Author Spotlight: Gretchin Lair Resists the System
Even though Bikes Not Rockets is the fifth feminist science fiction anthology I've published, it's the first to include a story about abortion. I'm thrilled (and somewhat relieved) that it's Gretchin Lair who broke the ice on this difficult topic. "Accident" bears her trademark sensitivity, realism, and unflinching ability to go right for the heart of the matter.
Read on for her interview answers:
Tell me about your story in Bikes Not Rockets - what inspired it?
"Accident" could almost be a version of of my last story, "Signal Lost" [in Biketopia] in a darker parallel universe. In both, I am only writing about 10 minutes into the future, bringing current events to one of several possible conclusions. For "Accident," I was inspired by the efforts of the Jane Collective to provide underground abortion services before they were legal. But because nobody in "Accident" can speak openly about what is happening or what they really want, compassionate listening and empathy are as important as direct action.
Also, I once collided with a woman on a bike trail. The fall broke her arm and I have felt terrible about it ever since. So I wrote this story from her fictional perspective.
Your stories—this will be your fourth in Bikes in Space volumes, with a fifth in edits for the next book—are all incredibly emotionally astute while also well-grounded in detailed and believable technical contexts. A common thread is that all your characters manage to circumvent a system of some sort—from the circuitry of the empathic bicycle in your first story, in volume 2, to the suffocating patriarchy of "Accident." Can you talk a little about where your ideas come from and what you hope readers take from these stories?
Wow, thanks! Those are definitely the kinds of stories I would like to be writing!
One of the major themes in my own life is finding ways to resist coercion and expectation. They come in many forms, some of which seem benign (or even beneficial, via incentivization). They self-limit the choices people feel they are allowed to make given their circumstances. So I like writing about pinch points, the moments when people realize there are more choices than they've been led to believe, or are living through the consequences of stepping slightly outside expected behaviors.
What does bicycling mean to you?
Freedom, exhilaration, independence, discovery, accomplishment, companionship, wonder, poetry, magic. Basically, everything good and worthwhile.
Do you have any projects you're working on or involved in that you'd like to share?
Bikes in Space provides the best motivation for me to write! Every new call for submissions makes me doubt I can write anything to fit the theme (especially zombies!), but then I find an emotion or a story I want to explore and am always pleased at the result (especially zombies!). Bikes in Space gives me the opportunity to write what I want to see in the world. So I'm looking forward to your next idea.
Anything else you'd like to say?
Thank you! And thanks to everyone creating better alternatives for people who don't even know they need them yet!
You can read Gretchin's newest story by backing Bikes Not Rockets! If you already have, thank you -- you're in for a treat!