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*


  1. Sounds like you had fun. And you had a combo interview, now that's awesome. Can't wait to go my next literary event. I miss meeting and networking with other writers and snagging great books.

  2. Love the quote. "diversity is all the differences that make us the same". AWESOMENESS!!! That is what I always tried to convey to my AP World kids. Thanks for promoting the tour. That is exactly what this world (esp US) needs--more tolerance, openess and honoring of others.

  3. Looks like you guys had a lot of fun! Wish I could have been there.

  4. I've never really thought about diversity in books, also I wouldn't hesitate to buy a book because of diversity^^
    Anyway thanks for the fun notes.

  5. I'm glad there was a spotlight on this. It's great to bring awareness to everyone. I've always wanted to go to a tour...

  6. I wish I was able to go. It looks like you had lots of fun.

  7. This is something I don't think I had really considered much before. Thanks for the post and for giving me some insight. I think always being yourself is great advice.

  8. Ah I wish I lived closer to major cities to be able to go to these amazing author events. I love seeing your posts from them though and the pictures!

  9. FYI, I think you meant to type:

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

    Not "Where there any..."

  10. Thanks for posting this, Jen! I've been patiently waiting. I am lucky, as I am able to attend many events in Atlanta, however this is one event that I was quite envious of!

    I like the choice of question that you posted for the panel, and obviously the answers are interesting. The night must have been amazing.

    I wish I could have been there to see Dia Reeves taking photos of the audience while she was sitting on the panel. She is too much! :)

  11. I'm so sad I couldn't be there. Why couldn't Houston and Austin be right next to each other? CURSES, lol. You guys look like you had so much fun, especially afterwards. :)

    Thanks for posting this, sweetie.

  12. Thank you for hosting this giveaway! it's really nice that your putting up the sawg you worked to get, and sharing it with us. pretty cool! Would be nice to have those kind of occastions happening near where I live... im very jealous =)

    Thanks again!
    SpadesHighReads @

  13. Thank you for the great giveaway and for making international. I'm so jealous because I can't go in book tour like that. It seems wonderful!

  14. Wow, for so many of them their heritage played such a strong role in their writing. This sounds like a really cool book tour. Thanks for the giveaway!

  15. again!!! thanks for the giveaway!! and making it internaional!!!! Jealous aura~directed at you~

  16. Thanks for the giveaway and for making it international. Sigh... We don't get things like that in Spain!!!

  17. Diversity in YA! Horray! It's a beautiful thing.
    Thanks for the fun interview!

  18. I love that diversity is being worked into the forefront of YA even more. Recognizing that there are separate experiences across the board and that they are all legitimate view points is important to help foster growth within teens and children!

    Awesome opportunity, I wish the tour was coming near me! Thanks for the giveaway!!