Maria Dahvana Headleyis creating Monsters, Myths, and Reasons for Living
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This tier gets you all the unlocked monthly dose Spitfire posts, plus all new monthly doses of fury and analysis, both political and personal. I love to talk about the world we live in, and the ways that our world, and the stories we tell, can be better analyzed to improve things. I want to give you one liners and ocean liners. It's a portal into my daily dance of roars. You've seen my tweets, most likely. This is the longform.
This tier gets you the above monthly dose of my own fury and analysis, plus all Fireball and Spitfire posts unlocked, plus a writing exercise to spur your own creation of some world change and rewiring of the system.
This tier gets you the above good stuff, plus unlocked posts at all tiers here and below, plus I make a monthly video answering questions submitted by patrons, and, you know, I talk to you giddily over your devices, telling you stories for a while. I love to talk. If you know me in person, you know that sometimes the best things I manage to say are the ones that just fall out of my mouth. Then, usually, I forget them totally, which is embarrassing. This time, though, you can save them, and if they're dumb, we can all be haunted.
I'm Maria Dahvana Headley. I've been story-making for more than twenty years, in all the forms and genres you can think of, from novels to nonfiction, poetry to theater to screenplays to memoir (The Year of Yes) to short stories (you may have seen them in a bunch of Year's Bests - including Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, in which I had two stories last year!) to myth and monster novels for adults (The Mere Wife, Queen of Kings) and teenagers (Magonia & Aerie). My work has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy, Locus, Shirley Jackson, and Nebula Awards, and I'm a New York Times Bestseller.
I'm writing the revolution, these days, as hard as I can, in a bunch of forms. I have a YA novel gestating, as well as a couple of TV projects, an adult novel, a nonfiction book...yeah. Same as I ever was! Every form, every genre. The way we tell stories contributes massively to the ways we make borders, create monsters, and justify injustice.
The work I've been doing in the past few years is in this story-shifting realm - in 2018, with McD/FSG, I published the novel The Mere Wife, a contemporary adaptation of Beowulf, set in the American suburbs. It's about how we build walls to keep the "Other" out, and about how those walls make everyone into redacted versions of themselves. It's about poverty and rage and race and police violence, about toxic masculinity, queerness and longing and the ways that women have participated in making damning power structures, even as they kill us. In short, it's about Now.
In 2020, I have a new translation of Beowulf coming out, also with FSG, and that's a project dealing with the way the female characters have been consistently treated in translations. It's about how the Anglo-Saxon poem, Beowulf, was, to begin with, a text for shouting out in rooms full of drunk people. It's about how monsters are catchy, but also about how Grendel's mother is a warrior and fighter, not a creature of darkness, but someone who plays by the rules and in grief and anger seeks lawful revenge. It rhymes and alliterates, and it's meant to be shouted - because what is more relevant than the old texts, the canon, when we're talking about how we tell stories now? The old stories - and the way they were shaped into certainties - made our world into what it is now.
It is up to us to figure out how to make a new world. A better one.
During my Mere Wife book tour someone raised a hand in the Q & A, and asked a question I didn't know how to answer: "How do we raise our sons?" Given the state of the world with regard to gender hierarchy, I'd like to write about that. Also, I just had a son! He's a couple months old now, and I'm working on some nonfiction about the experience of being a type one diabetic, pregnant and giving birth to him at 42, in a world that hates both women and the chronically ill.
There are so many things I want to write, and this Patreon will help me make time dive deeper in order to write them. It will help pay my rent and health insurance in the months when I don't have a book going in, and help fund the gestation of writing that doesn't neatly fold itself into the commercial landscape. It'll buy diapers too, and that, oh that, is not nothing.
I post on Twitter all the time, but I'm missing the longer form muttering I used to do, and I'd love to do it here. I'll also post writing exercises, scraps of thoughts about other people's work on Revolution - I taught a course on Revolution in Speculative Fiction this year at Sarah Lawrence College, and we read a lot of interesting things about the ways people have failed and succeeded at changing the world. Also...who am I kidding? Sometimes you're gonna get recipes. I love to cook as much as I love to write, and when I asked what I should offer here, lots of people said they wanted recipes.
In short, this Patreon is a tip jar for people who like my work, and who want me to make more of it, and it's also a lab for my own brain projects, notions for how to make myths of monsters work for us, for good, for equality, rather than destroy the world. It's also about love and laughing. What can I say? Writing is, for me, a joyful act, even when it is writing about rage. I want us to survive. Survival is joyful.
Let's change the world together.
If we get there, I will be so grateful that once a year I will throw a party for Patrons, you can eat my cooking, and I'll tell you a story. I'm good at parties. I'm good at stories. I'm good at joy. I'll do joy in person with you who can come, in a major American city.