At some point I’ll talk more about the fact that I’m a historian, but for right now I’ll talk about how being one brought my story “With These Hands: An Account of Uncommon Labour” into being.
A few years ago, I worked at the White House Historical Association and they had a small exhibit of paintings by artist Peter Waddell, who specializes in historically accurate works about historic architecture and events. One of those paintings, “A Vision Takes Form,” is about the construction of the White House. In the lower part of the painting were two Black laborers. I thought “There is a story there…”
…so I wrote one.
It was published in FIYAH Magazine’s “Ahistorical Blackness” issue and recently, author Jason Sanford including it in his list of what he thought was the “Best SF/F Short Fiction, January through June 2018.” I’m in some seriously good company! Please read and consider “With These Hands” in the future if you get a chance.
Then I found out it made the Nebula Awards Suggested Reading List! What?! For all of you jaded folks out there, it’s my first time so I’m pretty damn hyped. HYPED, I tell ya. Even if it doesn’t make it any further (although I sure do hope that it does), it just makes me feel good and like I’m not toiling in absolute obscurity.
I’m just going to leave you with this document. It is a 1795 work for hire document from the National Archives for a laborer (and yes, the “U” in my full story title is intentional) at the White House. George was for hire, but was actually enslaved. All I could think of while writing my story were dreams of freedom and what it meant to be free…