The Book Launch

Our sexuality is heavily distorted in literature. Fictional bisexuals are duplicitous or mentally unstable, their sexual preferences metaphoric clues to split personalities and untrustworthy lovers, so the publishing of a decidedly bisexual novel is cause for celebration. Just such a novel has just hit our shelves.

At small table in front of Waterstone’s current top 40 bestsellers sits ex-teacher and poet Sue Vickerman. There are more people in her audience than room to seat them, all drinking wine and eating butterfly buns baked by the author’s mother. They are here to celebrate the publication of new novel Special Needs.

‘We live in a society that doesn’t like creative people,’ she says, ‘if you’re creative, you’re a loser’. But Sue Vickerman is anything but a loser. She has an M.Phil which, she says, is good for holding up a bed with a missing leg; her first pamphlet, Shag, was published in 2003 and followed by full length poetry collection The Social Decline of the Oystercatcher in 2005. Special Needs is her debut novel.

It’s easy to be sceptical about first novels, and especially ones from small time publishers like Cinnamon Press, but when Vickerman stands to read any fears are allayed. She reads two passages, admittedly not much, but enough to get a flavour of narrative and style; they are astute and witty, hinting at a forthright friendliness in the authors voice and a modernist realism that suggests that this is not your average bisexual narrative.

Special Needs is, according to the publishers blurb, ‘[a] tour de force about family, race, sexual identity, lesbianism and life at the chalk-face […] alive with larger than life, but thoroughly credible characters. Whether this is true remains to be seen, and fingers are tightly crossed.


Special Needs is published by Cinnamon Press. £8.99.