Shannon Hale

Life is short, so live extra lives. Read books.

4,874 notes

weneeddiversebooks:

Read This: Gene Luen Yang’s rousing comics speech at the 2014 National Book Festival gala
From the Washington Post, article here.
GENE LUEN YANG, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building:
Good evening. Thank you, Library of Congress and National Book Festival, for inviting me to share the stage with such esteemed authors, and to speak with all of you. I am deeply grateful for this honor.
I’m a comic-book guy, so tonight I’d like to talk about another comic book guy. Dwayne McDuffie was one of my favorite writers. When I was growing up, he was one of the few African-Americans working in American comics. Dwayne worked primarily within the superhero genre. He got his start at Marvel Comics but eventually worked for almost every comic book publisher out there. He even branched out into television and wrote for popular cartoon series like “Justice League” and “Ben 10.”
Dwayne McDuffie
Dwayne McDuffie is no longer with us, unfortunately. He passed away in 2011, at the age of 49. But within comics, his influence is still deeply felt.
I was lucky enough to have met him once. About a year before his death, we were on a panel together at Comic-Con. I had the opportunity to shake his hand and tell him how much his work meant to me.
In a column Dwayne wrote in 1999, he talked about his love of the Black Panther, a Marvel Comics character. The Black Panther’s secret alias is T’Challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. He has super senses, super strength, and super agility. He’s an Avenger, though he hasn’t yet made it into the movies.
The Black Panther wasn’t created by African American cartoonists. He was created in July of 1966 by two Jewish Americans, Stan Lee (who was born Stanley Lieber) and Jack Kirby (who was born Jacob Kurtzberg).
By modern standards, the Black Panther is not a flawless example of a black superhero. In their first draft of the character, Lee and Kirby called him “the Coal Tiger” and gave him a goofy yellow and black costume. Even in his final form, his superhero alias includes the word “Black.” This is true of many early African and African American superheroes, as if what makes them remarkable is neither their superpowers nor their heroism, but their ethnicity. Most problematic, though, was that Marvel made their most prominent black superhero the star of a series called Jungle Action.
All of these flaws were lost on Dwayne McDuffie when he first encountered the Black Panther in 1973, at the age of 11. What struck him was the character’s commanding sense of dignity. The Black Panther wasn’t anyone’s sidekick. He wasn’t an angry thug. He wasn’t a victim. He was his own hero, his own man. As Dwayne describes it, “In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.”
Dwayne’s love of the Black Panther eventually blossomed into a love of comics in general. Dwayne was a smart guy with a lot of options in life. He’d earned a master’s degree in physics. But he chose to write comics as his career. I would argue that without the Black Panther, this flawed black character created by a writer and an artist who were not black, there would be no Dwayne McDuffie the comic book writer.
Dwayne wasn’t just a writer — he was also a businessman. In the early ’90s, he teamed with a group of writers and artists to found Milestone Media, the most prominent minority-owned comic book company that has ever existed. The Milestone universe have since been folded into DC Comics, so these days characters like Static Shock and Icon – characters Dwayne co-created – fight crime alongside Superman and Batman.
In the early ’90s, I was finishing up my adolescence. I visited my local comic-book store on a weekly basis, and one week I found a book on the stands called Xombi, published by Milestone Media. Xombi is a scientist who became a superhero after he was injected with nanotechnology. He allied himself with a secret order of superpowered nuns. One sister was known as Nun of the Above, another Nun the Less. Together, they protected the world from all kinds of supernatural threats.
Xombi was inventive and fun, but he stood out to me because he was an Asian American male carrying in his own monthly title. And even more notable – he didn’t know Kung Fu. Xombi wasn’t created by Asian Americans – his writer was white and his artist black – but he did make Asian Americans a little less invisible.
We in the book community are in the middle of a sustained conversation about diversity. We talk about our need for diverse books with diverse characters written by diverse writers. I wholeheartedly agree.
But I have noticed an undercurrent of fear in many of our discussions. We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say.
This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities. After all, our job as writers is to step out of ourselves, and to encourage our readers to do the same.
I told you the story of Dwayne McDuffie to encourage all of us to be generous with ourselves and with one another. The Black Panther, despite his flaws, was able to inspire a young African American reader to become a writer.
We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.
Just make sure you iron them out before the final draft. Make sure you do your homework. Make sure your early readers include people who are a part of the culture you’re writing about. Make sure your editor has the insider knowledge to help you out. If they don’t, consider hiring a freelance editor who does.
Also, it’s okay if stereotypes emerge in the first drafts of your colleagues. Correct them – definitely correct them – but do so in a spirit of generosity. Remember how soul-wrenching the act of writing is, how much courage it took for that writer to put words down on a page.
And let’s say you do your best. You put in all the effort you can. But then when your book comes out, the Internet gets angry. You slowly realize that, for once, the Internet might be right. You made a cultural misstep. If this happens, take comfort in the fact that even flawed characters can inspire. Apologize if necessary, resolve do better, and move on.
Let your fear drive you to do your homework. But no matter what, don’t ever let your fear stop you.

weneeddiversebooks:

Read This: Gene Luen Yang’s rousing comics speech at the 2014 National Book Festival gala

From the Washington Post, article here.

GENE LUEN YANG, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building:

Good evening. Thank you, Library of Congress and National Book Festival, for inviting me to share the stage with such esteemed authors, and to speak with all of you. I am deeply grateful for this honor.

I’m a comic-book guy, so tonight I’d like to talk about another comic book guy. Dwayne McDuffie was one of my favorite writers. When I was growing up, he was one of the few African-Americans working in American comics. Dwayne worked primarily within the superhero genre. He got his start at Marvel Comics but eventually worked for almost every comic book publisher out there. He even branched out into television and wrote for popular cartoon series like “Justice League” and “Ben 10.”

Dwayne McDuffie is no longer with us, unfortunately. He passed away in 2011, at the age of 49. But within comics, his influence is still deeply felt.

I was lucky enough to have met him once. About a year before his death, we were on a panel together at Comic-Con. I had the opportunity to shake his hand and tell him how much his work meant to me.

In a column Dwayne wrote in 1999, he talked about his love of the Black Panther, a Marvel Comics character. The Black Panther’s secret alias is T’Challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. He has super senses, super strength, and super agility. He’s an Avenger, though he hasn’t yet made it into the movies.

The Black Panther wasn’t created by African American cartoonists. He was created in July of 1966 by two Jewish Americans, Stan Lee (who was born Stanley Lieber) and Jack Kirby (who was born Jacob Kurtzberg).

By modern standards, the Black Panther is not a flawless example of a black superhero. In their first draft of the character, Lee and Kirby called him “the Coal Tiger” and gave him a goofy yellow and black costume. Even in his final form, his superhero alias includes the word “Black.” This is true of many early African and African American superheroes, as if what makes them remarkable is neither their superpowers nor their heroism, but their ethnicity. Most problematic, though, was that Marvel made their most prominent black superhero the star of a series called Jungle Action.

All of these flaws were lost on Dwayne McDuffie when he first encountered the Black Panther in 1973, at the age of 11. What struck him was the character’s commanding sense of dignity. The Black Panther wasn’t anyone’s sidekick. He wasn’t an angry thug. He wasn’t a victim. He was his own hero, his own man. As Dwayne describes it, “In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.”

Dwayne’s love of the Black Panther eventually blossomed into a love of comics in general. Dwayne was a smart guy with a lot of options in life. He’d earned a master’s degree in physics. But he chose to write comics as his career. I would argue that without the Black Panther, this flawed black character created by a writer and an artist who were not black, there would be no Dwayne McDuffie the comic book writer.

Dwayne wasn’t just a writer — he was also a businessman. In the early ’90s, he teamed with a group of writers and artists to found Milestone Media, the most prominent minority-owned comic book company that has ever existed. The Milestone universe have since been folded into DC Comics, so these days characters like Static Shock and Icon – characters Dwayne co-created – fight crime alongside Superman and Batman.

In the early ’90s, I was finishing up my adolescence. I visited my local comic-book store on a weekly basis, and one week I found a book on the stands called Xombi, published by Milestone Media. Xombi is a scientist who became a superhero after he was injected with nanotechnology. He allied himself with a secret order of superpowered nuns. One sister was known as Nun of the Above, another Nun the Less. Together, they protected the world from all kinds of supernatural threats.

Xombi was inventive and fun, but he stood out to me because he was an Asian American male carrying in his own monthly title. And even more notable – he didn’t know Kung Fu. Xombi wasn’t created by Asian Americans – his writer was white and his artist black – but he did make Asian Americans a little less invisible.

We in the book community are in the middle of a sustained conversation about diversity. We talk about our need for diverse books with diverse characters written by diverse writers. I wholeheartedly agree.

But I have noticed an undercurrent of fear in many of our discussions. We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say.

This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities.
After all, our job as writers is to step out of ourselves, and to encourage our readers to do the same.

I told you the story of Dwayne McDuffie to encourage all of us to be generous with ourselves and with one another. The Black Panther, despite his flaws, was able to inspire a young African American reader to become a writer.

We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.

Just make sure you iron them out before the final draft. Make sure you do your homework. Make sure your early readers include people who are a part of the culture you’re writing about. Make sure your editor has the insider knowledge to help you out. If they don’t, consider hiring a freelance editor who does.

Also, it’s okay if stereotypes emerge in the first drafts of your colleagues. Correct them – definitely correct them – but do so in a spirit of generosity. Remember how soul-wrenching the act of writing is, how much courage it took for that writer to put words down on a page.

And let’s say you do your best. You put in all the effort you can. But then when your book comes out, the Internet gets angry. You slowly realize that, for once, the Internet might be right. You made a cultural misstep. If this happens, take comfort in the fact that even flawed characters can inspire. Apologize if necessary, resolve do better, and move on.

Let your fear drive you to do your homework. But no matter what, don’t ever let your fear stop you.

62 notes

My twin 3yos return from preschool.

"We did art today!"

"Yes, we learned about positive space and negative space."

Me: “Really?” I point to a picture. “What part is the negative space?”

My 3yo correctly shows me. Then she points to the gap between her front teeth. “Negative space!”

Me: “Yeah!”

"Mama, I want to whisper something in your ear." She leans in. "Henri Matisse."

Me: “Henri Matisse?”

"Yep. He painted pictures. Then he went to a doctor and he died."

"Yeah, he’s dead now."

She makes up a game where when she says “positive space” we kiss and when she says “negative space” we hug. I would like to keep playing this game forever, please.

102 notes

tubooks:

disabilityinkidlit:

weneeddiversebooks:

#WeNeedDiverseBooks summer reading series! If You Liked Fantastic Four, try Dangerous by Shannon Hale because both feature superpowers and adventures in space!

Dangerous features a one-armed, science-loving, superpowered, home-schooled Latina protagonist. How’s that for original?
If you want to learn more about the book (and particularly its portrayal of disability), Mindy Rhiger reviewed Dangerous at Disability in Kidlit here, and interviewed author Shannon Hale here. Check it out!

We loved Dangerous, and think you will too! It’s a little different from Shannon Hale’s fairy tale-based books, but don’t let that stop you. It’s got just as much smart-girl power as Goose Girl, Princess Academy, or (@StacyLWhitman’s favorite) Book of a Thousand Days, but set in the near-contemporary US about a girl who goes to space camp and discovers world-changing mysteries. Full of excitement and adventure!

tubooks:

disabilityinkidlit:

weneeddiversebooks:

#WeNeedDiverseBooks summer reading series! If You Liked Fantastic Four, try Dangerous by Shannon Hale because both feature superpowers and adventures in space!

Dangerous features a one-armed, science-loving, superpowered, home-schooled Latina protagonist. How’s that for original?

If you want to learn more about the book (and particularly its portrayal of disability), Mindy Rhiger reviewed Dangerous at Disability in Kidlit here, and interviewed author Shannon Hale here. Check it out!

We loved Dangerous, and think you will too! It’s a little different from Shannon Hale’s fairy tale-based books, but don’t let that stop you. It’s got just as much smart-girl power as Goose Girl, Princess Academy, or (@StacyLWhitman’s favorite) Book of a Thousand Days, but set in the near-contemporary US about a girl who goes to space camp and discovers world-changing mysteries. Full of excitement and adventure!

9 notes

Team Janae and the Ice Bucket Challenge

Last night about 100 people in our neighborhood gathered to take the #IceBucketChallenge. The idea is, either donate $100 to ALS research or let someone douse you with a bucket of ice water (though you could do both!).

One of my best friends, Janae, is living with ALS. Here she is (on the left) with Team Janae in the background. Before ALS, Janae was a runner, and she still is driven, stubborn, intelligent, fierce, funny, and wonderful. Team Janae runs races in her name in support of ALS research.

Here her cute, retired parents get doused with buckets of ice water.

Janae and friends react to her parents’ freezing baptism. What a remarkable group of women this is, each so talented, such a force in their individual way.

Here I take the Ice Bucket Challenge myself and call out Ricky Whittle.

11 notes

I take the #IceBucketChallenge in support of ALS research and call out Ricky Whittle do take the challenge too! Take your own, challenge someone else, or donate to ALS research and help us fight ALS.

28 notes

Anonymous asked: I can't get enough of Princess Academy. I really can't. It's one of my absolutely favorite books ever. But when I recommended it to my sister, she took one look at the title and told me she didn't want to read it because simply by looking at the word "Princess" (and the cover picture of the handholding mountain girls) she knew it was a Barbie book. *huffs in exasperation* It's so silly and kind of annoying. Did you get a lot of this audience turn-off when PA came out?

Thank you! And yes. And continue to get it. It turns out “princess” is a polarizing word. I didn’t think much about the title when I was writing it. I used Princess Academy as a working title from the beginning, always thinking that we’d change it before it was published. I was neither aware of the vitriol aimed at princess stories from some nor the draw princess stories earned from others. I just used the term “princess academy” a lot in the book but didn’t think we’d keep that title since it could seem misleading. After all, there are no actual princesses in the story. (or are they all princesses?) If I did it all over again, maybe I’d try a different title, I don’t know. But I like how the story has a typical princess story title and yet works against that formula. The unexpectedness of the story vs. the title works for it in the long run. Despite the title, this book has been my most successful. I have to thank word-of-mouth for that!

32 notes

Just got this email from my husband, who is working in the other room:

If anyone is concerned about shouting, this is a brief transcript of a call I just received (the second from this number that I had earlier determined to be a scammer)

Me: Di-ga.
Them: …Yes, this is Michael from Microsoft Support. May I ask who I am speaking to?
M: My English is no good.
T: I’m sorry to hear that. I am calling about a virus
M: UN VEE-ROOS?
T: Yes, a terrible virus on your computer
M: UN TAY-REE-BOOL VEE-ROOS?
T: We can remove that virus for you if you can provide us with some information
M: Me gustan los virus
T: I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t catch that. If you could
M: ME GUSTAN LOS VIRUS
T: Is there a better time that I could call? I can tell you that it is in your best
M: AY! LOS PUERCOS! ESTAN SUELTOS!
T: Your best interest to save your
M: NO! AUXILIO! AUXILIO! ME ESTAN COMIENDO!
T: Your
M: AIEEEEEE! [I hang up]

28,907 notes

I’m definitely Pro-Selfie. I think that anybody who’s Anti-Selfie is really just a hater. Because, truthfully, why shouldn’t people take pictures of themselves ? When I’m on Instagram and I see that somebody took a picture of themselves, I’m like ‘Thank You’.
I don’t need to see a picture of the sky, the trees, plants. There’s only one you.
I could Google image search ‘the sky’ and I would probably see beautiful images to knock my socks off. But I can’t google, you know ‘what does my friend look like today?’
For you to be able to take a picture of yourself that you feel good enough about to share with the world - I think that’s a great thing
Ezra Koenig being the most adorable human being ever (via damnthosebands)

(via rainbowrowell)

11,927 notes

racebending:

medievalpoc:

leeandlow submitted to medievalpoc:

The Diversity Gap in the highest grossing science fiction and fantasy films. Sad, right? You can see the full study here.

 I highly recommend reading the entire article. 
from the infographic:
Among the top 100 domestic grossing films:
only 8% of films star a protagonist of color
of the 8 protagonists of color, all are men; 6 are played by Will Smith and 1 is a cartoon character (Aladdin)
0% of protagonists are women of color
0% of protagonists are LGBTQ
1% of protagonists are people with a disability

Lee & Low interviewed me about racebending as part of understanding this infographic.
Very sad that Medievalpoc got so much backlash simply for sharing this image.

racebending:

medievalpoc:

leeandlow submitted to medievalpoc:

The Diversity Gap in the highest grossing science fiction and fantasy films. Sad, right? You can see the full study here.

I highly recommend reading the entire article.

from the infographic:

Among the top 100 domestic grossing films:

  • only 8% of films star a protagonist of color
  • of the 8 protagonists of color, all are men; 6 are played by Will Smith and 1 is a cartoon character (Aladdin)
  • 0% of protagonists are women of color
  • 0% of protagonists are LGBTQ
  • 1% of protagonists are people with a disability

Lee & Low interviewed me about racebending as part of understanding this infographic.

Very sad that Medievalpoc got so much backlash simply for sharing this image.

(via yahighway)