I still have access to all of my Livejournals back to 2001. It’s … bizarre. This is a really nice piece.
I have been rereading my old livejournals for the past few weeks, which has either been really good or really bad for the depression I’ve been going through. I expected to see a really, really angry young girl and instead I found a really desperate but really honest and observant one. I also found that I had entirely different standards for anonymity and Internet safety and self-preservation. I haven’t decided whether then or now is better.
Please tell us about the most recent diverse book you published.
I recently published Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott. This novel is about Sam, a Mexican American teen who’s in a depressed state due to the breakdown of his family. He’s pretty much getting by in life by being a slacker, always remaining under the radar so he can fade into the background. But then he’s paired in English class with the much feared Carlos, a Latino who is said to be in a hardcore gang. Together the two team up in a poetry slam contest and emerge, after much introspection and hard work, as very capable, talented students. It’s a book about breaking boundaries and stereotypes, as well as friendship, tragedy, and the power of words.
What is one factor holding you back from publishing more diverse books?
Nothing is holding me back from publishing diverse books — it’s very much something that I feel passionate about doing. I don’t feel I see enough submissions about diverse characters just living in the world and experiencing life through strong storytelling. In other words, submissions where the story is the story and the characters just happen to be Latino or African American rather than their diversity driving the storyline. I tend to see more agenda-oriented books on the topic and these can be harder to position and market, and are often less appealing to young readers.
Bolded for emphasis. Amazing and informative interview! But…
What does ‘diversity driving the storyline’ really mean? The traits that fall under the ‘diversity’ umbrella are things that always influence and drive people’s real life storylines, in both subtle and less subtle ways…
Reblogging for the important commentary from Rich in Color.
Umm. It’s kind of easy, actually. Part of the problem with answering the question is the phrasing of the question itself. We need to move away from the term “diverse,” at least when talking amongst the choir that needs no (or at least less) preaching, and say what we mean: we want stories in which there are fully realized, “diverse” (meaning something other than white AND Christian AND able bodied AND neurotypical AND upper middle class AND heterosexual, because most protagonists in most books have all of those criteria satisfied) characters that just have stories, and these characters necessarily have their identities as perhaps non-white and/or perhaps non-Christian and/or perhaps differently abled and/or perhaps queer, etc etc, inform the story, but the story itself is not primarily or only about confronting opposition to that identity or about teaching the “non-diverse” (jesus christ if one more person says that phrase I will start throwing out punches and they will be DESERVED - you are NOT helping, people) reader how these “diverse” (oh gawd) people are actually human people just like them!
So no, it’s really not hard. Stories. We want stories. Period. We just want them to represent the wider world, which means including characters who have complex identities that come out of marginalized communities. And then they should be in fully realized stories. Not Lesson Stories. Not Issue Stories. Not Agenda Stories. Just fucking books that aren’t the same old status quo.
Every time I see someone make the argument that representation in fiction isn’t a big issue, and that advocating for diversity is just a waste of time because audiences can identify with anyone, and anyway, trying to include a wide range of backgrounds is just tokenism, I have…
This. This this this this.
I ACTUALLY DIDN’T I DIDN’T LIKE SADDLE CLUB AT ALL I FOUND IT REALLY ANNOYING
I READ ANOTHER SERIES THAT WAS LITERALLY THE SAME BUT IT HAD “PONY” IN THE TITLE AND IT WAS SOMETHING RIDICULOUS LIKE PONY TALES OR PONY TRAILS I DON’T CARE I DON’T KNOW I HAD A MILLION BOOKS AND THIS ONE HAD GHOST PONIES, SADDLE CLUB NEVER FUCKING HAD GHOST PONIES THEY JUST HAD THAT ANNOYING RICH GIRL OR SOME SHIT