“No Other You” by Ross Showalter appeared in Issue 26 and can be read here.
We’d love to hear more about this story.
“No Other You” started as a writing exercise in a fiction workshop at Portland State University. My professor, Gabe Urza, had us read Claire Vaye Watkins’s “The Last Thing We Need”, which is a series of letters to a mysterious man and I loved that story. Then Gabe gave us an assignment of writing in alternate forms—and I got the letter form. I wrote the first two pages of what is now “No Other You” and turned it in. After I graduated from Portland in 2019, I discovered the exercise sitting in my Documents folder; I finished it, polished it, and sent it out.
What was the most difficult part of this story?
As a deaf-disabled person myself, I was careful about the language I used to describe Cait’s point-of-view about disability. I wanted the language to show her lack of experience with disabled people and how she evolves. At the same time, I didn’t want Cait’s ignorance to overshadow the rest of the story, so I tried to pick language that showed her viewpoint without making her overtly malicious.
Recommend a book for us which was published within the last decade.
I love Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic so much. It’s a book that really emphasizes the idea of disability as an identity that holds power and agency; after reading the book for the first time, I really felt like I could write stories with flawed, powerful disabled character because of what Ilya does in Deaf Republic. Whenever I feel lost in my own work, that book is the first one I turn to.
If you could have a drink with any living author, who would it be? Why?
Sara Nović. I want to pick her brain on writing novels, because that seems like such a colossal task. Plus, we could talk shit about the ableists we encountered in our workshops.
What are you working on now? What’s next?
I’m honestly just working on different stories and getting them out there. This year, I committed myself to really exploring disability and ableism in every story I write, and it’s been productive so far. Maybe in a couple years, I could put together a short-story collection about disabled people and ghosts; if I do put it together, I hope it finds a place in the world.
Our thanks to Ross for taking the time to answer a few questions and share his work. Read Showalter’s short story, “No Other You” here: https://www.sequestrum.org/fiction-no-other-you.
Ross Showalter’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in places like Strange Horizons, F(r)iction, Cape Cod Poetry Review, Hobart, Portland Review, and elsewhere. Showalter is a graduate of Portland State University’s B.F.A. program in creative writing. Showalter lives near Seattle.