The most rewarding experience at the RT Booklovers Convention is meeting other readers who inspire. Luda Gogolushko, founder of INCLUDAS Publishing, is one such individual. From her bio (link),
Luda holds a BS in Recreation and a MA in Communication Studies from California State University of Northridge (CSUN), where she conducted an auto ethnographical study entitled, “Negotiating Space: An Autoethnography on Wheels.” The study found that: the chair is accommodated, but the person is segregated; the world is designed for the able-bodied population by the able-bodied; spaces and places hold nonverbal signs that either hold messages of exclusion or messages of inclusion; language and signs that are used to label someone as ‘disabled’ are inaccurate.
Born with muscular dystrophy, Luda Gogolushko has lived her entire life with limited mobility. Losing the full ability to walk at age nine, due to gradual weakness of the muscles, she has never stopped dreaming big. There is nothing easy about living life for someone who uses a wheelchair in a world run by the fully mobile-bodied population, but she is determined to present a different way of living, understanding, and interacting with the world.
“My goal is not to reshape perspective, my goal is to restructure thinking because that is when a new sense of culture begins to emerge.”
Kim: We love travel here at SOS Aloha! California - what is your favorite sight, sound, and smell of the Golden State?
Luda: I am currently in southern California and I love the warm weather to go swimming, the freshness of outdoor hiking, and the sounds of the crashing waves on the beach.
Kim: I enjoyed meeting you at RT - what inspired you to attend RT? What were your expectations? What did you learn from RT?
Luda: RT 2017 was actually my second RT, and last year my first, conference as a newbie trying to research and get an understanding of the book world, with not much thought that is was a romance convention, but I learned a lot, nonetheless. This year was to learn even more, experience the culture of romance land, and see some old faces from last year. I attended a few socials, sessions on the business side of things, publishing trends, and tips of strengthening writing.
Kim: Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are buzz words in our society today. What do those words mean to you? How can readers promote EDI in their every day lives?
Luda: Equality, diversity, and inclusion are current hot topics, and a few years when the buzz first started, I was excited because for once I wouldn't have to fight to be included. But I quickly learned that that did not mean inclusion for someone with limited mobility was part of that buzz, so it wasn't hard to spot the need for advocacy for the disability community. In sum, for me, EDI means fostering a safe space for everyone to feel welcomed and valued at. Readers can promote EDI by every day interactions of treating everyone with respect and kindness, because at the end of the day, we're all humans who have feelings, emotions, and dreams. The minute that segregation--whether mentally, socially, or physically--transforms into integration, we can be a stronger nation, together.
Kim: Tell us about INCLUDAS Publishing - how can we support you?
Luda: INCLUDAS Publishing is a press dedicated to representing authors who identify with a particular ability status, as well as main characters (or content of a book, in general) of a story who have a disability. Support comes from being open and excited about diversity because I personally am always not sure how the public will react or not react; will it be of importance to them at the end of the day or not? If someone wants to get involved with INCLUDAS or its mission, send an email to inquiries [@] includas.com (or of course, if you want some cool swag and braille stickers).
Kim: What's next for Luda Gogolushko?
Luda: The next big adventure is going to the SCBWI conference in July, in Los Angeles (kid's book stuff, since majority of our books are kid's related). We are also looking for submissions for a cookbook project (info at includas.com), so submit if you have any recipes or kitchen accommodation tricks. And of course, getting ready to launch our first few books next year.
Mahalo, Luda, for joining us today! I am giving away a sample of books and swag from the RT Booklovers Convention. To enter the giveaway,
1. Let's chat about Luda's home state of California - what do you love about the Golden State? I enjoyed my visit to San Diego last summer - just gorgeous!
2. Comments are open through Sunday, May 28, 10 pm in Baltimore.
3. I'll post the winner on Monday, May 29.
Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City
A seagull in La Jolla ....