Little Bird Celebrates #DiverseDecember with an Interview with Alison Clarke, author of 'The Sisterhood'
Diversity in literature is a hot and sometimes contentious topic at the moment. All over social media a discussion about representation in literature and the publishing industry is exploding. And it’s food for thought – serious food for thought. A recent article in the Guardian ‘Where Have All The Brown People Gone’ explores Nikesh Shukla’s recent criticisms of the British publishing industry towards people of colour. But it isn’t just about representation of colour, but age, disabilities, sexual orientation --- generally individuality; anybody that sits outside the white, western, heterosexual, middle-class, educated, parental, youthful, able-bodied, male construct.
And this is why the groundswell of independent and small press houses is so important – they give a voice to the individual; they are not so governed by marketing trends or institutional attitude, they are breaking the mould and the result is a fabulous manifestation of voices that would otherwise be silenced.
At Little Bird, we celebrate diversity, because diversity is individuality, and individuality is the most precious thing we have. Each individual voice, experience and mind enriches us as human beings.
So as part of #DiverseDecember celebrations, we are proud to share the following conversation between our very own Katie M John (Author of The Knight Trilogy) and Alison Clarke, author of (The Sisterhood)
(Scroll down for links to Alison’s magical book, ‘The Sisterhood’ and for a 50% off smashwords coupon for all eBooks)
Kate: Alison, your book, ‘The Sisterhood’ is a beautiful exploration of friendship, diversity, overcoming adversity and the experience of trying to find a sense of self? Why was this story the one you felt you had to tell?
Alison: I think it was an important story to tell because there is so much negativity in the world. We need more positivity. I also think that human connection, friendships, are what will pull us through these dark, disturbing times.
Kate: In your book your heroine, Oppie, is a person of colour and unlike many YA fantasy books, the different species are of diverse ethnicity and colour, breaking away from the very Eurocentric construct of fae and magical creatures? Can you talk to me more about that?
Alison: I think that as people of colour, it's important to see ourselves. As a child, I was not exposed to many books with black characters except for the Lincoln books about a young black boy who was smart and adventurous. It would have been wonderful to see books for kids about black girls. There were not many when I was a kid. When you don't see yourself in popular culture as a child, you feel devalued. And that translates into low self-esteem, there is always a feeling that you can't do anything; you can't achieve anything. That is a hard thing to experience. It is time for us writers of colour to tell our own stories, and for publishers to accept more books by writers of colour. It is time to acknowledge that there are many different ethnicities around the world. It's 2015.
Kate: Why do you think there is under-representation of people in colour in mainstream YA literature?
Alison: There is an under-representation of people of colour in mainstream YA literature, because not enough publishers are accepting work by writers of colour.
Kate: What’s your thoughts on writers writing characters and offering representations outside of their immediate experience? Is there a danger that as writers strive to offer more diverse representations in their works that it might perpetuate stereotypes?
I just think writers have to do their research if they are going to create a character that is not of his/her background. That is key. It's also important to acknowledge or give back to the community you are researching. Exploitation of a group for a book is not acceptable. This is what I know.
As for the perpetuation of stereotypes; it wouldn't happen. Stereotypes wouldn't exist if writers did their research. This is paramount if you are creating characters not of your background.
Kate: What would be your request to the publishing industry?
Alison: My request to the publishing industry would be twofold--one, to publish more authors of colour, and two, if writers are going to create characters not of their ethnicity, or background, to do their research. To reflect the diversity that is a reality in this world, these two things must happen.
You can grab your copy of Alison’s magical, positive MG / YA novel, ‘The Sisterhood’ in both paperback at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com
It is available in eBook format at the following links
Barnes & Noble (Nook) http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940151698030
Smashwords. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/591594 50% off Coupon Code EK92K
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