Monday 17 August 2015

#Pitchwars Mentee Bio

(If you don't know what Pitchwars is, I'm not the droid you're looking for)

((Actually it's a writing competition or sorts, where you compete for the attention of a set of mentors, who will help you whip your manuscript into shape in the hope of attracting an agent in its second round, and this is a who am I for the mentors))

So who am I?

I'm David Gillon (oddly enough), I'm 51, British, born in the Northeast (in the borderlands between the Mackems and the Pitmatics - these are genuine linguistic groups), but now living in the South East - actually I've lived in the South East since I was 21, so feelings about 'home' are complicated.

I was formerly a software engineer working for Evil Aerospace (no, they aren't really called that, but I'm under a gagging order not to name them, and I need to call them something, plus evil d'oh!), where I was involved in the development of fly-by-wire systems, head-up displays and weapon systems for aircraft ranging from the (Eurofighter) Typhoon, to the F-16 to the C-17, to the Boeing 777 (no, that one doesn't have weapons systems). This was quite literally the only job I'd ever had. Despite twenty odd years working for the Military-Industrial-Complex I'm a Bleeding Heart Liberal at heart (though the actual Liberals are well to the right of me).

Nowadays I'm a disability rights activist, which is linked to the reason I no longer work for Evil Aerospace, and the gagging order. I'm fairly complexly disabled, I'm hypermobile (aka Bendy), though fortunately I don't sublux (partially-dislocate) too many joints (DiversifYA did a piece on me and Hypermobility Syndrome here - I'd no sooner said I never have major subluxes than I had multiple shoulder subluxes and my hip has since gotten in on the action), I'm dyspraxic, and I'm neurodiverse in some currently undefined fashion - a psychologist spontaneously started assessing me for Aspergers during a pain management session a couple of years ago). These are all disabilities that are present from birth, but they're also all disabilities which have only been widely recognised in recent years. HMS became an issue in my mid-20s (which is fairly common), and I've been using various braces and mobility aids pretty much ever since, I recently became a wheelchair user, and have been kicking myself for not doing it 15 years ago. I wrote up my experiences of going to the last Worldcon - Loncon 3 - in a hire chair here and have a whole bunch of essays on the experience of becoming a wheelchair user that I'm probably going to create a new blog for in the near future. Obviously this means diversity in fiction is pretty close to my heart.

I've been an SF/F fan for as long as I can remember, I grew up on A C Clarke and Andre Norton books from our local library, and as my tastes matured and developed found Lois McMaster Bujold and C J Cherryh as particular favourites. I've been writing since my early 20s, but disability has been a major issue - creativity and chronic pain aren't happy bedfellows, I've finally gotten a decent level of pain control and significant writing is now a possibility again. I knuckled down last year to complete my urban fantasy novel Graveyard Shift, but was too late for Pitchwars 2014 and I've had to fight against some non-disability related medical issues to get its newest rewrite ready for Pitchwars 2015, but got there in the end.

I had one short story accepted for publication in the '90s, but that anthology never appeared, and I appear to have come very close to getting a story accepted for the recent 'Accessing the Future' anthology of disability related speculative fiction, but fell at the last hurdle/cut. I'm primarily a long-form writer, I just wish I had a long form body to support that! I've done slightly better with fact-based writing, having written for the UK broadsheet the Guardian, guest blogged for the campaigning group 38 Degrees and write on disability in both my own blog and in various other venues. I'm active on twitter, as @wtbdavidg, on disability, equality in general, and as a supporter of diversity initiatives in speculative and other areas of fiction such as We Need Diverse Books.

Complicating this year's Pitchwars submission, I'm off sailing in the Med with friends from the 21st, and net connectivity in small Greek fishing villages may not be ideal. I'll make every effort to be available if mentors want to chat, but can't guarantee connectivity until I get back to Athens on the 29th, when I should have net access in my hotel, or be able to find it in a cafe. I then have a few days in Athens, flying back on the 2nd. The holiday is exciting enough, first time flying with the chair, first time touristing with the chair, but it's also doing double duty as research for a YA novel I was working on before the health issues temporarily derailed me. (If I get any late requests for partial or full MS I'm hoping to set up a dropbox folder mentors can get at)

And that's me.

1 comment:

  1. Love your first line, David. Made this SW fan smile. Good luck at Pitch Wars!!!