Good morning, book people!
Some more whitewashing discussion on The Hunger Games this morning. This post by author Malinda Lo (Ash) makes some great points–Lo discusses color and class, and reading cues for racial background. Here’s the description of Katniss from early in the book:
straight black hair, olive skin [and]… gray eyes
That could definitely be taken as ambiguous, though with that, and the fairness of Katniss’ mother and Prim, I’ve always read her as biracial–particularly since she shares the “Seam look” with the rest of District 12, and her mother and Prim do not. (To my mind, she also identifies more with the Seam than with her family.) Make sure you read the comments on Lo’s post, too.
JJ, an editorial assistant at St. Martin’s, talks about her read of Katniss as white over at Uncreate Conscience. I don’t agree with her whole post, but it is a thoughtful critique worth reading. An important point from the conclusion:
Here’s a question I have about speculative fiction (including science fiction and fantasy): if race is not specifically mentioned, or the world has a different idea of “race” than ours, how does one go about indicating ethnicity? If it’s important to the author that a character in a work of spec fic be of a specific race, how can one indicate that? If ethnicity isn’t important, what can s/he do to change the default assumption of “whiteness”?
At the WSJ, Jeffrey Trachtenberg fills us in on a Random House/THQ Inc. deal. THQ is a developer and publisher of “interactive entertainment software” (read: video games). It’s mostly paid content, so it might be worth stopping by a Starbucks with your laptop/phone/iPad if ebooks and interactive books/games are your cup of tea (or coffee).
Over at Lightning + Lightning Bugs, agent Weronika Janczuk posts more about agents and self-publishing. Some useful commentary, some nice summations. Expect a few more posts like this–as my friend Livia pointed out at our last critique group meeting, a lot of agents were putting out their thoughts about ebooks and self-publishing last week. True, it’s probably not all tied into the Amanda Hocking news, but her St. Martin’s deal has lent a certain amount of legitimacy to self-publishing–legitimacy I think the big houses and agents have been waiting for (but unwilling to bet on) for a while.
Cory Doctorow has a new column up at PW, on the “the Baroque process of getting a book listed on both Lulu and Amazon.” It’s long, but Definitely Worth Reading. If you read only one thing from this list today, make it this piece.
And finally, a bit of fun–bookish webcomic Unshelved reviewed Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan last week. Here’s a snippet; click through for more. (via Scott Westerfeld)Read More
The Happy Book Blog has a long but hopeful post about the survival of books in a digital age. It’s not pro e-book, but rather pro-reading/books/classics, a paean to stories well worth reading.
Over at The Book Smugglers, a review of the YA fantasy, The False Princess, by Eilis O’Neal. Go read it, though this sums it up nicely: “…although Eilis O’Neal’s debut novel plays with well-worn tropes, The False Princess is a delightful and engrossing story that executes these familiar elements beautifully.”
At The Shatzkin Files, Mike Shatzkin has an excellent post on Random House adopting the agency model (Random House UK, however, is not) and what that could mean. And here’s the WSJ‘s Jeffrey Trachtenberg with more, including a couple of comments from RH.
Cory Doctorow has a fan written alternate ending for his YA, Little Brother, up on Craphound. I love the idea of not just writing a new ending, but having an excerpt featured by the author, too! This might be great competition fodder when my novel gets published!
A little old in internet time, but YA Highway has a guest post by Nicola K. Richardson, on writing race in YA. This is an Excellent Post. Everyone–regardless of whether you write about race or not–should read it. To finish up, here’s a quote, the kind that should be plastered in writing centers and above desks and across hearts:
When writing characters of a different race than your own, readers can tell the real from the racist, okay? We know. Some may say that you cannot feel racism. When you’ve spent a lifetime dealing with it, you can most certainly detect it. Your personal beliefs and thoughts almost always bleed into your writing and if you have any misconceptions or stereotypes about any race, don’t write about them, because it will seen. Instead,t hink about why you feel or think that way. Work through it. Take a hard look at yourself and ask some very tough questions. If you can’t do this, leave diversity alone.
For me, writing about other races and culture is always about the two R’s: Respect and Research. That applies for me as a black woman writing about a Russian character just as much as it does for a white person writing about an Asian character. No, you can’t just assemble a character of color and toss them in a book. They aren’t white and their cultural experiences are vastly different.
I’ll be back later with thoughts on the YA I’m reading right now, Beautiful Creatures.Read More
Flash fictioning your way through that novel – Rumjhum Biswas explains how over @ the Flash Fiction Chronicles
Artist admits using key AP photo for ‘HOPE’ poster - Shepard Fairey may have violated copyright law with his iconic poster of the President. An interesting discussion of fair use.