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What's a Jo Graham book?

I was doing a grant application recently and one of the questions stumped me. "What makes it a _____ book? How would a reader know your work out of all the books in the library?" So I put that question to you: What is a Jo Graham book? What makes it different? How would you guess a book was mine?

Comments

mari4212
Sep. 21st, 2016 11:03 pm (UTC)
I think the central theme of your novels to me has always centered on the question of how do we rebuild. How do we repair and rebuild after the old world has been swept away, how do we find new hope and new dreams. Lydias, Gull, Alma are most directly trying to rebuild and heal their world and themselves. It's almost a different way of approaching post-apocalyptic, instead of reveling in the destruction it's pushing towards the hope and what will wake from the ashes, and how do we best tend it.

But Charmian and Elza are also part of that, of defending the society that is rebuilding, deciding what is most precious to carry forward.

Other things: complicated love and finding new ways to love multiple people, partnership/groups where everyone contributes something different, celebration of multiple archetypes taking on their full adult stature, duty and honor to self/chosen oaths taking precedence over romantic love.

TL/DR: Your novels are like that scene in X-Men 1 where Scott kneels next to Xavier after Xavier has been wounded and promises to take care of the school because that was what needed to carry on.
jo_graham
Sep. 23rd, 2016 02:17 pm (UTC)
Yes! That's an insight. It's a different take on post-apocalyptic. "Who will plow fields that are fallow and plant young olive trees?" Well, you. Because the world ends. And then begins again.

I see that's the thing that they're doing in The Order of the Air too -- none of them can yet imagine the post war world. Nobody can. There's a point where the wave is so close that you can't see the other side of it. But tending their olive groves is the best way to prepare for whatever lies on the other side.

Complicated love. Yes. Yes. Love is always complicated. Even though I think love rules over all.

I love that scene in X-Men. that.
mari4212
Sep. 23rd, 2016 02:32 pm (UTC)
I have so many mixed feelings about the original X-men movies, because I love scenes like that, and I love Xavier/Magneto's complex relationship, but I hate that they sidelined and destroyed Scott and the Scott/Jean relationship to have Logan as the viewpoint character.

Because yes, Scott Summers hits every single bit of my lawful good not lawful stupid character/dutiful hero kink.

I hate most post-apocalyptic stuff because it ends up being disaster porn and an excuse for everyone to act on their worst nature. But your stuff is about how people can rise up and build anew, cherish what was good and then try to make it better. It's like Terry Pratchett's Nation in that respect.
jo_graham
Sep. 27th, 2016 01:38 pm (UTC)
I'm a Scott fan, and I feel like the ensemble doesn't work without him. He's the Cameron Mitchell of the group, and you've got to have him to make it work.

I hate most post-apocalyptic stuff because it ends up being disaster porn and an excuse for everyone to act on their worst nature.

Yes, that. That's the reason I hate new Battlestar Galactica. The original, corny as it sometimes was, was about how even apocalyptic disaster can be overcome if you rely on your friends, on teamwork, on family of choice, and faith. The new one killed every one of those things, including trust, respect for other viewpoints, and democratic process. In the old one, even when the Council made mistakes Adama abided by their decisions because he honestly believed that people had a right to vote for their fate, and he utterly refused to be a military dictator. Apollo (who was very Scott/Cameron) became the single father of his dead wife's son from a previous relationship and was a devoted father. That important relationship entirely disappeared. I could go on. But then I did go on. I wrote Black Ships!
mari4212
Sep. 23rd, 2016 02:37 pm (UTC)
And also, because I forgot the first time I was writing: your characters.

I've said before that I need to see characters like Elza written well and celebrated, because I need to see characters who are not me, who would make decisions and live a life I would never choose in a million years, and I need to see them as good and honorable and empathetic characters that I can believe. Because literature should be about increasing the number of ways to be a valid and honored human being, and expanding the concept of what is needed and welcomed at the table of existence.