About - The Short Version
Chris Kuell is a writer, editor, and advocate living in Connecticut. A former research
chemist, he lost his sight as a result of diabetic retinopathy. He learned how to use a
computer with speech output and turned his efforts to writing. His essays and stories have
appeared in a number of literary, and a few not-so-literary, magazines, journals and
newsletters. He has edited several books and anthologies, and is the editor of Breath and
Shadow, an online literary journal of disability culture and ideas.
About - The Long Version
I decided to write this section in first person because I like the conversational tone and to
make readers feel like we’re getting to know each other—even if it is a bit one-sided.
I grew up the third of six kids on the outskirts of Cincinnati, and while I could titillate
you with stories of cigarettes being put out on our bare skin, or trips to revival tents and
snake-handlers—they’d be lies. The truth is, I had a good childhood. I had parents who
loved us and did their best with us, trying as that could be at times. I went to school and
played sports and had friends and did lots of stuff I’d never admit to in a court of law. In
other words, a normal, to use a controversial word, childhood. I developed diabetes when
I was in fourth grade, which catalyzed some lasting reflections about existence, but
otherwise life was good.
I met my wife in college. The story of our love started with Cesium and beer, but you’ll
have to wait until I write a memoir to learn more about that. We were both Chemistry majors at what was the University of Lowell at the time. From there we went to the University of Vermont for our PhD’s, finally settling in Connecticut. I lost my sight somewhat gradually between 1995 and 1997. At the time we had two young kids, and it turned our worlds upside down. While I felt pretty sorry for myself, I
also started developing a practice of gratitude. I had the best person in the world to guide
and support and push me into becoming a capable, competent blind person. And my kids
were the two best reasons to pick myself up when I fell.
My brother Mike was the first person to actually suggest I try writing. Of course, I
ignored his suggestion. Another thing about me—I’m very hard-headed.
I got involved with the NFB and wrote a few opinion pieces and essays for The Braille
Monitor and local newspapers. I began reading audiobooks. Devouring audiobooks,
both fiction and nonfiction. And out of that came more writing.
In 2002 I was in the end stages of renal disease when my brother David volunteered to
give me one of his kidneys. Words can’t possibly express the gratitude I have for that
gift. Every single morning I touch that scar and thank my brother, and the universe, for
giving me yet another day to experience life in this realm.
I joined Breath and Shadow—a journal of disability culture and ideas—as an assistant
editor in 2006, and took over as editor-in-chief in 2008. It’s rewarding work that has
taught me a lot about the struggles my fellow humans face, and helped me make a
number of great friendships along the way.
I spend a lot of time alone reading and thinking and occasionally turning those thoughts
into writing. Sometimes they come out pretty good, and sometimes not. In the past 20
years I’ve written over 100 short stories, dozens of essays, and three novels. You can
click here to preview and purchase my latest, Morris, a collection of stories about people
struggling with life and work and relationships, and a guitar who is there to witness the
highs and the lows.
What else might a reader want to know about me? One thing that’s fairly obvious from
my writing is that I love food. I’m an adventurous eater, and I love to try my hand at
cooking a wide variety of dishes from around the globe. I’m not a quick cook by any
means (I think of it as being mindful) but more often than not, I put out some pretty good
I’m also a wine enthusiast. Sure, I love a $150 bottle of a special reserve from Bordeaux,
but I’m just as thrilled to taste a delicious Malbec from Argentina or a California Cab that
was on sale for $11. I’ve been making wine at home for the past six years or so, which is
one of the ways I keep the chemist alive in me.
I’m a sports fan, a church-goer, I participate in several volunteer activities, and I enjoy
spending time with my family. Given the choice, I’d go for a walk on the beach with my
wife or simply sit out on my back patio with a cup of tea and a good book, soaking in the
sunshine and disappearing into a good story over most anything else.
That’s pretty much who I am. You’ll find bits and pieces of me scattered throughout my
fiction and essays. I like to write about regular people and the struggles we all face as
humans. Sometimes we make good decisions, and sometimes we don’t. Either way we
have to keep going, deal with the consequences, and hope for the best.