For K.C.

There are so many of us who write, and so many voices that get drowned out. I want to tell you about one of them. I want to tell you about my friend K.C. Ball.

She wrote short stories as well as novels, and I edited her collection, Snapshots from a Black Hole. She was talented and terrific at including emotion, while at the same time she was capable of spinning out a shaggy dog story to groaningly effective length.

K.C. was always conscious of time nipping at her heels, particularly after a heart attack where her wife Rachael (literally) saved her life with CPR. At the same time, she was a private and introverted person, not well-suited to the sort of buy-my-book shilling that’s sometimes necessary to be heard over the crowd. She kept hoping for more support from the networks she saw supporting other people, particularly some of the young white males whose work was appearing at the same time that she first started getting published. I met with her a couple of times to go over stories, but as time passed, she seemed more and more discouraged, feeling as though she was flinging work out into the void and not hearing much back.

She was trans, and older than me by a couple decades, and sometimes seemed bemused by the times we live in. I kept urging her to submit her stuff to places like the Lambda Awards, but she was reluctant. “Those aren’t for me,” she said, and I left it at that, albeit reluctantly. She could be a little cranky, a little morose and pessimistic, and sometimes I’d tease her into a better mood, and sometimes I’d let her be. She’d worked as a prison guard, and sometimes her outlook on the world was as cynically informed by that as you’d expect, but her stories were full of heroes and people living up the idea of being better. She loved superheroes.

I ran into her two years back at the grocery store, on Christmas Day, and she seemed pleased that I ran over to greet her. Now I’m regretting not being better about keeping in touch after she fell away from the writing group we shared, despite the fact that we were living so much closer to each other now that I’ve moved to West Seattle.

And now she’s gone, fallen to another heart attack, and she never really got the chance to “break out” the way many writers do, which is through hard work, and soldiering on through rejection, and most of all playing the long game. If you want to read some of her kick-ass work, here’s the collection I edited, Snapshots from a Black Hole and Other Oddities.

I’m so sorry not to able to hear your voice any more, K.C. I hope your journey continues on, and that it’s as marvelous as you were.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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