s p i t k i t t e n . c o m

Caren Gussoff Sumption
science fiction writer, geek, bon vivant

I'm a speculative and literary fiction writer, living in Seattle, WA with my husband, the artist and data scientist, Chris Sumption, and two cat-children, Molly Bloom and Paul Atriedes.
Born in New York, I attended the University of Colorado, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Clarion West (as the Carl Brandon Society's Octavia Butler scholar) and Launchpad Astronomy Workshop. I'm also a Hedgebrook alum (2010, 2016).
I'm a Unitarian Universalist, a feminist, fat, and identify as a mix race person of color.
I love serial commas, quadruple espressos, knitting, the new golden age of television, and over-analyzing things. My turn offs include ear infections, black mold, and raisins.
You may want to know about my day job, which I also really love: I am a peer and crisis intervention/diversion counselor with special interests in time-limited, trauma-informed care with folks who have co-occurring mental and behavioral disorders, and/or chronic pain. I'm proud to be a part of Crisis Text Line and the Downtown Emergency Service Center teams.
For more complete (or abbreviated) writing bios, please download my media kit (.zip, 11MB).

 

I primarily use Twitter for news and promotions. However, you can also find and follow me on:

FAQs

How do you say your name?
KAH-wren GUS-awf SUMP-shun. I don't use a hyphen between my last names.
Anything I've contracted or published before 2016 will probably just be credited as Caren Gussoff. I officially added my married name, professionally, on 1/1/2016 (though I have been married for more than 10 years).

Why do you get pretty adamant about saying you write science fiction?
I'm actually fine with being called a speculative fiction writer (and call myself that as a shorthand for all I do within genre, as opposed to "straight" literary fiction). And while I have written fantasy, horror, and even mystery (my Channillo series, "Last End," is a traditional "cozy" mystery), I primarily write "medium-hard" science fiction. I'm obsessed with space travel and first contact, and while I use these topics to play with identity politics, my work is usually based on sound -- if not truly speculative -- science. It's gotten much, much better in the past few years, but there are still people who assume because I'm female-identified, I must write fantasy or soft, anthropological scifi.

What's a Didikai? Why do you describe yourself as one?
Didikai (diddykay, didicoy) is a Romanichal word for a Romani with mixed blood. I am of Kaderash, Russian, German, and Jewish ancestry, with a itty bit of English/Irish hiding in there, somewhere.

You talk a lot about ankylosing spondylitis. What's that?
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS, or, "affectionately," spondy) is an inflammatory arthritis that involves the spine and sacroiliac joints. I wasn't diagnosed until my late thirties, because spondy is, historically, overlooked in women, though research and awareness is changing that.I have varying levels of chronic pain in my spine and left hip, and I occasionally suffer from flares. During flares, my pain increases, and my mobility decreases. I get headaches, stomach aches, low-level fevers, and fatigue. I do talk a lot about AS in social media because it affects my daily life. Additionally, I also have psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (pretty common BFFs of AS), and am in recovery from bipolar depression and C-PTSD.

But you look healthy!
I take that as a well-meaning compliment! Aside from my psoriasis, which is usually mild, my conditions are "invisible disabilities". There's a sometimes moment of shock when folks first see me using a cane during a serious flare -- I can go from scampering around freely to having limited mobility quickly, when I have a flare. The same happens with my depression: like others with depression issues, I can lose my balance if I'm stressed, overtired, or generally not taking care of myself.

Why "spitkitten"?
The moniker "spitkitten" dates back to my early days on the Internet. I wanted something, girly-punky-funny-cool-yannowotimean? -- it was the very early 90s -- but, more importantly, easy to remember. Whatever nickname I wanted first had already been claimed, so I tossing around syllables. And a happy accident manifested my portmanteau.
It's still easier to remember than my name, and, at this point, I've have had it for so long that I don't think I could ever shake it -- even if I wanted to.

I'm a beginning writer. Will you read/edit my _____?
Apologies in advance, but: no. I don't read unsolicited manuscripts, and rarely take on editorial or critique work outside teaching the occasional workshop. If you are interested in finding out when I teach, drop me a line and I'll add you to my mailing list.
The good news is that there's awesome places you can get feedback/beta-readers and further instruction:

Publications

Current projects

Chapters posted monthly "The Man Who Sold The World": A Last End mystery At Channillo.com
Researching A Fine Girl A biography of astronomer Annie Jump Cannon
Drafting Games A science fiction novel

most recent books

Available at most major retailers.

Three Songs for Roxy

The Birthday Problem


Stories, anthologies, and books

I'm not including URLs for web pubs because they change so rapidly. If there's something you want to find, but can't: please contact me.

present - 2009

  • 'Anything Chocolate' in Best of Abyss & Apex 2, edited by Wendy Delmater (2016)
  • 'Spring Forward' in Black Static (2016)
  • 'Peculiar Institution' in The Beast Within 4: Gears and Growls, edited by Jennifer Brozek (2015)
  • 'Bars of Orion' in Interzone (2014)
  • 'Black Friday' in Fiction Vortex (2014, voted Editor's Choice for July, 2014)
  • 'Dandelion Girl' in Geek Force Five, Vol. 2 (2014)
  • The Wave and Other Stories, Tenth Anniversary Edition (Eastlake & Roanoke, 2014)
  • 'Ring Little Bell, Ring' in A Krampus Anthology, edited by Kate Wolford (2014)
  • 'Deus Ex Machina' in Black Apples (2014)
  • 'As They Get Warmer, They Give a Little' in After The Fall, edited by Alex Davis (2014)
  • 'The Cure' in Handsome Devil: Tales of Sin and Seduction, edited by Steve Berman (2014)
  • 'Cicada' in MISERIA’S CHORALE, edited by David Nell (2013)
  • 'Across the Universe' in Song Stories: Dark Side of the Moon (2013)
  • 'Section iii' in Dark Fiction (“Under The Hollow Hills”: Episode 14: 2013)
  • 'Emeritas' in Mad Scientist Journal (2013)
  • 'Anything Chocolate' in Toasted Cake (2013)
  • 'No Substitute' in Witches, Stitches, and Bitches, edited by Shannon Page (2013)
  • 'Proving Up' in Shades of Blue and Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War, edited by Steve Berman (2013)
  • 'Free Bird' in Bloodchildren: Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars, edited by Nisi Shawl (wa available only until June 22, 2013, Octavia’s birthday, as a fundraiser for the Carl Brandon Society)
  • 'As They Get Warmer, They Give a Little' in SKEW, edited by Ben Lehman (2013)
  • 'Pretty Maids All in a Row' in Daughters of Icarus, edited by Rose Mambert and Josie Brown (2013)
  • 'The Devil and the Lawyer' in Varney the Vampire: A Literary Remix, a GalleyCat project edited by Jason Boog (2013)
  • 'Glasses Guy' in Synthetic Biology for Human Health (SYBHEL) e-Book Project — project sponsored by the European Commission on Science and Society (shortlisted entry: 2013)
  • 'The Moon Illusion' in mixer (2012)
  • 'Games' in Destination: Future, edited by Z.S. Adani and Eric T. Reynolds (2010)
  • 'Emeritas' in Daikaijuzine (February, 2010)
  • 'Anything Chocolate' in Abyss & Apex (1st quarter, 2010)
  • 'Correspondence' in Birkensnake 2, (2009)
  • 'As They Get Warmer, They Give a Little' in M-BRANE SF #5 (2009)
  • 'The Ghost of Henry’s Past,' 2nd place winner in Fantasy Magazine's May 2009 Micro-fiction contest
  • 'Basic Biology' in Cabinet des Fées (2009)
  • In Thaumatrope (Twitter Microfiction): “Astronaut” (July 20, 2009); “Mutt” (August 27, 2009); “Mother” (August 30, 2009)
  • 'Section III' in Abyss & Apex (4th quarter, 2009)
  • 'Pretty Maids All in a Row' in M-BRANE SF #12 (2009)
  • 'Wanda’s Watching,' winner of A Poor Mojo’s 'Worst Possible Cover Letter' Rant in Poor Mojo’s Almanac(k) (Summer 2009, Rant #455)

2008 and earlier

  • in Fucking Daphne: Mostly True Stories and Fictions (Seal Press. 2008)
  • in Tied in Knots: Funny Stories from the Wedding Day (Seal Press, 2006)
  • in Inappropriate Random: Stories on Sex and Love (Seal Press, 2003)
  • in the Gotham Guide to Writing Fiction (Bloomsbury USA, 2003)
  • The Wave and Other Stories (Serpent’s Tail, 2002)
  • in Strictly Casual: Women on Love (Serpent's Tail, 2001)
  • Homecoming (Serpent’s Tail, 2000)
Want to get in touch? I'm at caren at spitkitten dot com