top of page

Chatting with Julia LaFond

Julia shows how to help fight for disability justice, her experience with car warranty spam calls, balancing writing multiple forms, being a professional game master, working with Knight Writing Press, and more.

Chatting with Julia LaFond

Julia LaFond got her master’s in geoscience from Penn State University. She’s had flash fiction published in venues such as Worlds of Possibility, The Martian Magazine of Science Fiction Drabbles, and Twenty-two Twenty-Eight. In her spare time, Julia enjoys reading and gaming. Website:

Julia is the author of “First Contact” from Radon Issue 6.

Q: Did your inspiration for “First Contact” come from your personal experience with car warranty spam calls?

Partially! During my master’s in geoscience, I took a course about the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). While I was learning about research into how extraterrestrials might try to contact us (and we might try to contact them), I was also getting the aforementioned spam calls. So it wasn’t that much of a leap for my brain to make the connection between the two.

Q: How do you balance four types of writing: poetry, nonfiction, short fiction, and flash fiction?

The short answer is that I don’t. But if you’d like a little more insight into my process, there’s two relatively simple categories my writing can be divided into: stuff I’ve been hired to write, and stuff I’ll have to shop around. The former takes priority for obvious reasons, and the latter depends on how much time and energy I have left over. Of the four categories listed, I find poetry and flash fiction the easiest to squeeze in.

Q: In what ways have you used your geoscience master’s to inform your fiction writing?

My master’s was in geoscience with the focus in astrobiology being a holdover from when I was pursuing a dual-title PhD in geoscience and astrobiology (suffice to say I had a change in plans). In any case, the knowledge I gained certainly helps when I write science fiction, as does my training in finding and parsing quality sources when I care to do the research rather than Make Stuff Up™. In addition, my coursework in science communication turned out to be highly applicable to genre writing: both require conveying complicated information in as few words as possible without confusing your audience.

Q: How did you come to be a professional game master for role-playing games?

I did an internet search.

Okay, while that is true, I’d already been playing role-playing games since… high school, I think? Might have been early college. Definitely several years, and I also was watching RPG-related YouTube series and running games for friends. After I finished grad school, it occurred to me that running games professionally could be a possibility for supplemental income. So I did the aforementioned internet search and found the Start Playing Games platform. I did the onboarding, joined the Discord, took advantage of events to get additional resources and advertisement, and eventually got some campaigns going.

Q: For those that purchase your DM guidance, what can they expect?

Overall, I’m a collaborative DM: I take players’ concepts and ideas and do my best to incorporate them into the overarching narrative. Same goes for the consequences of players’ decisions (a renewable resource)! As someone who writes plenty of horror, I'm happy to run creepy, thrilling, or terrifying adventures, especially around Halloween. I'm equally excited to run low-stakes shenanigans and puzzle-based gameplay. Sometimes I homebrew, and sometimes I draw on premade settings or adventures. But no matter what, I'll make sure everyone at the table is included and having a good time (even if their characters aren’t).

Q: What was your experience publishing with Knight Writing Press in 2023?

Overall, the editor is very supportive and continues to share opportunities with Knight Writing Press writers. That said, being paid via royalties has helped me realize just how much work goes into marketing books.

Q: How are you currently fighting for disability justice and what can others do to help?

At the moment one of the big things on my radar is the continuing COVID pandemic; I could write at great length about this particular issue, but I’ll try to stick to a few key points:

· Yes, the pandemic is ongoing

· While it does disproportionately impact marginalized groups, including disabled people and BIPOC communities, everyone is at risk

· Every infection, even if it’s “mild” or asymptomatic, can result in Long COVID

· Long COVID is an umbrella term for a range of serious conditions, including heart disease, lung damage, brain damage, a compromised immune system, ME/CFS, and more

· Each time you get infected with COVID, you increase your odds of disability and death

· Getting vaccinated is a great way to protect yourself from bad outcomes in the initial stage of the virus but doesn’t keep you from transmitting COVID

· If you want to protect yourself and your community from the virus, key tactics including improving indoor ventilation and air quality along with wearing and distributing high-quality masks (KN95, N95, or better)

There are plenty of other things going on too (unfortunately), including multiple genocides (which both tend to cause mass disability and also disproportionately impact disabled people), Canada funneling disabled people into MAiD, and climate change (see the explanatory note for genocide). Somewhat niche compared to those but still important is Applied Behavioral Analysis, which is basically conversion therapy for autistic people. Given the range of current challenges, my advice is to pick a few issues, learn about them from affected disabled people, and then fight as hard as possible to make things better. Amplifying information (with alt text! Don’t exclude people who use screen readers!) and contributing to mutual aid funds are also solid options.

On a more writerly note, I often try to use my words to uplift these issues. One example is my poem “The Little Brick Building” in Rising Action Review, which is about ABA and stigma against autistic people in general. Another is my essay “Victim, Villain, Inspiration: The Pitfalls of Disability Archetypes in Genre Fiction,” which as of writing is available to the Patreon subscribers of Seize the Press.

If you'd like to learn more about disability justice, you might want to start with Imani Barbarin (Instagram / TikTok / Twitter), Alice Wong (Linktree), or with this Twitter thread of free PDFs.

Q: Have you found success with readers supporting you directly via Venmo?

Not so much, but I also don’t advertise it much, so that might be partly my fault.

Q: Which of your published works still speaks to you the most?

This feels like being asked which kid is my favorite, so I’m going to hand out a few superlatives instead.

Most underappreciated: “Buzz,” We’re Infested

Bumpiest journey prior to being accepted and published: “Adrift,” Creepy Podcast

Best story about punching Nazis: “The Front Lines,” The Librarian Reshelved (Air & Nothingness Press)

Longest title: A Template for [Emailing / Faxing / Calling] Your US Representatives to Urge Them to Support a Ceasefire in Palestine, Rising Action Review

Longest: Hydropolis, The Future’s So Bright (Air & Nothingness Press)

Q: With over four essays, six poems, and thirty short and flash fiction works published, where do you hope to go from here?

I’m continuing to expand my portfolio, and I’m also branching out into writing for tabletop roleplaying games. In addition, I’m querying the book I workshopped during WriteMentor 2023 and am keeping my fingers crossed that it’ll be the one that gets me out of the querying trenches (don’t worry, I haven’t quit my day job yet).

bottom of page