Two iron structures stand against a dead, orange sky.

Book Two

Two summers ago at about three in the afternoon on a Wednesday I sat down on my balcony, opened my laptop, and wrote “Under the city there is another city that has always been there.”

I can’t remember exactly what pushed those first few words onto the page or what I thought I was doing when I did it. I do remember that I was making a world for a little girl, who I named Enneaka; and that within a paragraph or two I had made her too, and put her into that mirror city underground, and that she’d started to run around, chasing the light. So, I began to follow her wherever she wanted to go.

I liked the rhythm and the metre of the thing, so I kept going. I picked away at it, day after day that August, a few hundred words at a time, never setting objectives or limits on any of it, just saying to myself that “I’ll write till I feel like I’ve written what feels right” on any given day.

In a couple of weeks’ time, I had a chapter. The chapter was 9,000 words. (The number 9 seemed important — hence Enneaka’s name; hence the loose schema I scribbled out in my notebook of a total of nine chapters, not an outline, because next to each chapter title there was only a “theme,” nine of them.)

I didn’t know what to do with any of it — I didn’t know what “it” was, or if “it” was actually an “it” — but eventually, it became itself, and then, so did she. My girl. Enneaka.

Then the snows came and Enneaka went to sleep and I lost my mind a little and then I quit my job and suddenly it was spring, and she was still there. My girl.

So, I picked up after chapter one and kept going, picking away at it still, a bit more robustly this time, maybe a bit more than “I’ll write till I feel like I’ve written what feels right,” although that was still the guidance. At some point in the intravening year I’d acknowledged that the nature of the work, the thing that had made it feel so joyful the summer before, was simply following my inner voice wherever it took me (and Enneaka); that was before I realized that, in some way that felt important, Enneaka was my inner voice. And that I was letting her out, for the first, real time — people who know me as “loud” will find that notion amusing — and letting her tell her own story about how all this came to happen.

Some things naturally worked themselves out in the writing. Environmental anxiety. What it’s going to be like here in our world, after. One chapter was written under the wildfire smoke last June, when the sky was Mars-orange. I wrote about video game avatars from my childhood, Pomma from Below the Root, and what it all meant, and how they lead all the way up to my doll collection. I wrote a lot about bullying — vile, gendered bullying — and what it did to me as a child, and what it does to me now.

Then there was what I’ll call “the night with all the lightning,” not a chapter of the story but a night in my real life involving episode 2×7 of Yellowjackets, a late night sensory-deprivation experience, and the most profound sense of prolonged gender euphoria I had (yet) then experienced.

All in a rush, I understood that in Enneaka, I was writing the story of my bigender identity, and that it was something (and so was she, and so am I), and that I was damn well going to finish and publish this book, and that people were going to read it.

Just shy of 100,000 words, Enneaka is my second book and my first novel. It migrates me as a writer from non-fiction to fiction; I left a bit of the scaffolding up, so there are two chapters (of nine) that are personal essays in which I excavate pieces of my own history, which go on to inform the seeming fairy tale that is unfolding in parallel with Enneaka, who has been flushed out of her mirror city underground into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Then the non-fiction and fiction strands merge together and, well, good things happen.

Some stuff from the query package:

“A queer coming-of-age novel wrapped in a seeming fairy tale about the end of the world, Enneaka considers bigender identity, environmental anxiety, and video games through the adventures of a young girl.”


“The novel plays with its queerness by shifting form from chapter to chapter, rooted in the fluidity of the protagonist’s experience. It contains elements of fictional narrative, post-apocalyptic YA, speculative fiction, and autobiographical essays. An omniscient Narrator tells the tale, but must eventually consider his own upbringing in two essay chapters; the heroine undergoes what seems like a fantasy adventure, before breaking into our ‘real’ world.”


“I’m a bigender Toronto-based screenwriter, video artist and film critic. My stories and criticism work with queer and marginalized identities, pop culture as a direct cultural reflection, and (inevitably) tween girl superheroes.”

The fact that I’m calling myself a bigender anything right now should show you how far this process has brought me. Of the rainbow (ha!) of options available in our beautiful, evolving language, it’s the one that feels closest to what I’ve pulled out of myself.

I’m still feeling it out. I’m using “he” and “she” pronouns currently. I’m contemplating telling you all how I’ve always hated my nickname, and what I’ve realized I might do to it.

I have a publicist / one-woman cheering squad and little else on the publication process for Enneaka, so I’m going to start querying potential agents next week. You might get an email on that subject in the next few days, as I search for contacts. Or you might want to reach out to me directly, if you already know something and want to help.

I truly can’t wait for you to read this entire story.