Cera wants love. Tiresius wants power. As Unmales, both are lower-class citizens, only existing to serve men. 

This is life in the world of Autokrator, the debut novel from Toronto-based author and screenwriter Emily A. Weedon. The novel is a sci-fi dystopia with elements of a thriller, but the idea was born from a time in Weedon’s life when she felt trapped.

“I was stuck in a condo with a two-year-old and was slowly losing my mind,” Weedon says. While living in Hungary with her ex partner, not speaking the language and not knowing anyone else, she quickly began to feel isolated. Her partner was working long hours, and she was often caring for her child alone, still coping with a heavy wall of postpartum depression.

“I was cooped up and feeling reduced to my role as a mother and a domestic caregiver,” she says. “Becoming a mother forces you to bifurcate your life in ways you just don’t expect are going to happen.” 

She turned to writing to keep her sane, diving into what she was feeling, crafting a world far beyond the walls of her tiny condo— something “sweeping and epic and Shakespearean.”


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In the speculative world of Autokrator, women, or ‘Unmales’, serve men from the shadows, their rights stripped away and their reproduction strictly controlled. Two women— Tiresius and Cera, rebel against the oppressive, patriarchal regime of the Autokrator, one to rise in the ranks, and one to reunite with her son. They are both deemed gender criminals, a fate punishable by death. 

While reminiscent of tales like 1984, Game of Thrones, and The Handmaid’s Tale, Weedon wasn’t setting out to write a dystopia, just a “ripping good story”. But soon, she realized that her novel, a chilling tale of a world where women have no rights, was beginning to mirror what was happening in our own world.

“We’re at a really interesting moment in time when Autokrator comes out. We’re certainly seeing autocracy rising around the world. We’re also seeing a real devolution of women’s rights. We’re racing ahead with technologies that impact us as human beings… where’s all of this going to lead us?”

Weedon tells us the book’s themes were born from a lifetime of reckoning with the discrepancy between what society tells us about equality versus the reality of life as a woman.

“I was born in 1971, and I was told by everything around me—Sesame Street, my teachers, you name it— you’re a woman and you’re equal. Then I arrived, and I was like, ‘where is my equal future I was promised on a silver platter?’”

Weedon has lived many creative lives: she’s been an art director and graphic designer, a set painter, a prop master. For many years, she was a singer-songwriter, playing music professionally and releasing 3 EPs. 

Her screenwriting break came in 2018 with the web series Chateau Laurier, following a young couple’s romance in 1912, set in the historic Ottawa hotel. The period drama racked up millions of views and earned Weedon and her co-creator a Canadian Screen Award for Best Writing in 2023. 

But writing Autokrator, and her upcoming thriller novel HEMO, has fulfilled her in a new way. 

“What I love about the art of being a novelist is that you spend real time getting inside other people’s heads and lives and careers,” she says. “There’s a unique type of cultural and informational synthesis that happens…writing lets you really explore this incredible world we live in.”

 As an intrinsically creative person, Weedon’s wheels are turning constantly. Her drive and hunger to create are palpable, her artistry is infectious. Her advice for younger creators? To hold on to that spark. 

“Make sure what you’re doing gives you such a fire in the belly that you can’t stop it. It should be the kind of thing that keeps you up at night. If you feel that that isn’t there, it’s important to find out what does give you that feeling.”

But the reality of working as a writer, especially right now in Toronto, is not always glamorous. 

“The reality is, I’m a single parent. I have a kid. I had an elderly mother who passed away recently. I’m classic sandwich generation. I’m trying to keep a roof over our heads and the phone just won’t stop, the emails won’t stop, the notifications won’t stop. So it’s really a question of viciously carving out chunks of time.” 

In between those precious chunks of time, for Weedon, are small moments. When something clicks. When an everyday task leads to a delicious nugget of insight into a character…that’s her idea of creative bliss.

“Those moments of insight that get you so excited that you will put dinner aside and run to the computer and write it down as fast as you can…I live for those moments.”

Autokrator is out now, available online and in bookstores nationwide.