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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Marieke Nijkamp, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Guest Post: Amy Rose Capetta on Something Good Happened in 2016: Celebrating LGBTQ YA

Rainbow Boxes co-founders Cori & Amy Rose
By Amy Rose Capetta
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

In 2015, it seemed like there was a slowly growing list of excellent YA books with central LGBTQ main characters--but there were clearly still barriers making it difficult for readers, especially teen readers, to find them.

Fellow YA author Cori McCarthy* and I created Rainbow Boxes to help bridge that gap, to directly connect LGBTQ YA to young readers.

We raised funds that allowed us to send a box of fifteen YA titles to LGBTQ centers and community libraries in all 50 states.

Rainbow Boxes co-founder Cori McCarthy in our living room--with hundreds of LGBTQ books!

Then 2016 happened.

Looking forward at the beginning of this year, I saw new LGBTQ YA titles everywhere--seemingly more in a single year than we had seen in the past five put together.

Looking back now, while the publishing landscape has indeed changed in 2016, so has the world.**

Amy Rose, Cynthia & Sara Kocek
When I first talked to Cynthia Leitich Smith about this blog series, I hoped it would be a celebration of great LGBTQ YA: a call to uplift the excellent books that are being published while we continue to work for a wider range of stories and representation.

Now this series feels more urgently important than ever. In the coming years, LGBTQ people, especially young ones, will need stories. They will need adventure and friendship and truth and love, messiness and beauty, fluff and darkness, a place to see their humanity fully explored, even as other people seek to deny it.

Straight and cisgendered people need these stories, too. Without them, there will be no truthful narratives that push against the limited, distorted, and stereotyped portrayals of the past.

Amy Rose, Adam & Cori
The work is underway. Minds and hearts are changing. LGBTQ teenagers are brave and amazing. But there is still so much we can do. I’d like to start by waving my rainbow flag as hard as I can to celebrate some of the wonderful successes in LGBTQ YA.

Books about gay teenage boys have increasingly been enjoying mainstream success levels. Some of the breakouts include New York Times bestselling More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (Soho Teen, 2015), named as “mandatory reading” and selected as an Editor’s Choice by the NYT.

David Levithan’s many books about gay teenagers, which have been published for over a decade, are considered a YA staple.

Wildly popular Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Balzer + Bray, 2015) won the coveted Morris Award for debut authors.

Books about queer girls have not enjoyed the same levels of visibility, but there are signs that might be changing. In 2016, Anna-Marie McLemore’s When the Moon Was Ours (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Griffin, 2016) was long-listed for National Book Award, Emily M. Danforth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Balzer + Bray, 2012) was announced as an upcoming movie adaptation, and Marieke Nijkamp’s This is Where it Ends (Sourcebooks, 2016) hit #1 on the NYT bestseller list--and stayed on the list week after week.

I asked Marieke: how does it feel to have a #1 NYT bestselling title featuring queer girl main characters? What does it mean for you as a writer? As a queer person? She said:

"It means the world to me. One of the reasons why I started writing was to give a voice and stories to readers who struggled to find themselves in books.
"Like I did, growing up. And as it is, nothing fills my heart more than hearing from those exact readers, who recognize themselves--if only a little--in TIWIE.

"Of course I hoped and dreamed my stories would resonate, but to hear those reactions and to see this queer book of mine do so well...
"It's far beyond even my wildest dreams. It's out of this world. I'm so incredibly grateful for it, and I hope I can pay it forward."

I talked to Anna-Marie McLemore about how she sees the field changing. Her first book, The Weight of Feathers, came out last fall. Her second book, When The Moon Was Ours, features a queer girl and trans boy as main characters, and people of color compose the main casts of both books. She said:

"I have a lot of hope for the future of inclusive literature. We still have a long way to go, but thanks to the conversations taking place, many of them fostered by leaders like those of We Need Diverse Books, we’re moving forward."

I asked the same question to Malinda Lo, a well-known author in the LGBTQ community, whose books include Huntress (Little, Brown, 2011) and Adaptation (Little, Brown, 2012). She said:

"When my first novel, Ash (Little, Brown), was published in 2009, very little YA was published that included queer characters who did not have to struggle with coming out. This has changed significantly in the last seven years.
"This change certainly wasn't driven only by my books, because other authors had also been moving in this direction, but I think my books did contribute to the growing normalization of queer characters in YA.
"In other words, you can have a queer character in a book, but it doesn't always have to be about being queer. It can be about falling in love, or saving a kingdom, or simply coming of age, with sexual orientation one issue of many that a character engages with.
"I am really encouraged by this, because the struggle for LGBT rights and acceptance does not end with coming out; it begins there. We can only be full human beings when the whole of our lives and experiences count."

This was a common refrain when I talked to authors. There will always be a place for coming out stories, and a need for excellent books that struggle with the varied and changing realities of coming out. (I’d love to see more books that deal with the fact that coming out isn’t always a binary experience dividing life neatly into “before” and “after”.)

But focusing on coming out as the only important narrative results in a limited literature that reduces LGBTQ people to a single experience.

I asked Kekla Magoon, author of 37 Things I Love (in No Particular Order)(Henry Holt, 2012) what she’s excited about in the field and how she sees it changing.

"It's exciting to contribute to the growing offering of books that deal with sexuality in big and small ways while intersecting with other storylines and multiple layers of character development.
"Around the time I sold 37 Things I Love (2010) and the time it came out (2012), people had begun talking about the need for more books that dealt with LGBTQ characters doing things other than coming out, and the need for books that showed LGBTQ characters of color.
"The need still exists for those books, but it seems as though the conversation has intensified, and is beginning to result in changes. There are more LGBTQ books now than there used to be, and that the door to the industry is cracking open even further now, as we collectively deepen our understanding of identity and intersectionality."

When I asked Corinne Duyvis, author of Otherbound (Amulet, 2014), what she’s excited about in LGBTQ YA, she said:

"I'm very excited to be seeing more #ownvoices*** books hit the shelves. The more the better!
"After all, no two people's experiences are the same. The more different voices we have, the more we can show the wealth and breadth of experiences of queer characters--and the less pressure there is on individual authors to 'speak for' queer YA.
"They can just be honest about that one character's experiences instead of being put into the position of representing an entire group.

"I would very much like to see more trans representation both on the pages and behind the scenes. There are still a lot of experiences out there that aren't being written about very much, whether in terms of trans identity or the various angles of intersectionality.
"It's essential that we listen, that we actively seek out and welcome trans voices, and that we do whatever we can to make the industry--and the world--more trans-friendly."

2015-16 saw the publication of a small number of #ownvoices books about trans characters--such as If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (Flatrion) and George by Alex Gino (Scholastic) in the middle grade category.

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz (Candlewick) is an excellent sci-fi novel about a nonbinary character.

There is still such a long way to go. Trans characters are consistently underrepresented in LGBTQ fiction.

While celebrating how far LGBTQ YA has come, it’s important that we pay attention to areas where representation is seriously lagging. Almost every single person I interviewed for this blog series cited the need for more #ownvoices trans YA.

Vee Signorelli, the co-founder of The Gay YA, is currently running Trans Awareness Week. Please check out their work, starting with this post.

When I asked Vee about the delights and challenges of running a site that covers LGBTQ YA, they said:

"I’ve gotten to connect with other literary trans people. That… has meant so much to me. The literary community loves to herald any one trans person as the one and only, when in fact, there are many of us here, and that is unhelpfully isolating.
"There is something amazing about creating, theorizing, and working things through in community. Especially when you’re all part of such a marginalized identity that has been used and misrepresented, in culture, and in YA. There’s so much you’re able to reclaim.

"One of the absolute delights is how wonderful, strong, and vibrant the entire community is. Sometimes I get up in my head about the administration work, and I start freaking out about everything I have to do… and then I put something out to the community, like a call for submissions or volunteers, or opinions on a certain book, or anything and they are just there.
"I’m repeatedly amazed by everything the community does to keep this going."

Community is one of the most important words we can keep in mind, and foster moving forward.

Whether you’re a reader, a librarian, a teacher, a writer, a member of the publishing industry, a bookseller, there are things that all of us can do to keep this surge in LGBTQ YA going strong. And we can all work to make the YA book community a truly inclusive space.

One of the most obvious and wonderful is to enjoy and share the great books that are being published, so I want to leave you today with recommendations for new and upcoming books from Dahlia Adler, who runs LGBTQ Reads, and Vee Signorelli of The Gay YA.

These two websites are some of the most helpful resources and positive spaces for LGBTQ fiction, and I would greatly encourage anyone who doesn’t already check them out regularly to do so. (After adding these books to your TBR, of course.)

Dahlia said:
"I’m really, really into Jaye Robin Brown's Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit (HarperTeen, 2016). I think it does a really beautiful job with queerness and religion, and it's also just fun and cute and sexy and everything you want f/f YA to be.
"Anna-Marie McLemore's When the Moon Was Ours is not only remarkably beautiful in itself and its style, but in its representations of sexual orientation and gender identity and intersectionality.
"And for some books I think are just great that center queer characters but not queerness, check out Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (Sourcebooks, 2016), A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith (Roaring Brook, 2016), As I Descended by Robin Talley (HarperTeen, 2016), and Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig  (Feiwel & Friends, 2016).
"One I haven't read but am super excited about is Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee (Duet, 2016) - it sounds like so much fun.

"Beyond 2016, I can already definitely recommend History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Soho Teen), How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Katherine Tegen, 2017) -- I loved all of them and I'm positive many readers will too!"
Vee said:
"Queens of Geek by Jenn Wilde (Swoon) and Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinksi (Swoon) are two of my new all time favorite books. I’m also psyched to read Dreadnought by April Daniels (Diversion)(an #ownvoices YA featuring a trans girl), Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (Little, Brown), 27 Hours by Tristina Wright (Entangled Teen), and It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura (HarperTeen)."

This post is the first in a four-part series. Please come back for part two--I’ll be talking about LGBTQ YA genre fiction!

Notes from Amy Rose

Rainbow Boxes co-founders and YA authors Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta
*Yes, Cori McCarthy is also my girlfriend. Thank you for scrolling all the way down here to confirm this happy fact.

**Please note that all interviews were given before November, which means all answers are reflective of a pre-election cultural landscape.

***If you’re not familiar with the term/hashtag "#ownvoices," please check out #ownvoices, where Corinne Duyvis, who coined the term, explains what it means. 

Cynsational Notes

Amy Rose Capetta is the author of three YA novels: Entangled and Unmade, a space duet (both Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and Echo After Echo (Candlewick, 2017), a queer love story wrapped in a murder mystery and set on Broadway.

She is on the writing team for the second season of Remade, a YA sci-fi thriller from SerialBox, and works with writers on their novels through Yellow Bird Editors (with a special interest in genre fiction and LGBTQ fiction of all kinds!)

She is the co-founder of Rainbow Boxes (@rainbowboxesya), and holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Amy Rose lives and writes in Michigan with her girlfriend Cori McCarthy, who is also a YA author, and their five-year-old, who wants to be a wizard.

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2. Three Things I Wish I’d Known by Marieke Nijkamp

To kick off our Writers on Writing post series for 2016, we're welcoming Marieke Nijkamp, author of the arresting THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS. Today, she's talking about the three things she wishes she'd known when she was just starting out.

Three Things I Wish I’d Known by Marieke Nijkamp

There are three things I wish I’d known, way back when I first started out as a baby writer. Three things that it took me almost two decades to figure out. (Beyond the usual like plot and character and what is tension even? Because I started out as this headstrong ten-year-old and none of those were really within my skill set yet. I just needed to tell stories. And I needed those million bad words to tell good stories.)

This is what I wish I’d known (and what I still tell myself with every single story). Third: it’s okay for your writing/revision process to change from story to story. Second: to recover from a writing slump or writer’s block, it helps to find what you love in a story. And most of all: everyone has a story to tell and only you can tell yours.

3. It’s okay for your writing/revision process to change from story to story

There is no one way to write and there certainly isn’t one way that fits every single story and every single writer. And yet. With every story I write, I’m utterly convinced I’ve found the way for me. I’ve found the perfect plotting method! Character sheets that I love! (Once a DM, always a DM.) The right craft book or the right questions. But somehow, they never quite fit the next story. And with every story I write, I have to go through the motions to discover, I’m such fool.

There are certainly elements I need in all writing: a carefully structured plot (which currently means, spreadsheets FTW!), a sense of the characters’ hopes and dreams and motivations, and a good understanding of stakes. But how I get to those elements changes per story, and when I need them (very early on in the plotting process or as I’m drafting or sometimes only in revisions) is different every time too. And that’s okay. In fact, realizing that every story has its own process has been freeing. Because with every story it’s about what the story needs and how I, as author, can make that happen, and that initial journey of discovery—of falling in love with a story—is amazing. And it keeps me going too.

2. To recover from a writing slump or writer’s block, it helps to find what you love in a story

There are days when I really do not like the story I’m telling. Or rather, I want to like it, but it keeps slipping through my fingers. I keep just missing it. And it leaves me frustrated and blocked.

For the longest time, I thought the best way to deal with that was to keep writing, until I connected with the story again. Even if it meant recycling all those words a few days later. Turned out… that wasn’t the most productive method. Because usually when I’m blocked, it’s not just that I don’t connect to the story, it’s that I don’t quite understand it. To understand it, I need to go back to finding what I love. Which means stepping outside a story, fast forwarding to a scene I’m excited about, writing a letter from one character to the next, switching points of view. It means falling in love again.

And that, for me, is the hard of storytelling. Especially in the knowledge that:

1. Everyone has a story to tell and only you can tell yours

Now whether you subscribe to our storytelling is based on three basic plots or seven or eight or twenty or 36 or even just one, I think we can all agree that there are very few original stories left. And that may seem wholly intimidating. Except, the more I think about it, the more it isn’t intimidating at all.

Because it’s not a bad thing when stories share commonalities, tropes, plot devices. Especially not if they work and if they work in the context of that particular story. If, like me, you love forests, you’re not going to go to one wood and say you’ve seen them all. And in the next forest, you still expect, you know, trees. We look for details we can relate to and engage with, and that is what helps us build a framework for the stories we love and the stories we seek out or write!

And besides, within that framework, you can still write the most original and truest story there is: yours. A story that explores the world, people, the universe as you see it or don’t see it, know it or don’t know it, experience it or don’t experience it, feel it or don’t feel it. A story that reflects what matters to you most. but above all, a story that is shaped by your wonder and the way you converse with and understand life. Only you can tell that story—those stories, because they are multitudes. And they matter, deeply.

About the Book

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won't open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Goodreads | Indiebound | Amazon

About the Author


Marieke Nijkamp is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek. She holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies, and wants to grow up to be a time traveler. Her debut young adult novel This Is Where It Ends will be published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 5, 2016.

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3. Book Review- This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Title:   This is Where It Ends

Author:  Marieke Nijkamp
Series:   N/A
Published:    5th January 2016
Length:  292 pages
Source: The #TIWIEUKTour organised by Luna of Luna’s Little Library
Summary :  10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won't open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Review: This is the story of a school shooting, told as it happens from the perspectives of the shooter's sister Autumn, Autumn's girlfriend Sylv, Sylv's brother Tomás, and the shooter's ex-girlfriend, Claire. 
I wanted to read this because it's an amazing setup, and Marieke is brilliant on Twitter.
This was a would-be-one-sitting-if-life-didnt-get-in-the-way book.  It starts normally, setting up friendships and relationships (quite a few, and it’s a little confusing   because there’s lots of people introduced at the same time but you pick it up as you carry on)  to start with it’s just a normal school day  but after 10.05 it's full on until the end. There's books where you can't stop reading, then there's this.
I liked the multimedia approach, showing tweets, blogs, and texts from those involved and on the outside. The helplessness of everyone on the outside comes through, and I liked the way Marieke showed how tragedy doesn’t just affect those there.
Emotions. All the emotions for everyone. Particularly on page 212 of the proof, where one character slips into the conditional and that’s one of the most heartbreaking parts in the book (there's a few). But everywhere you see characters you know and don't know and fear for them and need to know what's going to happen.
I think the biggest thing about this book for me is how immediate it is. I’m  someone who’s grown up in the UK, where the last school shooting happened in 1996, before I was born, and was followed by pressure groups and the banning of handguns. As a result, when we hear of things like this happening, it’s horrifying and upsetting but you still feel distanced because, despite knowing that this could happen anywhere, living in the UK with its strict gun control laws makes it  harder to imagine a society where there’s the possibility of something like this happening and you practise what to do if it does, despite knowing that this is some people’s reality.
 TIWIE does one of the things I like most about reading contemporary/realistic fiction: make different situations real. The fully diverse cast of victims, survivors, and shooter is developed, and we see their dreams, their experiences, and lives. We see the people involved as people, not just names in a news report, which is, I think, why TIWIE is so hard hitting.


Overall:  Strength 5 tea to one of the most intense books I've ever read.


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4. Marieke Nijkamp Talks with Roger

marieke nijkamp TWR

Talks with Roger is a sponsored supplement to our free monthly e-newsletter, Notes from the Horn Book. To receive Notes, sign up here.


Marieke Nijkamp’s first novel, This Is Where It Ends, is unfortunately timely, telling, through multiple points of view, of a young shooter who holds an entire school hostage for one harrowing hour. Blood is spilled, secrets are revealed, truths are told. Marieke (pronounce it like the Jacques Brel song of the same name) spoke to me from her home in the Netherlands.

Roger Sutton: You are Dutch. How did it happen that this book is written in English and being published here?

Marieke Nijkamp: It actually came to pass quite by accident. I’d been writing in Dutch for quite a few years before I made the switch to English. A few non-Dutch-speaking friends of mine would have me translate things I was working on into English so they could get a sense of what I was doing every time I sat curled up in a corner somewhere with a notebook or my laptop. I’d been writing young adult stories without realizing it, because it wasn’t quite a market here, at that point, the way it was in the U.S. Mostly on account of traveling, I’d been used to speaking English, so using it as a way to tell my stories felt very natural. That was basically how that experiment started.

RS: Do you feel like a different person writing in English? Do you think you write different things?

MN: I actually do. I think it has to do with the way we use language in general. The rhythm of language, the melody, and also the cultural components really do influence the way we tell stories; the way I tell stories, certainly. I tried to translate an English story of mine into Dutch at one point, and halfway through the second sentence it changed into something completely different. That’s something to say about translating — it’s an art and craft that I do not possess.

RS: What was it like for you, then, coming from the outside, but writing in English, about what is a very American problem, at least these days?

MN: At first it felt incredibly intimidating, and I felt completely unequipped to talk about it. But I started working on the book because I was feeling just confused and baffled by how often these situations happen and how horrendous they are. I wanted to explore that and find a way to better understand. As a writer I do that by telling stories, and by trying to get as close to a situation as I can, even fictionally.

RS: Which part of the story occurred to you first?

MN: It started out as a conversation with a friend about gun safety and school violence. It left me with so many questions, and it began this story in the back of my mind, these characters who wanted me to tell their story. That’s something I hadn’t really quite experienced before. I’m usually the type of person who very carefully plots stories and knows exactly where to go from one moment to the next. But these characters occurred to me, and refused to let me finish another story I was working on, because I was so enthralled by what they had to say.

RS: I think it’s a very dangerous story, and I mean that in a good way. The storytelling is dangerous. And you let us know pretty early on in this book that it’s not going to be safe. That no one, essentially, in the book is safe from the shooter. We don’t know until the very end of the story who’s going to make it out alive.

MN: That was a very conscious choice for me, and also something that quite terrified me, writing it. I wanted to get as close as I could to the experience of being in that kind of situation, while still staying on the side of fiction, of course.

nijkamp_this is where it endsRS: One hopes.

MN: I feel like it’s important to have these types of discussions in fiction, too, even the ones that are dangerous in a sense. We only talk about tragedies after they occur. After something absolutely terrible happens we try to find ways to put it into words. We rarely ever talk about it beforehand. We rarely create safe spaces where we can discuss things that are so quintessential to teens’ lives these days. Books can play a very important role in that.

RS: Do you think a book like yours can help prevent these things from happening?

MN: You’re giving me the hard questions.

RS: I’m not asking you to say, yes, my book will save lives. But books in general. How do they help?

MN: Books in general, especially books that reference teens’ experiences and make them feel seen or heard, can create a sense that you’re not alone even when it may seem like it. In that regard, books play a very important role in many teens’ lives, in making them feel like they matter. Sometimes, especially for teens in difficult situations, it can seem like the entire world is against them. Just having that sense that there’s someone else out there who has gone through what you’ve gone through, or who can just empathize, is so incredibly important.

RS: How do you balance the need for telling a good story with getting your message across?

MN: The story always comes first. I don’t write with a certain kind of message that I have to tell. I certainly don’t want my books to be didactic, telling teens how to live their lives. But I do think it boils down to empathy. If you tell a good story it means getting close to teenagers’ lives, getting close to the things that motivate them, things that matter to them. If you do that, and if you approach that respectfully, you can get to a place where you have a common understanding of each other. That helps in getting the conversation going. Being a conversation-starter is one of the most important, or even just the best, things a book can do. There’s nothing like picking up a book and going over to someone else and talking about the things you experienced or the things you felt, and how that changes you, or how that makes you feel. That is more important than any message, in the end.

RS: It’s interesting. The last interview I did for this series was with British publisher David Fickling, and he said that when he reads a book he really loves, he doesn’t want to tell anybody anything about it. The only thing he wants to do is say, read this.

MN: That is so interesting. I tend to be that person who picks up a book and carries it under their arm and walks around pushing it into people’s faces.

RS: How did you decide to make the entire action of the book fall within a single hour? It’s pretty intense.

MN: To be honest, I asked myself that question many times while writing. I mostly wanted to convey that when a tragedy strikes, disaster strikes, it almost does feel like time slows down or stops entirely. Even a minute can feel like an hour or a day or longer. I wanted to use that as a way of exploring just how much has changed in such a short period of time. I gave myself those boundaries and stuck as close as possible to the situation itself, which obviously meant a little poetic license, because looking at average shootings, they don’t last for 54 minutes. So I did make some allowances there. But I hoped to get the point across that everything that you thought you knew, even five minutes ago, can change utterly and completely, and what does that do to you as a person?

RS: I think it’s a really effective literary device in this case too. When I started the book, I wasn’t really paying attention to the timestamps beginning each chapter. But as soon as I realized how minute-by-minute the story was, it pulled me in even further.

MN: That’s good to hear.

RS: You’re on the board of We Need Diverse Books here in the States.

MN: True.

RS: We Need Diverse Books is all about increasing representation in books and in publishing and among writers, etc. Do you feel like an outsider, coming to this American story?

MN: I don’t necessarily. I had been talking and writing about representation well before We Need Diverse Books happened. I grew up disabled, and there were many, many days and weeks and months I spent in hospitals, lying in bed, being able to do nothing but read books and watch television, and in my case that usually meant just reading books. With a very few exceptions — and those usually ended up being books like The Secret Garden, where even the disabled character is healed by the end, so it didn’t really feel like a book for me anyway — I just never saw myself inside the pages of a book. That’s something that caused me to start writing.

So that feeling, that necessity that stories should belong to all of us, motivated me from very early on. And it culminated in being a board member of We Need Diverse Books. I have to be conscious about the fact — and I do try to be — that I live in a different society, with different rules and different experiences of various kinds of marginalization. But that underlying need of readers to have both mirrors and windows is something I feel is universal, and is something I can speak to in that particular context.

RS: Sometimes I worry that our definition of what a mirror is has become too narrow. When I think of my own reading as a kid, I didn’t just need little nerdy gay white boys to read about, even though that’s what I was. I found my mirrors in lots of different kinds of characters. They could be animal characters, they could be female characters, they could be adults, they could be historical figures. Sometimes I feel like we’re getting too literal about what we mean by a mirror.

MN: I think we can find mirrors in many kinds of books. I don’t think that finding a mirror in a book or in a character that is supposedly unlike yourself means that everyone will always find themselves reflected in that way. Just looking at the books I read and my experience, there were certainly books that I identified with a lot, but there were also things I struggled with as a disabled kid that I would have loved to have seen in books and never saw. Just the ways life can differ if you have a disability.

Just having that sense of recognition would have been very important to me. I think that even when we do see ourselves in different kinds of stories, that doesn’t negate the fact that there are many other stories we rarely tell, if ever. There is a need for those as well. The fact that we seem to have a narrow definition of mirror at times doesn’t mean that those are the only stories we have to tell, but it means that those are the stories we aren’t telling enough, and maybe we should try to be more inclusive.

RS: I understand that. Let’s make sure that those mirrors are there.

MN: Yeah, absolutely.

The post Marieke Nijkamp Talks with Roger appeared first on The Horn Book.

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5. January 2016 Releases

Happy New Year! Here at PubCrawl we like to usher in 2016 with a lot of new and exciting books! Hold on to your wallets, friends, because it’s once again time for our Upcoming Titles feature. As always, this is by no means a comprehensive list of forthcoming releases, just a compilation of titles we think our readers (and our contributors!) would enjoy.

Without further ado:

Passenger
Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley
Truthwitch
The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine

This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

January 5

January 12

Other Broken Things

January 19

We Are the Ants by Shaun Hutchinson
Sword and Verse by Kathy Macmillan

January 26

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin
The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

Night Study by Maria V. Snyder
Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

** PubCrawl alum

That’s all for this month! Are any of these books on your TBR lists? Any books we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!

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6. Literary Events This Week: Marieke Nijkamp and Short Fiction

This is Where it Ends Cover (GalleyCat)Here are some literary events to pencil in your calendar this week.

To get your event posted on our calendar, visit our Facebook Your Literary Event page. Please post your event at least one week prior to its date.

Books of Wonder will host a launch party for Marieke Nijkamp’s This is Where it Ends. Join in on Tuesday, Jan. 5 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (New York, N.Y.)

A panel of Nightboat Books authors will perform readings at McNally Jackson. Hear them on Thursday, Jan. 7 starting 7 p.m. (New York, N.Y.)

The first session of the Franklin Park Reading Series in 2016 will feature a roster of five writers. See them on Monday, Jan. 11 starting 7 p.m. (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

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