Feeds:
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘speculative fiction’

IMG_2185This month is becoming a bit too intense, which is what happens when I try to do too many things at once. The self-publication of The Deep is moving forward, which means I’ve been communicating with designers and illustrators and filmmakers (for the trailer). I’ve been looking around for people to help me fact check some things in the novel, and have been really lucky that my friends and colleagues are willing to lend a hand. Yesterday another friend told me about a fellowship that’s perfect for me—but the deadline is November 1. Can I grade three sets of papers, judge an African children’s literature competition, teach my three classes, coordinate the publication of my novel, present in two friends’ classes, conduct research in the UK, AND get this application done? It’s daunting.

Still, last weekend I took my camera up to Grand Army Plaza and snapped some shots for the book trailer. I finally have a door of my own! This one is on the outside of the triumphal arch at Grand Army Plaza. After reading magical books as a child and wishing I could find my own portal to another world, I’ve written a book about a black girl who does just that! I’ve got about ten beta readers looking at the novel. I hope they find it as compelling to read as it was to write…

This morning I got an email from the Carl Brandon Society list. I knew John Jennings had made up this graphic because he posted it on Facebook a while ago. But apparently you can now buy a number of items from this site. Not sure how I feel about being on this list. Not sure I belong…

Whenever I feel this stressed out, I wish I really did have a door that I could slip through and disappear for a while…

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

IMG_2157Brooklyn is my heart. I moved here in 1994, which means I have lived in the US for almost two decades! I’ve moved around a bit, spending a couple of years in Ohio, and a year in both Louisiana and Massachusetts. But I always return to Brooklyn because this was the first place where I felt I truly belonged. I still go back to Canada to see family and friends, but those trips have often been fraught with anxiety, painful memories, and pressure to slip back into roles I rejected years ago. These days, I return to Toronto on something of a mission: I want to create change within the children’s literature community. That means connecting with educators, parents, young readers, and gatekeepers within the arts community—not an easy task! But this past weekend I went to Toronto and managed to achieve ALL of my goals. I arrived at noon on Friday and spent the afternoon catching up with my cousin Bethany. We talked about the challenge of teaching at a community college and our chances of building a future outside of the academy. Then, for the first time, I checked into a hotel and spent the rest of the day on my own. After a nap I went out into the city and walked around, counting—as I always do—the number of black people I saw on the street. I wouldn’t do that in Brooklyn because IMG_2152there are too many of us to count, but in Toronto I always feel outnumbered, invisible, and irrelevant. The next day, however, I was on a high after meeting some wonderful young writers at the Dawes Road Library in East York. Toronto is somewhat like NYC; we don’t have boroughs, but there are lots of smaller cities that combined to form the Greater Toronto Area or GTA. That would be fine except that the GTA has one of THE worst public transit systems EVER. It poured all day on Saturday, but that didn’t dampen my spirits; my cousin Beverley took me out for breakfast and then kindly offered to accompany me to the afternoon workshop—and I appreciated the help because I wouldn’t have made it there alone with a heavy bag full of books to give away plus juice boxes and snacks for the participants. We got the train, transferred to a second train, and then caught the bus out to the library. I took public transit a LOT last weekend, and it was good for me—as much as I complained, I still got where I needed to go and I didn’t have to rely entirely on my very kind cousin who always offers to chauffeur me around town. The “Black Magic” workshop was a lot of fun; our participants were a bit younger than expected, but they still had plenty of creative ideas and we answered lots of questions about our writing process and the challenges of getting published. Kelbian Noel (above, far right) was a fantastic co-host and helped me feel more at ease. I do loads of author talks and writing workshops here in the US but I’ve only done a handful in the GTA and that made me nervous. I’m hoping we can collaborate on other events in the future. It was gratifying to see young Canadians so excited about our books!

thI don’t normally visit Canada in September; with the fall semester just getting underway, it’s not an ideal time to travel. But a few months ago I blogged about the Word on the Street festival in Toronto and that led to an email exchange with the festival director, which concluded with an offer of a VIP tour of the event. I had hoped we could present a “Black Magic” panel at the festival but accepted the tour instead and was delighted to meet Bhavna Chauhan, a WOTS board member and editor at Random House. For an hour we walked around Queen’s Park and discussed the challenge of creating equity within the Canadian publishing industry. At each tent we stopped and looked at the list of authors scheduled to present and at every tent the line-up was virtually all white (I noticed the mighty white graphic was altered to include at least one brown-skinned reader). That met my rather low expectations for the festival, but it was still really encouraging to meet an industry insider who was willing to talk honestly about her experiences. I spotted a couple of African Americans on the covers of books in the kids zone and Bhavna rightly pointed out that she never gets to see figures from South Asian history on display. I went to two or three booksellers and asked for books by Black Canadian authors—Mabel’s Fables had none on hand but Annick Press had Olive Senior’s Birthday Suit and I discovered a new adult novel (Two Women) by Kittitian-Canadian author Christene A. Brown at the Second Story Press booth. It was FREEZING in Toronto so after my tour ended I met up with Leonicka Valcius and we headed to a nearby Tim Horton’s to warm up for a while. Leonicka is another woman of color working in Canadian publishing; she blogs at Leonicka.com and just yesterday posted her important analysis of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Inspired by Malinda Lo’s consideration of the ALA’s BFYA, Leonicka broke down the award recipients by race and gender—not surprisingly, her results were disheartening…

So how do we create change with the children’s literature community in Canada? The answer might be: go around the gatekeepers. On Monday I visited my cousin Beverley’s high school out in Etobicoke. I was a bit rusty since I hadn’t given an author talk since last spring, but the students were fantastic and had plenty of questions to fill up the double period. And there was even a bit of magic—just as I told the story of my close encounter with two swans in Prospect Park, we heard a loud squawking coming from above. I laughed, assuming one of the students or teachers had a goose call ringtone on their cell phone, but it turns out there were actual Canadian geese on the library roof and they just happened to make their presence known right at that moment! The best part of that school visit was getting to meet some diverse student writers afterward. Many of them were interested in self-publishing and there was audible outrage expressed when I explained that I walked away from a decent contract because the publisher wanted to wait until 2015. If I can keep finding a way into Canadian schools, hopefully more diverse writers will find their own way to publication. We need to challenge the gatekeepers who are excluding people of color from the arts community, but we can’t wait for them to see the light. We have to seize the moment and create a third way…

Read Full Post »