Step into a world of rogue screen readers, Braille in fantasy worlds, a friend meeting an acquaintance after several years, and more with Artificial Divide. We spoke with editor Robert Kingett about the inspiration for Artificial Divide, the importance of bookstores for Disabled writers and readers, and more!
Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.
The inspiration for Artificial Divide arose because I wasn’t finding a ton of fiction by Blind and visually impaired authors. I’m a big fan of anthologies because it gives me a chance to try authors I wouldn’t find online because everybody else overpowers them on social media. Anthologies allow me to explore writing samples and writing styles without logging onto the internet and I wanted to create a similar package of all kinds of writing. Writing by Blind people, but for everybody, including other visually impaired people hungry to see themselves in fictional stories.
In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?
Many of the authors reading their own stories are reading them in multiple ways, including reading it on a Braille display or repeating what their screen reader says in their ear. This anthology presents authors writing their own way and reading their own way. It does what it sets out to do in the execution: Illustrate to the world that there’s more than one way to be Blind and visually impaired.
Have you listened to your own audiobook? What struck you about the narration?
I’ve listened to my own audiobook, and it strikes me how a human voice, including authors narrating their own work, can bring new life into the story I didn’t immediately catch when editing the story. It also tickles me to realize that I enjoy hearing tiny dots refreshing on a Braille display through the audiobook. To me, that’s a very pleasant experience. It’s a pleasant sound. Come to think of it, I also enjoy immensely listening to people type on laptop keyboards as well.
Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?
I am an avid audiobook consumer! Some of my favorite audio books are King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Calendar, The Autumn Balloon by Kenny Porpora, Punch Me Up to the Gods by Brian Broome, and, of course, everything ever written by Lemony Snicket.
I’m very partial to The Misfits by James Howe and Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar because they hold very special places in my heart in terms of how they got me to look at systemic problems like racism.
I’ll also hold a special place in my heart for Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan because it was the first gay book I’ve ever read.
What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?
Independent bookstores and independent booksellers have been my lifeline, more than once, because they would often assist in promoting my work, including my books and short stories. Most importantly, though, many indie bookstores gave me a place to write, for free, when I’d want to do my own Disability friendly writers retreat. They care about books and authors, and they always have a suggestion for me when I go and shop for audiobooks near me. They’ve gotten to know me, and, by extension, champion me, but many indie bookstores across the country have given safe spaces to other fellow Disabled writers, readers, and more.
I don’t know what I’d do without independent bookstores giving it their all to ensure everybody has something new to read in the comfort of a safe space.
Anything else to share with us?
I blog about what it’s like being Blind in the publishing industry. I’m always looking for more books to keep me off the internet, so don’t hesitate to share some audiobooks you’d think I’ll enjoy. These days, I tend to read a lot of MG and YA audiobooks.