All About Corbett and Fading Scars

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Hi, Corbett Joan OToole here. Each month we’ll feature a different Reclamation Press author. Since it’s my birthday, I got to go first. Here are some fun facts and some not-well-known facts about Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History and Corbett Joan OToole (me!).



1. The only reason I wrote Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History is because Elizabeth (“Ibby”) Grace asked me to write a book. Writing a book alone is really hard work but Ibby and Naomi kept me focused.

2. Naomi Ortiz, my writing buddy and author of Sustaining Spirit: Self-Care for Social Justice, read every word of Fading Scars at least twice. She’s also responsible for getting me to write the chapter on Race and Disability.

3. The reason for the current wild book price of the book on Amazon ($400) is because it went out of print in late 2016 so only a few books are still around.

4. The original Fading Scars has a 20 page index that I paid for (with the help of friends) because there was no budget for an index but I believed the book needed one.

5. Fading Scars has footnotes on nearly every page and all of them are online sources. As someone who does not have any academic affiliation, I cannot read the articles in most journals because you need academic access to them. As I wrote the book I wanted to share the journey with the readers and other scholars. Using free online sources meant they could read all the research I found.

I also used a lot of footnotes because, while my writing states facts that are widely accepted in disability communities, those facts are often disparaged by outsiders. I wanted to show the research basis for my ideas and opinions.

Book cover with close-up photo of artist Sandie Yi wearing homemade latex shorts and hand splints

Fading Scars (2nd edition) book cover. Close-up photo of artist Sandie Yi wearing latex shorts and hand splints. that she made Book cover design by Selene dePackh

6. The new Fading Scars (2nd edition) will have a new cover, new opening chapter, new Foreward from Karen Nakamura, new Publisher’s introduction from Ibby Grace and new order of chapters. Thanks to reader feedback, the second edition is stronger than the original.

7. Many of my friends don’t find reading enjoyable for disability and other reasons. If they wanted to read Fading Scars then I wanted it to be as easy as possible. I built in three structures to each chapter: A one paragraph Summary at the beginning of the chapter; a Just the Facts, Ma’am section that summarizes the three main points of the chapter; and the top three Resources. I used footnotes rather then endnotes because they said it was easier to have the information on the same page. I am very grateful for their teaching and advice.

8. Fading Scars was a Finalist in the 2016 Lambda Literary Awards, which is a very big deal in the book world. So Ibby, Ariane Zurcher, Elaine Gerber and I got all glammed up and went to the awards ceremony in New York City which was tons of fun.

Photograph of 4 women dressed up in fancy clothes. Next to them is a sign for the Lambda Literary Awards.

Photograph of 4 women. Clockwise from top left: Elizabeth “Ibby” Grace, Ariane Zurcher, Corbett OToole, Elaine Gerber

9. Fading Scars went out of print in late 2016 so it was ironic that it was selected as one of five Suggested Books by the Women’s March in 2017.  Here’s the whole list:

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, Edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa
Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks
The Miner’s Canary by Lani Guinier and Gerrald Torres
Reflecting Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History by Corbett Joan OToole

10. After Fading Scars went out of print, Ibby Grace and I decided to start Reclamation Press which is a huge project but I’ve met many wonderful people. It’s a journey I never expected to take but my brain’s happy to be learning so much new information.




~ I am really old. Yesterday I turned 66 years old which in disability years is like turning 86 years old.

~ I’m a jock. I played wheelchair basketball in my 30s and 40s and played power soccer in my 50s. My idea of a fun Sunday afternoon is yelling at the football /basketball / soccer players on TV.

~ I’m a writer. My first big writing project was No More Stares which I dreamed up with Vicki Lewis and Ann Cupolo. Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History is my first solo book.

Colorful large quilt showing 8 disabled women of color: Alana Wallace, choreographer; Kathy Martinez, US Ass't Secretary Dept of Labor; Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth; writers Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldua, Amy Tan; Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller; former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan

Disabled Women of Color quilt

~ I’m an artist – mostly a quilter. I created the Disabled Women of Color quilt which was in numerous art shows. I like to make quilts for friends. My public quilts tend to be about violence against disabled people.

~ When I was 42 years old I became a mother to a disabled child. Going through menopause while my daughter was going through puberty made both seem easier.


~ When I’m not working, I’m an introvert who likes to stay home and cook. I also have a romantic bent.

~ I’m a major nerd about all things related to disability equipment. My idea of a good time is hanging out with a disabled person trying to figure out how to design a 30 pound electric wheelchair that can come apart and go into a car.

~ I’m great with big ideas and really suck at the detail work. If you want to dream up an interesting project, I can plan the whole thing out. But someone else needs to keep to keep track of the budget details (especially the paper receipts).

~ I am happiest when I’m in, or near, water.

~ Like nearly all permanently disabled people, I am really poor. I spent most of my life ashamed talk about it but in recent years I’ve started to discuss economic inequalities and how it impacts disabled community scholars like me.


Since I cannot personally fund Reclamation Press, my Birthday Wish is to get the Reclamation Press books funded so that the new books are out in the world ASAP. Please support out Indiegogo campaign which goes live September 5, 2017

These days the easiest way to find me is at Reclamation Press.

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