May 17, 2011

Diversity in YA Tour - Austin!

Last week was the Austin stop for the Diversity in YA Tour! The Texas leg consisted of: Bethany Hegedus, Malinda Lo, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Cindy Pon, Dia Reeves, and Jo Whittemore. Moderated by Austin's own, Varian Johnson. I had been looking forward to this for months and got to Book People early to sit in on an interview with Katie from Mundie Moms. I took some pretty darn good notes, and thought I would share a little about what they said.

Were there any diverse books that you read while growing up?

Pon: "I wrote the book I wanted to read. Looking back, I didn't realize that. I never remember reading about anyone that looked like me growing up.

Lo: "Same for me with Ash."

Garcia McCall: "The Pearl by John Steinbeck and The Old Man and The Sea even though it had Cuban characters, I devoured it. As a teacher, Gary Soto's Neighborhood Odes. I wondered, where is the Mexican American poetry for girls?"

How did your heritage play a role in your writing?

Hegedus: "My books directly deal with race. It's not swept under the rug. Being curious about other cultures doesn't negate your own"

Whittemore: "I was one of two Asians in school. I write about the underdogs and outsiders. My heritage gave me the insight."

Reeves: "I went to an all black school. There were four white people in high school. I got to college and it was totally different, shocking. That's why I write - on the fringe of everything. I have experienced racism within my culture. I never felt the struggle to fit in. Always try to be yourself."

Garcia McCall: "I always knew there was more out there (from watching Star Trek). I wanted to explore everything. I loved mythology."

Pon: "As a teen, you see things as black and white, and as you are older, you realize they're not." (speaking about the the issue of racial differences)

Varian Johnson was a fantastic moderator and asked some great questions as well. Here are a few great quotes:

"Diversity is all the little differences that make us the same." - Whittemore

"People of color don't write science fiction. In the future, we don't exist." - Johnson

"I like to imagine characters." - Lo on why she prefers covers without people

"I'm working on a book based in the future and will have to explain why there are so many hispanics." - Garcia McCall

"Sell them on the story." - Lo on how to pitch a diverse book to a young reader

Lonestar Bethany Hegedus

Jo Whittemore, Malinda Lo, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, and me

Stephanie and I with Cindy Pon

It was such a fun night with a lot of laughs and a lot of "don't Tweet this...!" After the crowd cleared...we went out to chat and laugh even more.. When everyone piled in my Suburban, Malinda said, "This is the most TX thing we have done so far." That made my night.....

Z-Tejas crowd

Because I love you all, I have some signed swag up for grabs. TWO people will win the loot below - notice there are signed book plates from each author.

*giveaway closed*