Guest Post by Asphyxia
My book, Future Girl, is the art journal of a Deaf sixteen-year-old, Piper, who lives in near-future Melbourne just as it lurches towards environmental catastrophe. It covers themes that I am extremely passionate about – the high risk we face of environmental disaster, art journaling for self-expression, and Deafness. For a long time I have believed it wouldn’t take much for the world as we know it to change dramatically in the face of a crisis, and part of what I wanted to do with Future girl was highlight how very possible this is and the need for us to develop resilience and to prepare for such scenarios. At the time, my publishers actually asked me to pull back as the world I had created went too far, they thought. We were putting the final touches on the book when coronavirus hit, and we all looked at each other and said how utterly spooky it was that the book reflected so very closely what is going on now, today. I think the truth is that scientists have known this kind of crisis is heading our way, for a long time, but it’s hard for the public to wake up and see how precarious our world is. I hope that now we all have first-hand experience of how dramatically a crisis will change our world, reading Future Girl will help people see how easily another crisis could tip things over as well. Resilience and preparation will help us be ready for all kinds of potential future scenarios. I have been passionate about art journaling for many years and have shelves full of my own art journals. I wanted to create an art journal that was simultaneously a novel, and the result is Future Girl. Although I am confident as an artist and know how to create a pleasing composition on a canvas, I found it extremely difficult to get elements to look ‘right’ on the page. I’d take the elements I wanted on the page, but would spend hours moving things around and making them larger and smaller before I found the magical balance I was searching for. With full colour art on every single page, this was a huge job, but by the last hundred or so pages I was working faster, and I realised that something had ‘gelled’ within me. It took eight years to create the book!
With Deafness, I wanted the reader to experience on a visceral level what it actually feels like to be Deaf. I also wanted to depict the Deaf community, because very few people know that Deaf culture even exists. Parents whose baby is diagnosed as deaf by medical professionals do not realise that there is a Deaf community out there. If they knew, it could transform their grief about their child’s ‘defectiveness’ into delight that their child will receive an automatic passport to this wonderful community. The most striking difference between the Deaf community and the hearing world is that we celebrate Deafness, while the hearing world tends to view it as a problem that needs to be fixed. We love our language, as it is expressive and poetic and delightful. We are so direct – there is no need for the euphemisms and careful politeness that is needed to navigate hearing culture – we just say it like it is and that’s okay. While in the hearing world, people feel sorry for me when they realise I am Deaf, in the Deaf community I have a high status and no-one would dream of feeling sorry for me – instead people want some of what I have. In Future Girl, you get to go with Piper on her journey as she meets the Deaf community and discovers that she already has a passport to instant friendship and warmth.
Future Girl by Asphyxia is published by Allen and Unwin, and available to purchase from all good booksellers.
Any opinions expressed may not truly reflect those of the FCBG