Announcing an Arthurian Novella From Queer Literary Icon Nicola Griffith

Tordotcom Publishing is thrilled to announce the acquisition of Nicola Griffith’s novella Spear, a glorious queer retelling of Arthurian legend, full of intoxicating adventure, dazzling magic, and true love. Spear will be published by Tordotcom Publishing in collaboration with MCD/FSG. Griffith is represented by Stephanie Cabot at Susanna Lea Associates.

The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveler speak of King Artos of Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court.

And so, brimming with strength and magic, she breaks her covenant with her mother, and rides for Caer Leon on a bony gelding, with mended armor and a stolen hunting spear. On her adventures, she will meet great knights and steal the hearts of beautiful women. She will fight warriors and sorcerers. And she will find her love, and the lake, and her fate.

From the author, Nicola Griffith:

I’ve loved all things Arthurian since I got my first library card but the Matter of Britain was so white, straight, male, Christian, class-riddled, and nondisabled that I never felt there was any room for me. But when an image dropped into my head—a cave, a girl, and a woman in red armour—I saw how I could write a short story that takes the myths and legends of first millenium Britain and blends them with real events, like mass migration and the multi-ethnic Roman occupation of Britain, to make something new.

But I hadn’t reckoned on the sheer energy and joy that reworking the myth I’ve known all my life would unleash in me. Instead of a short story, what roared out in just 17 days was a short novel in which Arthur’s companions are not all white and nondisabled, the grail is very much not what it seems, and Caer Leon/Camelot is queer six ways from Sunday. What takes centre-stage is not a Hero’s Journey about winning but a Heroine’s Journey of, yes, winning—slaying monsters, human and otherwise—but also of connecting: finding one’s people, a place to belong, to call home.

From the editor, Lydia Zoells of MCD:

Like everything that springs from Nicola Griffith’s proverbial pen, Spear is an utter delight to read. It swept me away instantly into a lush and magical medieval world, pairing rich and lyrical writing with a fast-paced plot. What I love most is the way it takes us back in time, hewing close to the medieval Welsh romances and Irish mythology that inspired it, while also telling a story about gender nonconformity and queer belonging. That story is as timeless as any dragon-slaying or homeward journey, even if it’s not often told that way.

Spear will be available from Tordotcom Publishing in April 2022.

Nicola Griffith is the author of the novels Ammonite, Slow River, The Blue Place, Stay, Always, So Lucky, and Hild as well as the multimedia memoir And Now We Are Going to Have a Party. Her books have won two Washington State Book Awards, the Nebula, Otherwise/Tiptree, and World Fantasy Awards, and six Lambda Literary Awards. She is the founder and co-host of #CripLit and co-edited of the Bending the Landscape series of original queer fantasy/science fiction/historical stories. A wheelchair boxer, Griffith holds a Ph.D. from Anglia Ruskin University and is married to writer Kelley Eskridge. She is a native of Yorkshire, England, and now lives in Seattle.


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