In this installment of Author Showcase we chat with Dr. Nick Walker. She is an author, educator, and futurist, best known for her book Neuroqueer Heresies and her work on neurodiversity and Neuroqueer Theory as well the wildly creative web comic Weird Luck.
Q You work as both a fiction author and a professor or psychology how does each of these occupations affect the other?
My psychology background informs my fiction in all sorts of ways. I’m a character-driven writer, meaning that instead of trying to make the characters follow a plot, the plot emerges from me putting the characters into a situation and then seeing what they do. That means I end up thinking a lot about the psychology of each character, because character-driven approaches to writing only produce good stories when the author understands the characters and allows them to act in ways that are authentic to who they are.
There are also more specific ways in which my work in the field of psychology shows up in my stories. One of my favorite recurring characters in my stories, Bianca, is a telepathic alien predator who currently works as a psychotherapist. It’s a lot of fun writing a character who by human standards is downright evil, but who’s also exceptionally skilled at psychotherapy and cares about doing her job well.
Oh, and I wrote a short story once where the villain was an alternate-reality criminal mastermind version of Sigmund Freud.
Q You have a continuing series, Weird Luck, set in a very diverse universe, what inspired you to start the comic?
My dear friend Andrew M. Reichart and I have been writing stories since we were in high school, which was a very long time ago indeed. Over time, this evolved into a whole shared universe in which all of our fiction takes place. All our stories interconnect with one another, though sometimes in very oblique ways, and we eventually started referring to this whole body of interconnected stories as the Weird Luck Saga.
Andrew started publishing some of his own fiction about a dozen years ago, and a few years later I started publishing mine. And at some point I got inspired to create a webcomic which Andrew and I could write together, and which would bring together a lot of disparate threads and characters from our prose fiction. And fortunately, the spectacularly talented artist Mike Bennewitz, who’d done the cover art for Andrew’s first self-published books, was up for collaborating with us––in fact, he’d been looking for a good epic tale to turn into a comic, and had fallen in love with the Weird Luck Saga.
The comic’s only just getting started, by the way. We’re still finding our footing as collaborators, Mike’s already-fabulous art evolves further with every page he draws, and we’re still setting the scene and introducing the main characters of what’s going to grow into a multi-volume epic.
Q You use the term Neuroqueer to describe what you think the future should be, could you explain what that would look like?
Neuroqueering is the art of creatively playing with one’s gender, embodiment, cognition, and consciousness, in ways that ignore, subvert, or transcend societally-imposed norms. So a neuroqueer future is one in which vast numbers of people have come around to the view that gender, embodiment, cognition, and consciousness are fluid media for creative experimentation and expression, which they can continually sculpt, modify, and customize.
Q What are some other queer or neurodivergent authors in the world of academia or fiction you think deserve more attention?
There are so many! Everyone should check out the work of Dora M. Raymaker, particularly her novels Hoshi and the Red City Circuit and Resonance. Also Ada Hoffmann.
And of course, my longtime collaborator Andrew M. Reichart, whose fiction is all part of the Weird Luck Saga. Andrew’s old self-published novels are coming back into print in new revised editions from Argawarga Press, with the original Mike Bennewitz cover art. Watch for the upcoming new editions of his City of the Watcher trilogy, which ends about three months before the Weird Luck webcomic begins. My favorite book of his, the psychedelic thriller Wallflower Assassin, is already re-released and widely available. Spoiler warning, though: Wallflower Assassin is the one piece of the Weird Luck Saga published so far that takes place after the storyline of the Weird Luck webcomic!
Most of all, I’d urge everyone to check out the annual Spoon Knife multi-genre neuroqueer lit anthology, which serves as a showcase for some of the most interesting, leading-edge queer and neurodivergent authors (including both well-established authors and new emerging voices). The first volume was pretty amateurish, but it’s gotten steadily more impressive over the years and has started attracting some major talents. I recently co-edited Spoon Knife 7 with my fellow author Mike Jung, and I’m currently co-editing Spoon Knife 8 with the brilliant mad autoethnography scholar Phil Smith.
Q What is your next project you are working on, is there going to be more stories set in the Weird Luck universe?
Oh, yes, there are so many more Weird Luck stories coming! As I mentioned earlier, the comic’s just getting started. I think readers will be blown away by how the plot’s going to develop. I’ve got a couple more Weird Luck short stories in progress, and plans for more. They’ll probably make their debuts in upcoming volumes of Spoon Knife, but at some point I’ll need to collect them all in their own book.
On the academic front, I’m currently in the early stages of putting together a Neuroqueer Theory anthology which will probably come out in late 2024. Got a couple of book chapters in the works for academic tomes being edited by colleagues of mine, too. In the long run, though, I aim to increasingly shift toward fiction. I’ve got at least one Weird Luck novel planned, but that’s years away.
Q} if people want more info about you or your projects where should they go?
Visit the Weird Luck webcomic site at https://weirdluck.net for all things Weird Luck (including a list of books in which Weird Luck prose fiction stories can be found). For my nonfiction, go to https://neuroqueer.com.
Q) When the zombies take over the world where will you be?
In my view, the zombies have already taken over the world, so I guess I’ll be right here.
Q ) What is your favorite Fandom
My favorite fandom is Weird Luck fandom. It doesn’t really exist yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing it develop. So eager to start seeing Weird Luck fanfic, fan art, and cosplay!
Q) What piece of art, be it in the form of music, a book, a film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?
Anything really good that’s far enough outside of their own particular bubble that it expands their mind.
Q) Give one fact that most people would not believe about you?
I’ve found that I’m one of those people about whom most people will believe pretty much anything.