-color multiverse between the pages.

Among our yearly anthologies, you’ll find the Spoon Knife series, which already has two volumes under its belt with the release of Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber this past spring. Debuting in 2016 with the first Spoon Knife Anthology, the annual collections bring together work that pushes boundaries and centers on themes salient to neurodivergent, queer, and mad people. The series continues in 2018 with the release of Spoon Knife 3: Incursions, which will include works of one reality or theme breaking through into another.

New NeuroQueer Books for Fall

We’ve given you a couple of suggestions for fall reading picks, but you’ll want to stay tuned for our next set of releases. Read the story of exolinguist Richard Hayek’s quest to solve the mystery of a rogue computer virus, a missing child and a major threat capable of wiping out an entire alien species in Nantais, a new sci-fi novel by Verity Reynolds. Coming this autumn, we also have Barking Sycamores: Year Two. It’s the second installment in the annual anthologies from one of the only literary journals explicitly publishing literature and art by neurodivergent contributors. Between groundbreaking books like The US Book and Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber and upcoming titles like Nantais and Barking Sycamores: Year Two, you’ll have plenty of books to stock up on for your fall reading.