This summer I visited with teens in the public library in the town where I grew up. They’re putting together an online magazine, and I’ve been acting like a mentor. It’s been great fun. These kids are talented! You must go read their stories, poems, and reviews right now at Write Away!
Racculia’s irresistibly charming debut is an artful mix of genres: oddball domestic (set in a boardinghouse, characters named Desdemona and Oneida), coming-of-age (high school loves and teen angst) and literary women’s fiction (love, loss, and friendship)….With its happy ending and rich trove of Gen-X references and humor, this is a thoroughly enjoyable first novel, both accessibly absurd and quite touching.
And from that Kirkus review:
The author brilliantly captures teenage angst and uncertainty as she conveys some very grown-up truths about the choices we make and the prices we—and others—pay for them. Intelligent, warm-hearted and tough-minded—Racculia is a talent to watch.
Kate and I were in a writing group together when we both lived in the Boston area, and I got to read some early chapters, and then was lucky enough to read a draft. I love books that sweep me up and make me feel like I’m in a different place; I especially like them if they take place in quirky small-towns with smart, witty characters.
Last Thursday I went down to the launch and there were cupcakes!
I am not too proud to admit that I went for a cupcake before I bought my copies of the book. You should go get the book, and then get yourself a cupcake to eat while reading. I promise that the descriptions of baking within will induce cravings and you will be glad to have a sweet or two on-hand.
From the title of the book, which comes from a Talking Heads song, to personal anthems, to Foreigner Kate drew on a wide-range of 80s and 90s music while writing this book. In the posts, there’s even a screenshot of Damon Albarn from a Blur video that makes me giddy every time I look at it (yes, I, too, have a thing for “disaffected British dudes with beautiful eyes and hollowed out hearts”). So here’s some more Blur for your enjoyment — I think Wendy would like it (once he got past all that w00-hooing).
Ellen Wittlinger has an article in this month’s Hornbook, “Too Gay or Not Gay Enough” about changes in the Lambda Literary Foundation Awards’ guidelines, which now require that submissions be from self-identified LGBT authors.
The discussion in response to this article over at Arthur A. Levine’s blog is fascinating. For me, the debate about insider versus outsider is perhaps the most interesting (and the most relevant to my own work).
I’ve written about why I write LGBTQ characters, which I think can be summed up as, “To not include them would be to not represent reality.” Secrets of Truth & Beauty included minority characters, but their race was a minor part of the story. Works in progress include a similar mix. When I am writing, I don’t think, “Okay, now it’s time for the Asian character.” That’s how a character appears to me. I do work to make sure that their race or sexuality informs who they are, and works within the story, just as I worked to make Dara’s weight an integral if not defining part of her character development.
I encourage others to go read the article, read Arthur Levine’s response, and then participate in the discussion. These are the kinds of topics and questions that need to be raised in the kidlit world.