Alicia E. Goranson is trying to change the face of trans literature, and sheâ€™s doing a good job of it so far. The Boston-area transgendered writer hopes her 2006 debut novel Supervilliainz (Suspects Thoughts) will break the trans community out of the â€śnavel-gazingâ€ť of the memoirs and theoretical works that have dominated the trans lit genre. Â
Goranson, prefers to identify as â€śa geek writer who makes awesome fudge,â€ť but uses transgendered woman as a more accessible label.Â She was a co-winner in 2004â€™sÂ contest which brings media attention to unpublished authors of queer writing and opens doors for publication of their work.Â Goranson was picked for Supervilliainz, an action adventure hero-villain epic she refers to as â€śactivism.â€ť
â€śSupervillainz,â€ť she explains, â€ś is a slippery little beast designed to squeeze through the barriers erected in our culture to keep trans experiences gross and inaccessible to the public at large. Itâ€™s an attempt to show readers that trans characters can be written in a positive, respectful, mainstream-accessible format without the standard tropes of coming-out, transitioning or having them die.â€ť
The novelâ€™s action is set in Boston, a city Goranson calls, â€śpretty sexualâ€¦under its austere glamour.â€ťÂ She says Supervillainz is â€śthe sort of book you hide in class inside a queer theory tome â€¦[it ] designed to redefine the traditional expectations of trans literature on every level, and leave transpeople with a myth that is entirely our own.â€ť
Â â€śTranspeople need more myths,â€ť Goranson argues.Â â€śMyths make our experiences universalâ€¦The characters become the everymanâ€”or everywomanâ€”against the unstoppable force.
â€śThe idea for the novel was to take an epic story and play it straight,â€ť she says.Â â€śIâ€™m big on using fairy-tales and myths as underlying structure for contemporary stories. I think they resonate better with us. I want to re-tell the old fables and myths in modern language because the only reason theyâ€™ve stuck around is that they still resonate with us.â€ť
Although she likes mythic stories, Goranson says she doesnâ€™t â€śbelieve in good or evil.Â I believe in stupidity, lack of empathy and sheer situational desperation. We have choices and consequences. No matter how horrible an act, it brings some relief [for someone]â€¦But itâ€™s comforting for us to dress up these situations as good and evil.â€ť
â€śAt a fundamental level, Iâ€™m breaking down these stories about the nature of hero-villain relationships in the context of breaking down the stereotypes and tropes associated with transpeople.â€ť
For her next project, Goranson is already work on a trilogy, the War of the Foxes, since shortly after she started Supervillainz. â€śItâ€™s about a struggle between two women for a place in the sci-fi/fantasy fandom, as they become increasingly isolated from their current social worlds. While Supervillainz is an epic, War of the Foxes is a folk tale.â€ť
Goranson promises War of the Foxes will be â€śhuge.â€ť â€śItâ€™ll be grandiose, operatic, everything you liked about Supervillainz, but better. The transgender characters will be less prominent though, as Iâ€™m exploring the self-destruction of geek circles.â€ť
Sheâ€™s also working on a side project she says she hopes to sell to a large publisher. â€śIâ€™m completely selling out in itâ€”no queers, no activism, just a retiree walking across Cape Cod. I call it my Book of Evil.â€ť
Given a chance, Goranson swears to honor her readers intelligence and emotional attachment to her characters.Â â€śI wonâ€™t betray their trust. I wonâ€™t have any character raped or do anything squicky, leave any plot holes, or break continuity. Iâ€™m far too OCD for that. Iâ€™m also a reactionary, but a pragmatic one. I wonâ€™t simply talk about how to re-envision a trope or a stereotype; Iâ€™ll do it, and Iâ€™ll show you how you can do it, too.â€ť
Trans writer Jacob Anderson-Minshall can be reached at email@example.com.