I recently volunteered to be one of three judges for a writing conference in South Carolina. I just finished reading the big box ‘o stories and novel excerpts yesterday. Having spent some time with writers in South Carolina, I wondered if there were any stories by people that I knew. There were no names on the entries, however.
I was riffling through the entries and I found one that looked familiar. In fact, I remembered reading it before…nine years ago at a castle in the Netherlands. It was the first chapter of a novel by a Canadian woman who was living in France. This woman, Lise Leroux, already had a contract for her first novel, which she’d sold with only a synopsis to Penguin. I later read the book, One Hand Clapping, and I thought it was brilliant. She called it a “contemporary fantasy,” and it involved, among other things, a woman who grew hands on her body after they were grafted onto her.
I didn’t really think about this much before, but upon reading a review the other day in an online disability-related publication, I discovered that the woman in the story is autistic. I wasn’t as invested in writing about disability when I first read it, but I intend to read the book again with this in mind.
In the meantime, I wish Lise the best of luck in finding a home for her second book. (I withdrew from the judging of her story because I had preconceived notions about its greatness.) She is immensely talented and her first book was nominated for the Orange Prize. Finding her entry in a box of submissions from South Carolina reminds me that I should take nothing for granted. Getting one novel published does not guarantee that my next one will be. Humbling, but true.