Blog Tour: Interview with Ceillie Simkiss: Neurodivergence, Literary Influences, and LEARNING CURVES

Welcome to the second stop on the blog tour for the release of contemporary queer novella Learning Curves by Ceillie Simkiss! (That’s an Amazon affiliate link. The first stop is over at May Contain Spoilers.)

Elena Mendez has always been career-first; with only two semesters of law school to go, her dream of working as a family lawyer for children is finally within reach. She can’t afford distractions. She doesn’t have time for love.

And she has no idea how much her life will change, the day she lends her notes to Cora McLaughlin.

A freelance writer and MBA student, Cora is just as career-driven as Elena. But over weeks in the library together, they discover that as strong as they are apart, they’re stronger together. Through snowstorms and stolen moments, through loneliness and companionship, the two learn they can weather anything as long as they have each other—even a surprise visit from Elena’s family.

From solitude to sweetness, there’s nothing like falling in love. College may be strict…but when it comes to love, Cora and Elena are ahead of the learning curve.

Learning Curves is absolutely the sweetest thing I’ve read in a long time. It’s f/f, Cora’s asexual, both leads are neurodivergent, and the degree to which they pay attention to and care about each other’s wants and needs is positively delightful to read.

This stop on the blog tour is an interview with Ceillie about neurodivergence and literary influences in the context of Learning Curves:

1) Almost the first thing we learn about Cora in Learning Curves is that she has ADHD, including hyperfocus at inconvenient moments. Almost the first thing we learn about Elena is that she overthinks things: a classic symptom of anxiety, which we later learn Elena has. Clearly neurodivergent representation is important to you as an author: why?

I was diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety and depression at age 12. I was told at the time that I would grow out of the ADHD and that everything else would “resolve itself” with therapy and medication. I didn’t learn that I was autistic until a decade later when I read Neurotribes by Steve Silberman. I don’t think before then I’d read anything that had any neurodivergent women in it. I wanted to write a romance that I could see myself in, and that is what I wrote in Learning Curves, literally.

2) In what ways did Learning Curves shape up differently because Elena and Cora are explicitly neurodivergent than it might have if they were merely coded neurodivergent, or were actually neurotypical?

I honestly could not tell you. Cora and Elena were always neurodivergent. It wouldn’t be their story if they weren’t. I wanted to make their diagnoses explicit for those of us who need to see that representation in our fiction. I don’t even know if I could write someone that’s neurotypical. I haven’t managed it so far.

3) What authors, and/or what stories, influence you the most, either generally or for Learning Curves specifically?

See, the fun thing about questions like this is that you immediately forget every single author and story you’ve ever read. I think one of the biggest influences on my work in general would be Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small and Circle of Magic series. They’re both so full of love for the other characters in the story and build a world that always brings me back to it. I hope that someday I’ll write something that’ll stick with people the way her work does for me.

4) Cora describes her pleasure-reading tastes as “fun – magic, dragons, queer people”. Can you recommend a few of Cora’s favorite stories?

I think that Cora would love Tamora Pierce as much as I do, but some newer, less problematic stories she would love include Minerva Cerridwen’s The Dragon of Ynys, all of Cindy Pon’s work, and S.A. Chakraborty’s The City of Brass. I also think that she would enjoy Alyssa Cole’s A Duke by Default, which is a stunning romance featuring an ADHD heroine who I think Cora would get along with famously.

While Elena isn’t as much of a fiction reader, I think she’d love Ijeoma Oluo, Morgan Jenkins, and Lydia Kang’s nonfiction work. When it comes to poetry, I mentioned Sarah Kay in Learning Curves, but she’d also love Rose Lemberg and Eve Ewing’s work.

5) Tell us something exciting about your next project.

I added a list of Works In Progress to my author site, which I think is exciting. I think that readers who loved Learning Curves will love how absolutely queer my next-to-be-finished project, A Knight to Remember, will be. It’s inspired by Zendaya’s Met Gala 2018 dress, and I think you’ll all find it delightful.

Ceillie Simkiss is a queer writer of all stripes based in southern Virginia. She is also a blogger, public relations professional, and freelance writer. She has bylines at sites like Culturess, Global Comment, and Let’s Fox About It, in addition to her self-published novella Learning Curves.

She started writing fiction as an escape from her day job as a small town journalist, and has been at it ever since, with the support of her partner, her dog and her cats.

You can find Ceillie at Instagram, Twitter, and

In Memoriam

Inspired by “Fuck Your Flag” by Sunflower Punk on Splain You A Thing. READ THAT FIRST to put this poem in its proper context.


In memoriam:
A democratic Union
Defense of the commons, of the common people
General welfare–generally, how well we fare
The blessings of liberty
Too many of ourselves
And our posterity

In memoriam:

In memoriam:
All that we who built this nation
—built on the land we stole from those we killed,
built by the backs we broke of those we whipped—
ever claimed the flag stood for

In memoriam:
Sandra Bland
Aiyana Jones
Tina Fontaine
Marsha P. Johnson
Annie Pootoogook
Dawn Crey

In memoriam:
The Stars and Stripes

In memoriam:

This is, I must remind you,
Memorial Day


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She Stands In New York Harbor

She stands in New York Harbor,
where once She greeted those
who came by ship from Europe,
from the Old World to the New.

She stands in New York Harbor,
and has hardly heard a word
spoken in Algonquian
since She gleamed bright-penny hue.

She stands in New York Harbor,
near to Brooklyn, Newark, and
the Bronx: elites of coastal cities—
clearly haven’t got a clue.

She stands in New York Harbor,
and She thinks upon the words
inscribed there at Her feet,
for all the world to view.

She stands in New York Harbor,
Her lamp aloft beside—
is it a golden door?
Can poor brown folks come through?

She stands in New York Harbor,
and thinks that blood runs red
from queer and straight alike,
from trans and cis, from goy and Jew.

She stands in New York Harbor,
and realizes how white
the children are of those
that Ellis Island welcomed through.

She stands in New York Harbor,
a melancholic blue,
and She wonders if the name
of “Liberty” is true.

She stands in New York Harbor,
where once the Poet Laureate
was wise-one Audre Lorde,
who knows what we must do.

She stands in New York Harbor—
did Jefferson set sail
from here to France? Did Sally?
What are we to construe?

She stands in New York Harbor,
overlooking Stonewall Inn:
“What signify a few lives lost
in a century or two?”

She stands in New York Harbor,
reflecting on the truth
of the “tree of liberty”’s
manure and poisoned root.

She stands in New York Harbor,
and refuses to despair.
She’s here for all; She will be,
though that wasn’t always true.
Some find in certain famous words
there’s justice to pursue.
The Declaration? Why, it’s still
there in DC for all to view!


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call for submissions!

Surpassing All the Stars: queer disabled witches speak, an anthology by and for queer disabled witches (edited by Alexeigynaix), seeks sixteen small pieces of witchcraft to tempt people to back the anthology crowdfunding campaign. We want essays. Poems. Memoir. Fiction. Spells. Rites. Drawings. Photos. Songs. Chants. Craft patterns. Et cetera! We want submissions from witches who are at least one of queer and disabled, and we want submissions by 2018 February 18.

Courage: I Remember, I Say Her Name

Brought to you by my Patreon patrons!

CN: dystopia; appalling labor practices; ableism; transmisogynoir; I don’t know if there’s a specific word for anti-genderqueer/nonbinary transphobia; Islamophobia; racism of several flavors; domestic violence; appalling environmental practices; medical malpractice; suicide; anti-Semitism; assorted flavors of murder, explicitly including extrajudicial execution; do tell me if I missed an important note

(Please also note that there was no good way to state in the story that the narrator is a genderqueer demigirl. Thus, I’m putting it here as Word of God.)


“Courage: I Remember, I Say Her Name”
Alex Conall

Continue reading “Courage: I Remember, I Say Her Name”

Pancake Rebellion 2: Maple Syrup

This follows quickly upon Pancake Rebellion and was funded by [personal profile] chanter_greenie.

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chanter_greenie’s prompt:

Building on your pancake revolutionary story of earlier, I wonder… could a few others potentially be involved in the uprising? A chicken farmer or two (eggs, scrambled or otherwise), a chocolatier (chocolate chip pancakes), the people who tap the maple trees…

“Maple Syrup Rebellion”
Alex Conall

Continue reading “Pancake Rebellion 2: Maple Syrup”

Pancake Rebellion (cn: death)

The below story was inspired by Lonespark, propelled by DawnM, and sponsored by depizan, all of the Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings comment sections. Special thanks to Uncle Jeff, who helped with a central fact, and my sister V, who betaed.

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Lonespark’s prompt:

I feel like “Rebellions are built on (fill-in-the-blank)” could be a good writing prompt?

“Some rebellions, they say, are built on hope. That might be true, but if I had to pin it down I’d say this one was built on a fanatical devotion to high-quality pancakes.”


“Pancake Rebellion”
Alex Conall

Continue reading “Pancake Rebellion (cn: death)”

requiromantic, I

I’d never heard the word before.
And yet it seems to fit:
when romance wanes and waxes by
the strength one has to deal.

Am I aromantic? I—
I fell in love once more
with someone with poetic wit,
but nothing came of it.

I rarely think I should explore
a romance; when I feel
a love begin, I find I’m spry—
this word I think I’ll steal.

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requiromantic, I by Alex Conall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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