It’s the time of year again: The jalapeno lights are twinkling, the plastic reindeer are mid-run on lawns all over America, and the best gifts…
DiYA is going on a holiday hiatus
Hello DiYA followers! Since December is a busy month offline for Cindy and Malinda needs to be a hermit for awhile, we are going on a bit of a holiday hiatus for the rest of the year. We’ll still post new releases, and we may pop in a few times to reblog something, but it’s going to be a lot quieter here for the next few weeks.
So this is a good time for us to say THANK YOU to all of you for following our tumblr and for supporting diversity in young adult books in general. You are all awesome and we’ve been blown away by your support!
Happy holidays and we’ll see you in the new year!
Malinda and Cindy
Characters of Color on the Covers of 2013 Young Adult Novels
- The Girl of His Dreams by Amir Abrams (KTeen Dafina)
- Rumor Central by ReShonda Tate Billingsley (Kensington Teen)
- Rumor Central: You Don’t Know Me Like That #2 by ReShonda Tate Billingsley (KTeen Dafina)
- Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl by Carolita Blythe (Delacorte)
- A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury (Atheneum)
- Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow (Arthur A. Levine Books)
- Echo by Alicia Wright Brewster (Dragonfairy Press)
- Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac (Tu Books)
- Get Over It by Nikki Carter (KTeen Dafina)
- The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross (Harlequin Teen)
- How To Be a Star by M. Doty (Poppy)
- Spirit’s Chosen by Esther Friesner (Random House)
- Since You Asked… by Maurene Goo (Scholastic)
- Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (Simon & Schuster)
- Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez (Drawn and Quarterly)
- Romeo and Juliet adapted and illustrated by Gareth Hinds, based on the play by William Shakespeare (Candlewick)
- The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Arthur A. Levine)
- Tune: Still Life by Derek Kirk Kim and Les McClaine (First Second)
- Star Power by Kelli London (KTeen Dafina)
- Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood by Abby McDonald (Candlewick)
- Hammer of Witches by Shana Mlawski (Tu Books)
- Invasion by Walter Dean Myers (Scholastic)
- Awakening by Karen Sandler (Tu Books)
- Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks (First Second)
- True Story by Ni-Ni Simone (K-Teen Dafina)
- Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan (Putnam)
- Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
Happy book birthday to today’s diverse new releases!
Deadly (Pretty Little Liars #14) by Sara Shepard (HarperCollins)
Book Description: High school seniors Aria, Emily, Hanna, and Spencer have all done horrible things—things that would put them behind bars if anyone ever found out. And their stalker “A” knows everything.
So far A has kept their secrets, using them to torture the girls. But now A’s changed the game. Suddenly the girls are hauled in for questioning, and all their worlds begin to unravel. If A’s plan succeeds, Rosewood’s pretty little liars will be locked away for good… .
Next by Kevin Waltman (Cinco Puntos)
Book Description: In Indiana, basketball is the next thing to religion. Especially for inner-city black kids like Derrick Bowen. He’s a 6’3” freshman, lightning quick, and he can slam the rock. He wants to start at point guard for Marion High, but senior Nick Starks has that nailed down. Besides, the coach is old school. He thinks D-Bow needs to work on his game, his shot, and his attitude. That means bench time. And that’s when Hamilton Academy, the elite school in the suburbs, comes sniffing around. They want D-Bow for the next three years. His mom wants no part of that. But his father needs a job, and Uncle Kid, who is a bitter ex-star at Marion High, has his own plans. Yeah, there’s a pretty girl and a best friend in the mix. Plus plenty of basketball action and suspense just like high school boys like to read.
December always seems like the perfect time for looking back and making lists, so here are nine dystopian/post-apocalyptic books starring people of color:
- Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
- Partials by Dan Wells
- The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
- Tankborn by Karen Sandler
- The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
- Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
- Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
- Proxy by Alex London
- Diverse Energies edited by Tobias S. Buckell and Joe Monti
You can find out more about these books or suggest your own additions to the list over at Rich in Color!
Looking for diverse YA while you wait for Inscription Magazine* to start? So are we! We’ll be listing some of our favorites on this blog, and we hope you’ll add your own!
Diverse Energies is a collection of dystopian sci-fi and fantasy short stories edited by Tobias Buckell and Joe Monti,…
Happy book birthday to True Story by Ni-Ni Simone (K-Teen Dafina)!
Book description: What’s a girl to do when love has her caught up?
That’s the plight of eighteen-year-old Seven McKnight. Her freshman year at Stiles University turned out to be a tug of war for her heart and her sophomore year promised more of the same. Just when she’d sworn off her ex-boyfriend, Josiah Whitaker, and thought she’d never love him again, he boldly stepped back into her life, with no regard that she’d moved on with Zaire St. James, her new boyfriend.
Caught off guard and thrust into a whirlwind of emotion, Seven no longer knows if she should stay or go… All she knows is that old feelings won’t die, her new love is being ruined by lies, and the fairy tale she once dreamed of may never become her true story.
I met Cindy Pon at a dinner hosted by a mutual writer friend. We fell into conversation and she mentioned the Diversity in YA tumblr she helped run.
When I approached Cindy Pon about writing something for Diversity in YA tumblr, I wasn’t sure what I should write about, but I knew I wanted to write something. It wasn’t until my friend and I started blogging our way through Wonder by RJ Palacio, that I even had an inkling of what I wanted to share with the world. Wonder is about a boy with a facial deformity who goes to school for the first time and the bullying he faces because of his face.
Cindy’s response to my email was a) great and b) made me think about the way we write about disability. The last line of her emails was “there’s so little written…” It was in the ellipsis that I found myself stuck. Wonder paints a bleak picture of life as a disabled person and the ellipsis gets stuck in the bad as well. There is so little written about disabled characters, particularly girls and particularly where the disability is natural—that is to say the character was born with it. We’re writers, and we don’t like things to just happen. There must be a reason behind it. Most of the time, for people with natural disabilities, there is no more of a reason than your genes didn’t fire at the right time.
The … felt sad and while I was screaming at Wonder, it hit me, the world seemed confined to the sad story of disability. There was little to no “good” to be found. That is to say, there was no way anyone might think that being disabled could be cool or awesome or allow a person to do something totally rad that no one else gets to do. We don’t celebrate disability like other forms of diversity, even though there is a disability awareness month, people don’t talk about it. There’s no “disability is beautiful” campaign. No it gets better. There are bitter truths to tell about hard to find dates or it doesn’t get better because people will always stare at you and they will teach their kids to stare. There’s a lot of negativity to get sucked into, but I want to focus on the things no one abled will probably ever get to do. It is the ellipsis that you have probably never heard, because so few think to write about it.
This ellipsis is what I am calling: the good.
When people ask me about my life story, I know they expect a sob story. They want to hear about my dealings with bullying or my parents being blindsided by all that is me. Which trust me, I can recount both sad and tragic stories, but those brief blips on my life do not define me and are such a small part of my story. I realize these make great book fodder. There are emotional beats to it, a plot, and a lesson to teach at the end…
But it’s so confining and it takes 300 pages for you to realize that I am human and deserve to be treated as such.
I choose instead to tell friends how I ran the secret service ragged at age 9. How I played foosball with the mother of a president. I tell them about getting suckers out of nurses and demanding red wagons to go to surgery in, just like the book my mother read to me. All of these stories are true and are a direct result of my disability. They would never have happened without VACTERLs Association being a part of my life.
(VACTERLs is an acronym that stands for:
A: Anal Atresia
C: Cardiovascular Anomalies
TE: Tracheosophageal fistula
R: Renal and/or Radial
L: Limb Defects
It is a genetic but not hereditary disease, meaning it was a problem in my genes not something that is passed down from a family member. A person need not have all to be counted as a VACTERLs person. Some doctors say you need 2 out of the 7, others say 3, and some doctors have no idea what you’re talking about and take you at your word.)
These stories have the potential for awesome stories as well. I mean how many 9-year-olds are exposed to the Secret Service so young? Hmmm? Okay, so not everyone with a disability does this, but without it I would never have had the chance to try.
As a child, I ruled over a castle with underground passage ways, rooms of books and a limitless time to read in between appointments, chandeliers of twisting green and yellow blown glass, and art as far as the eye could see that I wouldn’t learn until later was the product of some of the masters of their craft.
Did I mention this magical, mystical place is was hospital? No, oh well, it was that too. A world with one foot firmly planted in science and another in art, creating a hybrid of the two. It’s a world waiting for exploration and kids with disabilities are your tour guides.
Invested in this good, is also just plain, ordinary good. I went to school, pre-K through my MFA. I celebrated 21st birthday, with the help of an extra large liver—yes, sometimes there are good side effects. While I have yet to meet a boy who wants to “date” me, and I’ve never been kissed—lord the things I confess to the internet—I have had some amazing experiences in life that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I know my pain tolerance is higher than the average human, and if people annoy me I can easily gross them out and send them on their way real fast. Talking about pins through your arm attached to screws is a great way to get out of unwanted conversations.
I suppose if I could tell a writer anything, the story of a person with a disability isn’t any more of a sob story than any other person’s. We just happen to spend more time in a hospital and can speak doctor relatively well for never going to medical school. We adapt fast, smoothing over discrepancies between us and a world not made for us. So when you fill out your cast of characters, dig a little deeper when including someone with a disability, they can take you places you’ll never forget and probably places readers have never been.
While the ellipsis at the end of Cindy’s email seemed sad, almost disappointed, think instead of what lies in that space. It’s easy to think of the bad, but I challenge you to think of the good and dig the story out from there.
Gretchen Schreiber grew up between the hills of Kansas, and the hospitals of Minnesota. After earning her BA in Theatre Arts, with an emphasis on costume design, she went to graduate school as The University of Southern California. She graduated with an MFA in Producing for Film, Television, and New Media this past May. She lives in California where she writes full-time and works part-time to pay her bills. She writes primarily fantasy driven projects about fairytales and questions of ability. You can find her on Twitter at @GretchSchreiber
The Chronology of Shy
I steal a lot. Especially from real life. Sometimes I don’t know if I write books or just plagiarize the world. It’s the same for a lot of artists, I think (check out this great Ted Talk called Everything is a Remix). I swipe ideas from other writers, too. From musicians. From Jerry Springer episodes and NPR programs. I lift scenes from movies and picture books and overheard subway conversations. Sometimes I even steal from myself. That’s how I came about the main character of my new novel, THE LIVING.
Back in my LA days – wow, it’s been almost ten years now! – I had a boring job doing subtitles for movies and TV shows. Best part of the gig? There was a ton of downtime. We had to be there eight hours a day, but I could usually knock down my workload in four. This left me half the day to read and write and throw stuff at people sitting around me (on the clock!). I had just finished writing my first novel (BALL DON’T LIE), and I’d signed with an agent, which meant I was knee-deep in the waiting game. “Don’t cross your fingers,” my new agent said, “it makes it hard to type.” This made a lot of sense, except for the fact that I had no idea what I wanted to type next. So I mostly read. And threw stuff.
I was on a big Russian kick at that time, so I read a ton of fat, epic stories that followed a huge cast of characters. After reading about five or six of these in a row I had an epiphany. What if I wrote an American version of a Russian novel, set in LA? I started taking notes immediately. I sketched out the seventeen main characters and opened up a new file and typed away. Over the next seven months I produced over five hundred pages. The tone was dark. The characters were all sad. I loved it. There was one problem, however. I was almost two hundred thousand words into the thing and the story hadn’t quite started. My agent at the time put it more bluntly: “The problem, Matt, is that I really have no idea what this manuscripts about. Shouldn’t we at least know that much by page 521?”
I re-read the pages. He was right. There wasn’t even a hint of a plot. It was all energy and no function. I decided to start the book over following only one of the seventeen characters. His name was Shy, and he was from a tough, working-class family. He was twenty-six years old and half Mexican (like me!). He dreamed of being a singer-songrwiter, but because of nerves he had trouble playing in front of people. Which was a problem. He was desperate and alone and crazy about the females. He played pick up hoops in his downtime. He closest buddy was an older black kid who was an aspiring director. I renamed the novel SLIGHTLY OUT OF TUNE. It had more direction this time. And I liked that it was racially conscious without being about race.
When I found out BALL DON’T LIE sold to Random House I damn near lost my mind. “It’s going to be released as a young adult novel,” my agent told me. “That’s sick!” I kept shouting at him over the phone, jumping up and down. “That’s completely sick!” When we hung up I dipped into a nearby bar, solo, and downed a double shot of Patron (a nod to my old man). Then I went home and googled “young adult.” I’d never heard of it before.
I was only three fourth of the way through SLIGHTLY OUT OF TUNE when my new editor at Random House started asking me about ideas for a second YA book. I pitched her the book I was working on, but she said it was too old. I then pitched a book about a half-Mexican kid growing up near the border who was a good baseball player. He believed his dad had left the family because his son wasn’t Mexican enough. He was whitewashed. My editor acquired this story, and I immediately started working on what would ultimately become MEXICAN WHITEBOY. I was a working writer now. A dream comes true. But I had also abandoned poor Shy (for a second time).
After every book I’ve finished since, I’ve flipped through the pages of SLIGHTLY OUT OF TUNE, trying to figure out how I might make it work. But in all honestly, the book isn’t as good as I once believed it was. It has heart. I’ll give it that. And there’s a LA-specific desperation I still like. But the plot wasn’t strong enough. And I was trying too hard to be a “writer.” I still loved the character, Shy, though. I promised him I would one day find him a home.
When I finished my fourth novel, I WILL SAVE YOU, I decided it was finally time. I swiped Shy out of the music book and put him in a short story about a kid and his sick dad. The machismo vibe in their relationship made it hard for them to communicate their feelings about the situation. So they didn’t communicate at all. I found that the seventeen-year-old version of Shy was a better character than the twenty-six-year-old version. (The story was eventually published by One Teen Story.) After writing the shorter piece about Shy, which I viewed as a trial run, I started brainstorming a novel-length story for him. It had to be big this time. The quieter stories I tried hadn’t work. Then it hit me. The “Big One.” The massive earthquake we Californian’s were all secretly worried about. To force Shy to interact with extremely wealthy folks for the first time, I had him land a job working on a luxury cruise ship. He’s in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when the earthquake actually hits. This creates havoc on the ocean. And he’s forced overboard. It’s bad.
On November 12, 2013, THE LIVING hit book stores. Shy finally exists in a published work. He’s in the world. It’s been a ten-year journey for me and my guy, Shy. But we never gave up on each other. I’m excited for readers to meet this kid out on his fateful cruise.
I still remember when the name first hatched in my head. A girl I was dating back in LA (a half Mexican girl from a family very similar to mine) told me a story about her dad and her brother. Sometimes when her brother screwed something up, her old man would lash out at him with this old-school saying: “Look at you, boy! Don’t know shit from Shynola, do you!” Eventually her dad started calling her brother Shynola for short. He thought it was funny. And then he shortened it even further, to Shy. I still remember exactly where I was when she told me that. We were at a place called Temple Bar in Santa Monica. A band was about to play, and the musicians were tuning their instruments. “He really said that to his own kid?” I asked. She nodded and told me, “That’s my dad.” Shy, I thought. Shy. Before the band finished their first song, I knew I had to steal that name. And the story that went along with it. I just didn’t know it would take me ten years to finish the play.
Matt de la Peña is the author of five critically-acclaimed young adult novels: Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here, I Will Save You and The Living. He’s also the author of the award-winning picture book A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis (illustrated by Kadir Nelson). Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship. de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn NY. He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country.