Monthly Archives: January 2014

New Releases – January 2014

More Than Good Enough by Crissa-Jean Chappell (Flux)

Book description: Trent Osceola’s life is turned upside down when his mother announces that he will be moving to the Miccosukee reservation to live with his father, who was recently released from prison. Only half Miccosukee, Trent feels alienated from rez society and starts to question who he really is. When he changes schools, he reconnects with Pippa, a childhood friend who moved away, and together they tackle the class assignment to make a film of their lives. When he starts to see himself through Pippa’s eyes, Trent’s not sure he likes what he sees. Will he ever be good enough for the rez, for school, and for her?

Fake ID by Lamar Giles (HarperCollins Amistad)

“This engrossing thriller blends gritty crime storytelling with solid, realistic family drama. … Giles ably handles multiple themes, not shying away from the racial tension that exists in the small southern town (Nick is African-American, and Eli and Reya are Latino), while avoiding making it a primary focus. This mature crime story expands beyond high school walls to address the challenges of maintaining meaningful relationships and the cost of loyalty.” — Publishers Weekly

Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave by Shyima Hall with Lisa Wysocky (Simon and Schuster)

“This memoir of modern domestic slavery ends with hope and determination, as young author Hall (born Shyima El-Sayed Hassan) is “one of the fortunate 2 percent” to be freed from servitude.” — Kirkus

Secret (Elemental Series #4) by Brigid Kemmerer (KTeen)

Book description: Keep his brother’s business going or the Merricks will be out on the street. Keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his own twin–or he’ll lose his family. Keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who’s supposed to be his “girlfriend’s” partner. Of course there’s also the homicidal freak Quinn has taken to hanging around, and the Elemental Guide counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers.

There’s a storm coming. From all sides. And then some. Nick Merrick, can you keep it together?

Shadowplay by Laura Lam (Strange Chemistry)

Book description: The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes. He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates. People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus–the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond the card tricks and illusions he’s perfecting… A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.

Beware of Boys (Charly’s Epic Fiascos Series #4) by Kelli London (KTeen Dafina)

Book description: Reality TV stardom gets way too personal for Charly St. James when three of the world’s hottest heartthrobs want her to be their dream come true…

Now that Charly’s a star, she wants to give back any way she can. So she’s made The Extreme Dream Team’s newest mission to help three sizzling celebs’ charitable foundation build a super swanky retreat for teen girls who’ve battled an illness. But keeping things running smoothly is next to impossible when too many ideas–and egos–collide…

Handsome singer Mēkel is dazzling Charly with a chance to join the glitterati. Boxer Lex has powerful hood moves and charm she can’t resist. And hanging around movie heartthrob Faizon has Charlie feeling movie magic. The harder Charly struggles to keep things on track, the more they’re coming apart–especially when her kinda boyfriend and co-star, Liam, starts competing for her attention. Now, Charly needs to figure out fast what–and who–she really wants most…

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson (Dial)

“Nelson crafts a stirring autobiography in verse, focusing on her childhood in the 1950s, when her family frequently moved between military bases. … An intimate perspective on a tumultuous era and an homage to the power of language.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Diamonds and Deceit by Leila Rasheed (Disney-Hyperion)

“In the second installment of this soapy series, the focus shifts to Lady Ada’s secret half sister, Rose, who was raised as a housemaid at Somerton and elevated to a member of the family at the conclusion of Cinders & Sapphires (2013). … Add this to the list of recommended reading for Downton Abbey enthusiasts.” — Kirkus

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum)

“The “greatest” in the title doesn’t just refer to the scene in which 15-year-old Ali defends a friend with Tourette syndrome by throwing a winning punch at a party—it also hints at what an accomplishment Reynolds’s novel is. Set in the non-“Cosby” part of Brooklyn, in the neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, the story centers around the party incident and the evolving relationship between Ali, his best friend Noodles, and Noodles’s brother Needles (the one with “the syndrome”). … Snappy descriptions (the barbershop is the “black man’s country club”) and a hard-won ending round out a funny and rewarding read.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos (Egmont)

“Harry Jones opens his story by submitting a 250-word essay to a college admissions board-only he goes a book length over the limit. In so doing he recounts his traumatic past: the terrifying scene in which neighborhood bullies tied him to a tree and left him as a storm rolled in…and how the tree was struck by lightning, leaving him with disfiguring burn scars all over his face. He then describes his physical and mental recovery. … Distinguished in every way.” — School Library Journal, starred review

Diversity Links – January 2014

We link to a lot of things over on Tumblr, but in case you missed them, here they are rounded up for you all in one place:

More YA and YA-friendly Books About LGBT Characters of Color

By Malinda Lo

Last October, I posted a list of YA books about LGBT characters of color. It’s been tough to find more books, so these additions expand the goal slightly and are about (1) a queer person of color protagonist; (2) a queer protagonist in a romantic relationship with a POC; or (3) a main character dealing with queer POC parents as the central story line.

Please note: Not all of these were published as “young adult” novels; some are technically “adult” novels but are about young queer people of color coming of age. Links go to Barnes & Noble; descriptions are from Worldcat.

lgbtpoc-clare-banechroniclesalllgbtpoc1 lgbtpoc2 lgbtpoc3 lgbtpoc4

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

Ten short stories about bisexual, half-Asian warlock Magnus Bane from Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices trilogies.

Angry Management by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books)

A collection of short stories featuring characters from earlier books by Chris Crutcher.

Happy Families by Tanita S. Davis (Random House Children’s Books)

In alternating chapters, sixteen-year-old twins Ysabel and Justin share their conflicted feelings as they struggle to come to terms with their father’s decision to dress as a woman.

Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole (Bella Books; originally published by HarperTeen)

Laura, a seventeen-year-old Cuban American girl, is thrown out of her house when her mother discovers she is a lesbian, but after trying to change her heart and hide from the truth, Laura finally comes to terms with who she is and learns to love and respect herself.

The Culling by Steven dos Santos (Flux)

In a futuristic world ruled by a totalitarian government called the Establishment, Lucian “Lucky” Spark and four other teenagers are recruited for the Trials. They must compete not only for survival but to save the lives of their Incentives, family members whose lives depend on how well they play the game.

For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Peter, the only boy among four siblings born to Chinese immigrants, is convinced he is a girl and must fight the confines of a small town as well as the expectations of his parents to forge his own path into adulthood.

Mariposa Club by Rigoberto Gonzalez (Lethe Press)

Four gay high school boys start a club, and when one of them is targeted in a homophobic incident, the entire school turns to them as a symbol of grief, fear and hope.

Sister Mischief by Laura Goode (Candlewick)

Esme Rockett, also known as MC Ferocious, rocks her suburban Minnesota Christian high school with more than the hip-hop music she makes with best friends Marcy (DJ SheStorm) and Tess (The ConTessa) when she develops feelings for her co-MC, Rowie (MC Rohini).

A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar (Penguin)

Nidali, the rebellious daughter of an Egyptian-Greek mother and a Palestinian father, narrates her story from her childhood in Kuwait, her early teenage years in Egypt (to where she and her family fled the 1990 Iraqi invasion), to her family’s last flight to Texas. 

Chulito by Charles Rice-Gonzales (Magnus Books)

Set against a vibrant South Bronx neighborhood and the youth culture of Manhattan, Chulito is a coming-of-age, coming out love story of a sexy Latino man and the colorful characters that populate his block.

Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal (Kensington Books)

Satyal’s lovely coming-of-age debut charts an Indian-American boy’s transformation from mere mortal to Krishnaji, the blue-skinned Hindu deity. Twelve-year-old Kiran Sharma’s a bit of an outcast: he likes ballet and playing with his mother’s makeup. He also reveres his Indian heritage and convinces himself that the reason he’s having trouble fitting in is because he’s actually the 10th reincarnation of Krishnaji. He plans to come out to the world at the 1992 Martin Van Buren Elementary School talent show, and much of the book revels in his comical preparations as he creates his costume, plays the flute and practices his dance moves to a Whitney Houston song. But as the performance approaches, something strange happens: Kiran’s skin begins to turn blue. Satyal writes with a graceful ease, finding new humor in common awkward pre-teen moments and giving readers a delightful and lively young protagonist.

Street Dreams by Tama Wise (Bold Strokes Books)

Tyson Rua has more than his fair share of problems growing up in South Auckland. Working a night job to support his mother and helping bring up his two younger brothers is just the half of it. His best friend Rawiri is falling afoul of a broken home, and now Tyson’s fallen in love at first sight. Only thing is, it’s another guy. Living life on the sidelines of the local hip-hop scene, Tyson finds that to succeed in becoming a local graffiti artist or in getting the man of his dreams, he’s going to have to get a whole lot more involved. And that means more problems, the least of which is the leader of the local rap crew he’s found himself running with. Love, life, and hip-hop never do things by half.

Love & Lies: Marisol’s Story by Ellen Wittlinger (Simon & Schuster) (America Latina lesbian MC)

When Marisol, a self-confident eighteen-year-old lesbian, moves to Cambridge, Massachusetts to work and try to write a novel, she falls under the spell of her beautiful but deceitful writing teacher, while also befriending a shy, vulnerable girl from Indiana.

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson (Penguin)

Almost-fourteen-year-old Melanin Sun’s comfortable, quiet life is shattered when his mother reveals she has fallen in love with a woman.

Thanks to Daisy Porter of Queer YA for many suggestions.

5 Things I Learned While Writing Charm & Strange

By Stephanie Kuehn

1.  ‘Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’ and other things that aren’t true

Contrary to what anyone else might say, I don’t think you need to read a ton of popular YA books or watch all the popular teen shows or movies in order to write a young adult novel. That’s not to say I don’t read YA—I do—but what has been far more influential for me is spending time with young people and caring about what’s going on in their lives. Plus, if everyone read the same books and watched the same things, we would generate a pretty homogenous pool of literature. How boring would that be? Diversity in thought is a good thing. So read widely and watch…something. Have it be what you love. Or what inspires or challenges you. Go on, break the rules. Defy popular belief. This is art, after all. Not science.

2. Contemporary YA doesn’t have to have romance

If you’ve read Charm & Strange, then you know that it does not have a central romantic storyline. There are many reasons for this, the least of which being that it would’ve felt really, really inappropriate.

While I was writing it, I didn’t worry about whether the lack of romance would impact the story’s marketability. Actually, I didn’t think about marketability at all, because I’d recently attended a conference where it had been drilled into me that “boy-narrated contemporary YA doesn’t sell.” Given that insight, when I wrote Charm & Strange, I simply wrote it formyself. When it was done and I loved it, however, that’s when I began to wonder if that would somehow be a dealbreaker. But it wasn’t. No one ever tried to talk me into adding a romance to the story. Not my agent. Not my editor. No one.

3. L’art pour l’art

We all have differences, every single one of us. I spent much of my childhood and adolescence feeling uncomfortably different. As a biracial (black/Hispanic) kid adopted by a Jewish dad and Irish Catholic mom, it was hard for me to find a group that I fit into. I was not quite anything and sometimes that felt a little like being nothing. Because of this (and plenty of other things), I had a tendency to define myself more by where I didn’t fit, than where I did.

While I didn’t always like that experience of feeling like not quite anything, I’m old enough now that I view my differences differently. I see them as personal strengths, not weaknesses. I’m not negative space, defined by what I’m not, but by who I am. I think and feel about things in my own way. That’s pretty cool.

My advice to other writers is that if you ever feel like you don’t fit in somewhere, make note of that difference. It may hurt. It may be unjust. It’s why what you have to say matters.

4. Suspense and Damages

I am endlessly fascinated by the relationship between suspense and story structure. Although I’m not a firm believer in it, I usually have Vonnegut’s “to hell with suspense” directive in the back of my mind as I try to deconstruct how/why certain narratives do and don’t work for me. As I was drafting this book, I happened to be watching the first season of the television show Damages. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I think that’s where the freedom to play with the past/present structure of the story came from. Damages jumps back and forth in an even more cryptic way than Charm & Strange (the story is grounded in the past and the flash-forwards unfold backwards), but it’s done with great effect, building high-wire tension until you have to know what happens.

5. Scrivener is not a good tool for me

I think Scrivener can be really cool. I have a friend who uses it and swears by it. I bought it after I had signed with my now agent and was preparing to revise Charm & Strange. He’d asked me to make some changes that I knew would be challenging due to the aforementioned past/present chapter switch of the story structure.

I excitedly put my chapters into Scrivener and realigned them by timeline for continuity so that I could work on the revisions. And…it sucked. Whatever gestalt I had of the story I lost once it was broken up into tiny pieces. I tried revising, but the pacing was all off. The result felt clunky and weird. I felt clunky and weird. I didn’t know what I was doing. So I took my manuscript, popped the whole thing back into Word, and breathed a sigh of relief.

Well, the baby’s gone out with the bathwater, I’m sure. But that’s how I work, on the scale of the whole. I can’t make a tiny change in chapter 27 without rereading the whole manuscript to see if it feels right. It’s a slow process, but it’s my process, and it’s one that I enjoy.

Thank you for having me!

Stephanie Kuehn holds degrees in linguistics and sport psychology, and is currently working toward a doctorate in clinical psychology. She lives in Northern California with her husband, their three children, and a joyful abundance of pets. When she’s not writing, she’s running. Or reading. Or dreaming. Her debut young adult novel, CHARM & STRANGE, is out now. COMPLICIT will be published in 2014.

Do-It-Yourself/The Uhura Paradox

By Lamar Giles


Anyone ever notice that the acronym for Diversity in YA (DiYA) is really close to DIY, as in Do-It-Yourself? Maybe you haven’t. PROBABLY you haven’t. I’m weird. Oh, OH…and in an episode of Star Trek that you might have missed, Lt. Uhura turned into a white lady.

(This is the part where you stare at the screen like, “Huh-wha???”)

Bear with me. I do have a point.

Here’s the brief on what happened. A company called ThinkGeek produces a line of popular sci-fi/fantasy decals, the likes of which you’ve probably seen in the back window of some minivan. A family of four (for example, a father/mother/son/daughter combo) who love Star Wars might have Anakin, Amidala, and tiny Luke and Leia decals as representations of themselves. Cute. Whatever the family dynamic is, there’s conceivably a way to mix and match decals to fit the unit. Unless, of course, the family features a black intergalactic linguist or an Asian starship helmsman (yeah, Mr. Sulu got hit, too). Because, for reasons that may be perfectly innocent, the company produced all the characters in the Star Trek decal set with the same skin tone. White. Well, except for the aliens, who were their canon-accurate blue, green, and brown shades.

Innocent. Perfectly.

Further details can be found in the link above, so I won’t get into the fallout (big, loud) and the expla-pology (typical) that followed. However, I will tell you what THAT has to do with you, and me, and this blog, and YA books, and doing-it-yourself.

We’ve seen incidents of skin color bias —“Whitewashing”—our entire lives. For most of my life, there were no outlets to express frustration over it outside of my living room or dorm room with like-minded friends who were awake enough to see it, too. Only in recent years with rise of the internet, and social media, have I seen my living room expand to the size of the entire planet. And those conversations can now be had in 140 character bursts, with friendlies and not-so-friendlies alike. Each time a “Whitewashing” incident occurs, and the hurt parties become vocal, I see a mix of responses that are so similar to the last incident, I can’t help but wonder if the posters/commenters are using copy/paste.

“There are bigger issues in the world; you people are searching for things to be angry about.”

“It’s probably an honest mistake. Most people today don’t care about color.”

“Everything isn’t about race. The media wants to create a divisive environment, because, you know, ratings.”

And so on…

There’s a simple translation that fits every one of those statements, and it goes like this: “I’ve never seen the problem because it’s not my problem. I’d prefer if we not talk about this again.”

That’s not a hostile translation. It’s not a statement that would likely be spoken in anger. It. Just. Is.

However, it’s a request I cannot oblige. Here’s what I’ve learned: there’s no value in being quiet about the terrible, horrible, mind-blowing lack of diversity in our (SIGH) decals, or TV, or movies, or…books.

Perhaps I’m a little late to the party, because it appears Cindy and Malinda figured this out a while ago when they started DiYA. I’m speculating here, and they’re more than free to correct me, but I imagine that their efforts to spotlight the diverse work in our field is due, in some part, to the realization that no one sticks up for you, before you. If you want people to sit up, pay attention, and speak out about an issue you find important, you must first Do-It-Yourself.

DiYA is DIY in my favorite form. The site spotlights great and diverse work that will not get the same coverage and enthusiasm everywhere. The work featured here may not be what you see on the NYT Bestseller lists. There may be no TV and movie adaptations because the characters don’t look like the magazine cover models in your grocery store, or the actors in primetime. Not yet. Soon, though. If you push, stay vocal, and DIY.

If no one is talking about the lack of gay characters in your favorite genre…DIY

If you want to see a book with a strong protagonist who happens to have a disability…DIY

If you want everyone who’s ever felt marginalized to tell the decision makers, and the gatekeepers, and their fellow consumers that they will not remain silent when they spot missed opportunities to fill the diversity void…DIY.

I wrote a book called FAKE ID, it’s available now. It’s a mystery about a black boy who’s a modern, smart, badass (with a sensitive streak). His name is Nick, nobody else was going to write him, so I did it myself. I think he’s awesome, and I hope you’re willing to give him a try this spring. In any case, should he one day be featured on a decal, they better get his shading right. Or, I’m going to have something to say about.

Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be the only one.

Lamar “L. R.” Giles writes stories for teens and adults. He’s never met a genre he didn’t like, having penned science fiction, fantasy, horror, and noir thrillers, among others. He is a Virginia native, a Hopewell High Blue Devil, and an Old Dominion University Monarch. He resides in Chesapeake, Virginia, with his wife.

The Diversity Struggle for a POC Author

By Lydia Kang

Author Lydia Kang

I’m a POC. Person of color. My parents were born in Korea, but I was born and raised in suburban Maryland. Until seventh grade, I was the only POC in my entire grade and for several years, the whole elementary school. In middle school, half the class was Black, but I was still the only Asian student until I hit private school in ninth grade.

Sorry for the info dump, but there is a point, I promise.

When I wrote Control (Dial BFYR/Penguin), I confess that writing POC characters wasn’t a priority for me. My main character, Zelia, is of Jewish heritage (reflecting, perhaps, that half the kids in my grade school were Jewish). Creating the other POC characters (Hex, who is East Asian and Blink, who is a Black French Canadian) took a lot of thought, second-guessing, and work.

I’m jealous of other authors who effortlessly make diversity a priority in their writing. But the truth is, it’s a struggle for me. You’d think that because I was a POC myself, it would be easy to integrate different cultures into my writing.

kang-controlIt’s not.

Sometimes I think that my whole childhood was whitewashed. For years, I was asked if I was Chinese or Japanese, and got used to the funny looks when I told them I was Korean. It was humiliating. Clearly, I was failing some sort of multiple-choice categorization amongst my peers. I was horribly bullied. The books I read had heroines that were almost always white. I resented being different. I hated how I looked. I didn’t tolerate my culture unless it involved food.

It took a very long time before I embraced and loved my Korean heritage. I had to fight to undo the external and self-inflicted internal conditioning that I experienced as a kid.

So for those of you who are putting diversity into your books, I applaud you. But I also want people to understand that just because you’re a POC, writing diversity doesn’t come easily, like we were born knowing what or how to write. I’m still learning, still processing, and still trying hard to un-whitewash my own writing because of the childhood I experienced.

I believe my childhood would have been different if the books I read had more POC characters, and if I’d had the comfort (even fictional) that I wasn’t alone. For the sake of our readers, who consciously or unconsciously see real life and struggles and normalcy reflected in our books, we need to fight the tendencies to keep our characters’ races “safe.”

I promise to keep working on it. If you’re a writer, I hope you’ll work on it too. And if you’re a reader, I hope you support books with POC characters. Because it does make a difference.

I’m living proof.

Lydia Kang is a young adult fiction author, part-time doctor, salt-lover, geek-girl, and hyphen addict. Her debut YA sci-fi novel, Control (Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin) is available now and its sequel Catalyst (Kathy Dawson Books/Penguin) arrives Winter 2015. Visit her website at

5 Things Laura Lam Learned While Writing SHADOWPLAY and PANTOMIME

By Laura Lam

Author Laura Lam

Shadowplay’s a sequel, so I’m going to cheat and write about what I’ve learned writing both of them, as they’re so intertwined.

I learned:

1. Everything I know about intersex issues.

It took me two years to finally gather the courage to seriously write about Micah Grey. Before that, I was scared, and felt I didn’t know enough. I was 19 when I came up with the idea to have a character that firmly straddled the gender divide. I wanted to write about a girl who disguises herself as a boy, but that’s not necessarily a disguise either. Growing up in the Bay Area of CA, I knew more about gender and sexuality than your average person, perhaps, but I was still ignorant and aware of that.

So I researched, tentatively as first. I learned that “hermaphrodite” is a woefully outdated term that shouldn’t be used. I learned that children, infants even, are often operated on far before they know which gender they’ll identify as. That children are often taught to hide that they’re intersex, that it’s shameful, or never told at all until their teens or even adulthood. I read books, I watched documentaries. I learned as much as I could. And then I put myself in Micah’s shoes, trying to think how I would react to things if I had been raised as he was, with his challenges. And so, even though I was scared, I knew I had to try and tell his story the best way I could.

Micah is Micah. He’s intersex, of course, but that’s one aspect of who he is. I did my best to make him a fully-realised character with hopes, dreams, frustrations, desires. I don’t think I got everything right, but I sure as hell gave it my best and also tried to subvert some things in the sequel that I didn’t get quite right the first time around.

lam-pantomime2. I know nothing about experiencing racism.

There’s a bit more discussion of race than Pantomime in Shadowplay, and I hope I’ve done an all right job portraying it. Shadowplay has a scene where two characters are racially profiled and heckled. Evidently it’s fairly mild as far as racism goes, but I wouldn’t know. Writing that scene was one of the hardest scenes in the book. I’ve never, ever had to experience that in my everyday life. No one’s looked at me with suspicion by the basis of the colour of my skin. The worst I got was a couple of people derisively calling me “little white girl” in high school in California. That’s nothing compared to what so many people go through every day, in mild and major ways. And, obviously, I know that I don’t deal with racism on a day-to-day basis as a pasty almost-redhead in the 94% Caucasian Scotland where I live now, but writing that scene was very humbling. I was basically slapped in the face with my privilege.

3. I need outlines. A lot.

I wrote Pantomime in dribs and drabs over the course of about 15 months. I didn’t really think that much in terms of overall arcs, so the first draft was more a series of linked scenes with a sort-of-story, but not really. Because I’m an idiot, I subbed that draft before it was really ready, and luckily instead of being summarily rejected, I was given a second chance through a revision request. I went through and made a clear, detailed outline and gutted, rearranged, and transformed the story from its dinky little draft to the book that’s on the shelves today. When writing the sequel, I knew I didn’t have the same amount of time, so I made a really detailed outline. The book deviated from it quite shockingly at times, but having that road map was invaluable. Some people are pantsers, but that makes me too anxious now. I need to have at least a vague idea where I’m going and why in the story.

lam-shadowplay4. World-building is a delicate art.

I’ve spent a lot of time dreaming up the world of Ellada and the Archipelago, but figuring out when and how to feed through the information about it was so difficult. Ellada is a pseudo-Victorian society, with high society and etiquette, a corrupt monarchy, and people starving in the streets. It was once a great empire due to their larger cache of Vestige, which is remnants of technology and/or magic left behind by a vanished advanced civilization called the Alder. But are they really gone?

In the first draft of Pantomime, I basically gave nothing away. I played my hand far too close to my chest. I fed through a lot more in the subsequent drafts, but I was still quite coy. I don’t like to give everything away at once. It’s fun for the reader to come up with their own hypothesis and conclusions. But while it was all right to tease in the first book, in the sequel I definitely had to start giving some answers, and figure out the best way to do that. Yet I still have to leave a few mysteries behind. So, hopefully I got the balance right.

5. Lots about magic, illusion, theatre, and spiritualism

Shadowplay is set on the magician’s stage, whereas the previous book was set in the circus. The change in setting had its challenges, but one of the best parts was diving into research about Victorian magic in particular. I watched The Illusionist and The Prestige (along with reading the book). I read some great books, such as Hiding the Elephant by Jim Steinmeyer (which actually has diagrams explaining a lot of magic tricks), and the Taschen Book of Magic, a GIGANTIC book with huge colour plates and essays on magic. I read about The First Psychic, or Daniel Dunglas Home, who was a spiritualist who was never actually caught out for fraud. I learned of the Fox sisters and their mysterious tappings, the history of magic and the Circle of Magic, a group of magicians working together. I took it all in, stealing little fact here and there and twisting them for my own purposes and my own world. I love doing that.

For more about my research sources, I have a Works Consulted & Resources page on my website.

A final note, and perhaps even a point 6.

Writing these books have changed me in so many ways. I’m a passionate advocate of intersex rights, and diversity in YA. I put myself into so many shoes that I never have to walk in real life: an intersex character, other LBGT characters, characters of different races, or abilities. I think, at the end of the day, writing gives you empathy. You’re always aware that everyone out there is a protagonist of their own story, with their own tales to tell.

Shadowplay and Pantomime are now available. For more on Laura Lam, visit her website, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter @LR_Lam or Tumblr.

Relaunch! Welcome back to

Happy new year, DiYA readers! We are kicking off 2014 by relaunching our official website,

We’ll still be on Tumblr, don’t worry, and Tumblr is where you’ll find us almost daily. We relaunched this website because Tumblr, unfortunately, is truly sucky at being searchable, and we really want DiYA to be a resource where you can find book recommendations for diverse books. So, right here on you’ll be able to easily search for authors, book titles, and book lists.

All of our guest posts are archived here, too, as well as our features on diversity in the BFYA lists and diversity in bestsellers. What you won’t find here are things like reblogs, likes, and most one-off quotes or links — ephemeral stuff that Tumblr does very well. Additionally, on Tumblr we post new releases every week, but here on the website we’ll simply round those up into one “new releases of the month” post at the end of every month. This is partly because it’s easier, and partly because sometimes we miss books along the way, and this is a great way to add those in later.

Finally, we’ve created a DiYA Title Submission Form where you can tell us about new and upcoming diverse YA titles that you are aware of. While we do our best to discover what’s coming out, it can be really hard to figure out whether a book has POC/LGBT/disabled main characters because a lot of the time they’re not on the cover or it’s not mentioned in the jacket copy. So if you’ve read a book or know of a book (authors and publishers, please feel free to use the form too!), you can tell us super easily.

TL;DR: Our website is back up. You can still follow us on Tumblr and you probably won’t notice anything different over there, but if you want to search for something, come back here. 🙂