Creatures! I come bearing good news – Creative Scotland have funded the creation of my second novel, HellSans. As some of you may know, I have fibromyalgia, a chronic illness with symptoms that include chronic pain, exhaustion and cognitive problems. I had to give up my part-time job because I was so ill and unable to cope in a busy office environment. I’m also unable to do the myriad of other things writers do to make ends meet, so news of the funding was a massive relief. I’m extremely pleased that Creative Scotland recognise the worth in my creative endeavours and have chosen to invest in my work.
HellSans is a near-future sci-fi thriller with lashings of body horror (I’ve been describing it as my ‘Hollywood action movie by way of Cronenberg’). HellSans is a ubiquitous font; when exposed to it, most people experience contentment, but a minority are allergic. The HellSans allergy sufferers (HSAs) are persecuted and live in poverty in a ghetto on the edge of the capital city. Jane, CEO of the company that manufactures the Inex (a cyborg doll-like creature that replaces mobile phones) is successful and famous until she falls ill with the allergy and becomes embroiled in a government conspiracy. She loses her job and her wealth, ending up in the ghetto where she meets Icho, a scientist who has invented a cure for HSA. Icho is on the run from governmental factions and The Elegy Seraphs (the ghetto ‘terrorist’ group), who have their own agenda for the cure. Jane and Icho work together to expose government corruption and bring the cure to the ghetto.
HellSans is an excoriating indictment of normative society and the current UK Conservative government (who were recently investigated by the UN for committing “grave and systematic violations” against disabled people). One of my protagonists is disabled and she is actively involved in shaping the world during political turmoil – it’s important to have a disabled protagonist who is the ‘hero’. Whilst HellSans is set in a fictional future, it’s a reflection of the current socio-political reality that people with disabilities face. My aim with HellSans is to give a stronger voice to people with disabilities, particularly the socio-political implications of being chronically ill. It’s also a fun action thriller and I’m thrilled to be spending the next few months building Jane and Icho’s world.
I have other good news, creatures, but I can’t share it just yet… watch this space.