Hi, I was wondering if you are going to be at Comic Con in San Diego again this summer. I saw your Diversity in YA Fiction panel last year and I loved it! I learned a lot about writing and publishing, and I'd like to hear more!
Sadly no, I won’t be at Comic Con this year, but I’m so glad you enjoyed the panel I moderated there last year! I’ve heard there are going to be some great YA panels at Comic Con this year though, and I’m bummed I’m going to miss them. Maybe next time!
Oh my gosh. I was looking through the list of reblogs from the Wellesley tumblr roll-call thing, and I saw your name. I JUST read Ash - I got it a couple of weeks ago while foraging through sustainable moveout (did they have sustainable moveout while you were at Wellesley?). Anyway, I just wanted to say that I loved it, and I'll definitely be looking around for more of your stuff!
Wow, I just realized I had questions in my in box. This is embarrassing. I don’t know how long ago you asked this, but hey, better late than never?
THANK YOU so much for your kind words about Ash. I’m glad you enjoyed it! You may already have figured this out, but I’ve also written a prequel-ish companion novel, Huntress, which just came out in paperback. It’s not about any of the characters in Ash, but it’s set in the same world.
Re: the Wellesley thing, nope there was no sustainable moveout while I was at Wellesley. Way back then, from 1992-96, we didn’t really understand that we were destroying the earth yet. Or, we might have had a hint of it, but it was before An Inconvenient Truth, which I think really made a lot of people wake up to what is actually going on with our planet. (And in fact I have no idea what a sustainable moveout is, but I’m guessing it’s about sustainably moving out of the dorms?)
Anyway, thanks for your note! Always lovely to hear from a Wellesley woman. :)
I know a lot of people believe that first person is the closest, most intimate mode of narrative, the one that reveals the deepest truth about a character. But as a playwright, I have a different perspective. In a play, every character speaks in the first person, but the audience sees that each character’s perspective is necessarily limited—the world of the play is much bigger than any one individual, and each character can only see her own narrow sliver of what’s around her.
As a playwright, whenever I hear a character launch into a first-person monologue about who they think they are, what they believe, etc., I automatically hear it with skepticism, knowing that the play itself—if it’s any good—will ultimately reveal the holes in that character’s claims. So for me, first person has always been the most narrow mode of narrative, often deluded and self-serving, or at the very least isolated from the world.
Don’t underestimate how much antagonism there is toward women and how many people wish we could turn the clock back. One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don’t take it personally, but listen hard to what’s going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: get back, get back to where you once belonged. When Elizabeth Dole pretends that she isn’t serious about her career, that is an attack on you. The acquittal of O.J. Simpson is an attack on you. Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you — whether or not you believe in abortion. The fact that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court today is an attack on you.
Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. Because you don’t have the alibi my class had — this is one of the great achievements and mixed blessings you inherit: unlike us, you can’t say nobody told you there were other options. Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead. Twenty-five years from now, you won’t have as easy a time making excuses as my class did. You won’t be able to blame the deans, or the culture, or anyone else: you will have no one to blame but yourselves.
I remember being sort of taken aback by her speech when I heard it on graduation day, because it wasn’t full of feel-good “you can do it” stuff. I was 21 at the time and hadn’t lived in the real world yet — not really. Now, at 37, I know exactly what she means. I’m sorry to hear today that she has died.
Every Friday in June, I’ll be listing the YA novels first published in the United States in 2012 that include LGBT main characters. Today I’m covering books published in the third quarter: July-September.
“The first thing to note is that when I wrote Witch Eyes, I did it because I wanted to read something where there was a gay character, and possibly a gay romance, but the book itself wasn’t just a “coming out” book, or a “dealing with homophobia” story. There are definitely places for those stories, but I wanted to see and read something where the character’s sexuality wasn’t the biggest issue in the book. Where it was separate from the plot. I wanted something that I would have liked to read when I was a seventeen-year-old struggling to figure out who he was. Something that didn’t make a big deal about what it meant to be gay, or how hard it was going to be, just a book that said “okay, so just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you can’t go fight demons.”—Author Scott Tracey, interviewed for my YA Pride series
Over Memorial Day weekend, I attended WisCon, the feminist science fiction convention, in Madison, Wisconsin. I did a couple of panels there, including one called “De-Gaying and Whitewashing: What Publishing Trends Mean for Writers.” Here’s the program description:
Can radically feminist and anti-racist works survive the “gate-keeping” process? Is there room in the mainstream for works that dramatically challenge the status quo? In the past year or so, the twitto-sphere has been abuzz with hashtags like “YESGayYA” and “YASaves”. Articles about the “de-gaying” and whitewashing of YA literature have raised people’s ire and ignited a volleying of retorts from writers and reviewers/agents/editors. Let’s talk about some of these perceptions in publishing and what they might mean for writers, particularly those who want to challenge commonly held notions and beliefs.
The panel was moderated by the very capable Mary Anne Mohanraj, and the other panelists were author and professor Andrea Hairston, Tor editor Liz Gorinsky, and author Neesha Meminger. At the beginning of the panel I wrote down something that Andrea Hairston said that I think is very important. She asked us to focus on how we can make change without making blame.
[H]eteronormativity plays a larger role, a more significant role, I think, than direct homophobic bias against novels with LGBTQ identifying characters (or themes, situations, etc). This isn’t to suggest that such bias mightn’t also occasionally be present, but I just don’t think it’s nearly as prevalent. …
Though things are changing for the better (unquestionably, to my mind), I think it’s still true, widely, that anything that confronts or confounds heteronormativity is immediately “othered” (as in it’s considered “different,” “not the norm,” “its own thing,” “weird” — you get the idea) by many, many people. So if a novel has a queer character, say, even folks who might embrace that character or storyline or what-have-you often will still “other” it, as in recognize it as something “other than” what is heteronormative, as “oh, that’s the novel with the lesbian romance” or the one with the “bisexual football player,” etc.
In other words: the novel’s LGBTQ content so often becomes its primary identifying feature. Thinking of heteronormativity as most people’s default assumption/stance can be a useful way of getting a handle on it.
Sometimes thinking like this can be useful for marketing, say, or finding a particular audience, but when we think about how books are selected for publication it seems obvious, to me, anyway, that this kind of binary thinking — this privileging of that which is heteronormative — is much more responsible for fewer LGBTQ books/characters than is overt homophobia.
Today marks the first day I’ve sat down to work on revisions to the sequel to Adaptation. Just like when I was writing the rough draft, I’ll post on Tumblr every day I work on the revision, as part of my plan to document how long it takes me to write this book.
So, today: Revision Day 1! What did I do? I sat down and read my editor’s editorial letter. Typically the first time I read an editorial letter, I feel like this:
So I have a process. Today I meditated before I sat down to read the letter, in order to open my mind to the letter. This might sound weird, but I’ve noticed that (like many people, probably) I often approach criticism defensively. An editorial letter is totally helpful and absolutely vital, but it is also criticism. In order to fully understand what my editor is saying, I have to at least be open to hearing it. So, I meditated first.
Then I read the letter once through quickly, letting myself have whatever knee-jerk reactions I might have. After that I read through it again more carefully, this time highlighting portions that I thought were especially important. Then I wrote in my writing journal about my thoughts about the letter. This whole process took about an hour.
That’s all I did today, because I also know that I need to let the letter sink in, and allow my editor’s comments to perk around in my subconscious for a while. Because of my travel schedule over the next two weeks, I know I won’t be able to dive into revision right away. But at least now I’ll be working on it subconsciously!
“I did not see myself as racist because I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominace on my group from birth. Likewise, we are taught to think that sexism or heterosexism is carried on only through individual acts of discrimination, meanness, or cruelty toward women, gays, and lesbians, rather than in invisible systems conferring unsought dominance on certain groups.”—White Male Privilege - Peggy, McIntosh (via loki-ed)
The most amazing thing has happened! Kristen Zimmer, aka The Electronica Project, read an ARC of Adaptation and then went and made an entire unofficial soundtrack for it. Miraculously, the music she made is exactly the kind of stuff I listened to when writing Adaptation, and it basically blows my mind that musically she has totally grasped the mood and feel of my book.
Today I’ve invited author Kirstin Cronn-Mills to write a guest post about her experience writing her second novel, Beautiful Music for Ugly People(forthcoming this October from Flux), which tells the story of an 18-year-old trans guy. In her post, Kirstin explores the tricky issues of privilege and advocacy that arise when writing outside your own personal experience. [Continue reading]
“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.”—Agnes de Mille, choreographer and dancer (quote discovered in Pema Chodron’s forthcoming Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change)
Every Friday in June, I’ll be listing the YA novels first published in 2012 that include LGBT main characters. Today I’m covering books published in the first quarter: January through March. Next week I’ll list books published April-June; then July-September; and finally October-December. [Continue reading]
“What makes covert prejudice so hard to confront is its very subtlety. One way writers can address subtle biases is to do what we do best: WRITE stories that reveal how covert prejudices work. Such themes will be particularly valuable in YA stories, as it becomes less acceptable to openly bash LGBT young people. Many kids who in the past may have been openly harassed, bullied, and ostracized will undoubtedly experience more covert prejudice as our society incrementally moves toward true equality. We need to tell those stories.”—Author Alex Sanchez, interviewed for my YA Pride series
“I don’t like it when people dismiss Twilight as puppy love or Snow White as a fairytale. Why should something be a less valuable depiction of the human condition because it’s about a 17-year-old girl? Why should something be less credible as a story because it’s about a princess? I don’t think of those parts as lesser parts.”—Kristen Stewart (via heartkbitch)
I feel that since it is Pride month I must reblog this. Also, I can’t believe I am reblogging this from JON YANG’s tumblr. Not that this should shock me. I mean, straight guys like girls, right? And Jon is clearly a discerning straight guy. Happy looking, ladies and gents!
“Every historical period has been unkind to women, up to and including our own. But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t complex and interesting possibilities available to women of all eras, in between stirring the turnip soup and being oppressed.”—
Last Saturday I was driving to see Pamela Melroy speak about being only the second woman to command a space shuttle mission, when I heard a story on NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered about the impact of television on public opinions about gay people. Since I used to write about gay people on television, I was really interested in this piece, which featured an interview between host Guy Raz and Edward Schiappa, a professor of communications studies at the University of Minnesota.
So, this was a 5-minute piece on the radio. I knew that they couldn’t get too deeply into the nuances of LGBT representation on television. But you know what pissed me off? It basically dismissed — and then erased — women from the dialogue. [Continue reading]
So I just got back from a whole bunch of traveling and touring and got asked a zillion questions, but one of the most popular ones was this: What advice do you have for aspiring writers? I answered it so many times that I managed to edit down my usual blathering to a single Do and a single…
Excellent advice for writers, especially young writers!
“I want to do movies for women, but I don’t only want to do that. … What we’re doing as women by making these small, little movies, because that’s all they’ll give us, is we’re making things that don’t make as much money, that have a smaller audience and are harder to get right, and then we’re wondering why we don’t get bigger movies. That is very self-reinforcing. I would love me a big Hollywood movie. ‘Wonder Woman’? Give me a call.”—