2016: Roasting Marshmallows Over the Dumpster Fire


Me at the beginning of 2016 vs me at the end of 2016


There’s no other way to say this: 2016 has been the best year of my life.

I know it’s been an absolute garbage fire of celebrity deaths and regular deaths and celebrity TV presidential elections. I’ve experienced the grief and terror of all that, too. However, I’ve also written more, published more, traveled more, and gotten closer to the mountain than I’ve ever been before. The image that comes to mind is that ubiquitous 2016 dumpster fire gif, but I’m sitting off to the side, roasting marshmallows over the flames. I don’t mean that in an insensitive way, but that’s where I’m at. To recap:

My debut novel, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, winner of the Philip K. Dick Award was re-released in October. I also sold my sequel, The Book of Etta, which is available for pre-order now. I’ve been a published author since 2014, but this year I felt like a real, actual professional author. Some of that is interviews and podcasts and being on television, and some of that is just deciding that this is it.

Midwife received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. So did Etta. Midwife was named one of the best books of the year by PW, and then by Amazon. Etta was named one of the 10 best forthcoming novels. I signed books in San Francisco and New York. I spoke at my community college, MSJC, and my alma mater, UC Berkeley. (You’re seeing the marshmallow thing, right?)

I also sold a healthy handful of short stories. Here’s all the things, in case you don’t obsessively follow me on the internets and you would like to be entertained:

  • Next of Kin, about astronauts in an alternate timeline where going to space works very differently. Published by Motherboard’s Terraform.
  • Personal Trainer, about neural integration for exercise and bodily ownership. Published by Compelling Science Fiction.
  • Nobody Told Me, about a girl who hears a voice that no one else can. Published by Liquid Imagination.
  • Maze, about a curse in a small town that I used to live in. This one will be published in 2017, in an anthology called Strange California. Can’t WAIT for people back home to read this one.

I have a couple of other sales forthcoming in 2017 that I can’t talk about yet. Stay tuned.

I wrote a lot of essays this year, since there was no shortage of things to be either enraged or enthralled about. (That’s the sum total of feelings we all had this year, right?)

  • Betrayal, a personal essay I wrote about weight-loss surgery was published twice. First, by The Establishment, and again by Everyday Feminism. This one pissed a lot of people off.
  • Jenny Calendar: TV’s First Technopagan, a cultural essay I wrote about Buffy, since I can’t stop rewatching the series. This is the first thing I’ve written about witchcraft in just ages. Now is a good time to get back into the craft, but my feelings about it have evolved a great deal in the last decade or so.
  • I wrote a review/adoration of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad for Tor.com. It’s an amazing book and everyone in America should read it.
  • Since this is the mad mad mad mad year when The Handmaid’s Tale became an obvious signpost again, and since it’s the book that inspired me to write mine, I was very glad to write about the next generation of handmaids for Unbound Worlds. If you haven’t read this classic yet, get on it. If you’ve read it already, it’s probably time to do so again. If you liked my book, you’ll love Atwood’s.
  • Keeping a diary is a gift you give your future selves. Let me explain why both I and my characters do it.
  • Like many liberals, I wrote about the inevitability of Trump’s defeat, in light of how dangerously stupid he is. I can’t stand to look at this one.
  • And then I wrote about what happens next, from the point of view of a dystopian author who does not want to be right.

I also wrote a piece of satire for McSweeney’s about what it would be like if women wrote men the way men write women. This is probably the most widely read I’ve ever been, and has gotten me the weirdest fan mail I’ve ever seen.

All of this happened this year because I worked my ass off, and my friends and family and readers have shared my work and recommended my book and helped me get my stuff out there. Thank you for the marshmallows. It’s been one hell of a year.

If you missed out on some of this, or if you’d rather the internets came to you, subscribe to my newsletter. I have one of those now.

powered by TinyLetter

Liked it? Take a second to support Meg Elison on Patreon!

Leave a Reply