Category Archives: Notes From DiYA HQ

We’re going on hiatus …

Dear DiYA followers,

This is just a little note to let you know that we’re going on hiatus for awhile. We are a volunteer-run blog with only two volunteers, Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo, and we are both about to head into holiday madness combined with many book writing deadlines, which means we’re going to have to put DiYA on the backburner for now.

In the meantime, you can still find plenty of diverse books out there! Here are some places you can go to find your next diverse reads:

If you’d like to keep up with what we’re doing, you can also follow us on twitter (@cindypon, @malindalo) or tumblr ( @cindypon, @malindalo). And of course, all of DiYA’s archives are available here on our website.

Thanks for reading!

Malinda and Cindy

Diversity in YA is going on vacation for August…

… because it’s August! And August means it’s time to chill out and enjoy the long hot days of summer (unless you live in San Francisco like Malinda, in which case it means it’s time to make winter stews and shiver in the fog, but you’ll enjoy it because you live in San Francisco!), so Diversity in YA is going on vacation, too.

What this means is that we are going on a much lighter posting schedule. We’ll still post new releases every week, and we have a couple of posts already scheduled in the queue, but we will be much less present online this month.

Never fear, though, we will be back in September! Have a great August, everyone!

Malinda and Cindy

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. 🙂

Thank you for the awesome support! And please don’t be shy about getting in touch.

Diversity in YA has been back in action for just over three weeks now, and we’ve been totally thrilled by the reception we’ve gotten. Helloooo tumblr followers! You are the best!

We just wanted to say thank you for a phenomenal re-launch and we are so excited to keep sharing these awesome diverse books with everybody. Thanks also to those of you who have asked us questions and submitted potential links/lists/etc. In fact, this is a good time to say: Please don’t hesitate to ask us anything or submit a post/book recommendation/awesome link related to diverse YA books. We can’t do this alone!

If you know of a great book coming out that you think we should feature, definitely do not assume that we know about it. We are doing our best to keep up with the business and to seek out new titles, but every year thousands of books are published, and lots of books with “diverse” content is not marketed as “diverse.” So a lot of the times we have to guess: Did that cover copy really mean that the main character is gay? (Not every book cover looks like Two Boys Kissing.) Is that character actually Asian? (Not every Asian character has an Asian last name.) Is that dystopian thriller that has nothing to do with race actually about a person with brown skin? (We hope so!)

These are things we can’t always know from reading the cover copy or looking at book covers. So please: Tell us about them. And don’t be shy if you’re the author — you are the one who knows best what’s in your book. We can’t thank you enough for helping to spread the news.


Malinda and Cindy

Diversity in YA is baaaack! On Tumblr!

Remember back in 2011 when we (YA authors Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo) launched Diversity in YA, a national book tour and website that celebrated diversity in middle grade and young adult fiction? Well, we shuttered that site at the end of 2011 because we only planned to do it for one year, but … people kept asking us to talk about diversity! (A wonderful surprise!) And we realized that Tumblr is an awesome platform, and maybe we could continue DiYA in Tumblr form.

So here we are! DiYA on Tumblr is a little different than our previous website, but some things are the same. We’re still here to celebrate diversity in young adult fiction. “Diversity,” to us, encompasses race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability, but there’s wiggle room, too. We want to celebrate books that are outside the mainstream; we want to bring the margin to the center.

What’s different? Well, since we’re on Tumblr, you can ask us questions! You can also submit posts. If you know of a diverse YA title coming out, or you have an idea for a great list of diverse YA titles, please submit. We want to know!

Another different thing: Back in our original form, we included diverse middle grade books. Since we’re both YA writers (and readers) and we don’t know much about MG, that was always a challenge for us. (We didn’t want to get it wrong!) So here on Tumblr, we’re going to focus on YA. That doesn’t mean we won’t also blog about diverse MG titles when we find out about them (submit!), but we’ve decided that it makes more sense for DiYA to live up to its name: Diversity in YA.

We think this is going to be fun. We hope you’ll enjoy our new incarnation on Tumblr! Any questions? Just ask.

Malinda and Cindy

DiYA Comes to an End

Malinda Lo: Cindy, can you believe 2011 is over?

Cindy Pon: No, I can’t! It is crazy!

Malinda: I know! Can you believe Diversity in YA is over?

Cindy: Well, that I can. We’d been planning it for so long—it was really great to finally see it all come together. I’m sure I can talk you into doing it again, right? ☺

Cindy Pon (left) and Malinda Lo in October 2011

Malinda:Haha! No comment. You remember when we started thinking about this project, we decided to do it for one year.

Cindy: Yes. You did such a fantastic job on the website too, Malinda!

Malinda: Thank you! It was fun, but a lot of work. So I’ll be glad to take a break from this in 2012.

Cindy: Well, the site will remain online, but we will not be publishing new content in the foreseeable future.

Malinda: Yes, everything we’ve done will stay up here for the next year at least. We’ve done a lot! Can you remember when we first started inviting authors to be part of the tour? Who was the first author you invited?

Cindy: Gene Yang. I ended the email by saying: Please say yes! And he replied, yes! Later he said, how could I say no? You said please say yes! (If only I could get my way in Real Life so easily like this always, ha!)

Malinda: I think that’s how you got a lot of authors to say yes. You asked nicely. ☺

Cindy: Ha! I did! Thank you Gene, for being the very first author to take the leap with us. He was part of our kick off Diversity in YA panel in San Francisco at the public library and we started the tour to a packed house.


DiYA San Francisco, L to R: Jon Yang, Ellen Oh (Kearny Street Workshop), Malinda Lo, Betsy Levine (San Francisco Public Library), Cindy Pon, Gene Yang, Claire Light (KSW)

Malinda: That event was so great. It was amazing to see a whole room with so many Asian American faces! That was definitely due to our partnership with the Kearny Street Workshop. And it was fun to do the panel with Gene and Jon Yang; I think it might be one of my favorite panels. What other authors do you have fond memories of inviting?

Cindy: Dia Reeves! I’d been a friend of hers online for quite some time. Then I read her debut, Bleeding Violet, and officially became a fan. Dia, however, is notorious for being a bit shy and reluctant to do author events. But of course, I had to ask. And she said yes! It wasn’t until the actual event in Austin that I found out she had flown to be there, and that it was her first official author event. I was gob smacked.


DiYA Austin, L to R: Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Dia Reeves, Varian Johnson, Jo Whittemore, Bethany Hegedus, Cindy Pon, Malinda Lo

Malinda: I know! I couldn’t believe it! That was when I realized that Texas is really big, because Dia also lives in Texas. I thought she’d just drive!

Cindy: I was so thrilled she came. Dia totally held her own during the panel and afterwards said she had a lot of fun. Let’s do it again some time, Dia? ☺

Malinda: I think one of your favorite invites, though, had to be Francisco X. Stork.

Cindy: Yes! I was reading and being amazed by Francisco Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World, when I happened to flip to the back flap with his brief author bio, which indicated that he lived near the Boston area. We had just decided on locations of the tour, and I somehow knew in my heart that the Diversity in YA tour was something Francisco would want to participate in. He replied within a day to say yes.

Malinda: That was so great. I think that we were both honored and thrilled by the enthusiasm all these authors showed in agreeing to be part of our tour.

Cindy: We literally built the tour one author at a time. With one librarian (thank you San Francisco, Cambridge and Poway!) and one bookseller (thank you BookPeople, Barbara’s Books, Books of Wonder and Yellow Book Road!) at a time. Without all the support, the enthusiasm, and the yeses along the way, this endeavor never could have been.

Malinda: What were some of your favorite moments of the tour?

Cindy: I’ll never forget meeting Nnedi Okorafor for the first time, and having the pleasure of hearing her read from Akata Witch. Then discussing writing and craft with her after our signing. I was so thrilled for her when Who Fears Death won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel this past October. I clapped loud for Nnedi!

Malinda: Nnedi is a formidable woman! I really enjoyed meeting her, too.


DiYA Chicago, L to R: Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, Nnedi Okorafor, Cindy Pon, Malinda Lo

Cindy: The Cambridge stop was probably one of my favorites. And meeting Kristin Cashore beforehand was amazing! She was so nice to attend. I think the photo of you, me and Kristin Cashore was one of your happiest smiling ones, Malinda. Hee!

Malinda: That was probably one of my top moments. I was so amazed she came! And you know I’m a huge fan. ☺ The Cambridge stop overall was great.


DiYA Boston, L to R: Sarah Rees Brennan, Francisco X. Stork, Deva Fagan, Malinda Lo, Holly Black, Roger Sutton, Cindy Pon, Maya Escobar (Cambridge Public Library)

Cindy: To be on a panel with so many authors whom I considered friends and whose books I loved and writing I admired. While being asked incisive questions by Roger Sutton of The Horn Book.

Malinda: Shout out to Roger Sutton! We also tried to lighten things up by adding these “lightning rounds” of questions at the end of the serious talk, remember? We came up with these silly things like “Jacob or Edward?”

Cindy: Yes! I’ll never forget moderating the panel at the LGBT Center in NYC, and trying to facilitate a fun lightning round where the authors gave one- or two-word answers, but it somehow turned into the “pausing round,” much to my exasperation. (It was pretty hilarious.) Jaqueline Woodson said she had to ask someone who Jacob and Edward were. Haha! (And I vote Jacob, of course.)


DiYA at the NY LGBT Center, L to R: Malinda Lo, Cris Beam, Jacqueline Woodson, David, Levithan, Cindy Pon

Malinda: Yeah, we all were probably thinking: I will never have the chance to edit my response. Hmm. [pause] I really enjoyed the LGBT Center panel, too. It was really fun to get to talk about queer YA with other queer YA authors — that doesn’t happen too often. And the event at Books of Wonder was great, too!

Cindy: Being invited to Jacqueline Woodson’s lovely home after our largest panel in NYC was such a highlight. And chatting with Rita Williams-Garcia, Matt de la Pena and Cheryl Klein (who moderated wonderfully); I felt such camaraderie with my fellow writers and book lovers. And also very relieved after a staggering week of travel that it was all over, but so proud. Our tour schedule was brutal. And it went without a hitch!


The audience at Books of Wonder (click to enlarge)

Malinda: Yes, New York was the end of our May tour, and I was totally exhausted, too. And then, several months later in October, we did a last event in San Diego! I think that event featured the absolute best question from an audience member on the whole tour. Remember that?

Cindy: Um, highlight of my career as an author! When the most adorable thirteen-year-old boy raised his hand and asked: “What’s a eunuch?” And Holly Black leaned over and whispered: “You so deserve that.” Haha! Then the same boy got Silver Phoenix signed after our talk.


Signing books at the Poway Library, San Diego

Malinda: That was hilarious. Thank you, Cindy, for organizing so much of the tour and harassing—I mean inviting—all those fabulous authors to join us.

Cindy: Ha! Thank you for being a wonderful friend and co-conspirator through it all. I can’t think of a better person to have tackled this fun and challenging project with! *fuzzy hug*

Malinda: *fuzzy hug? gives in* It’s because you’re such a Virgo! I couldn’t have done it without someone who couldn’t make all those numbered lists.

Cindy: Ha! I don’t know, you’re pretty organized yourself as a Leo. I loved reading all the monthly round ups of diverse books and the guest posts for the website, Malinda. I still remember just choosing a logo and tagline… So when do you think we should do it again? ☺

Malinda: No comment. ☺

Cindy: Never say never! It couldn’t be worse than a fuzzy hug? *grins*

Malinda and Cindy would like to thank all of you book lovers, from all walks of life, for supporting the Diversity in YA tour in 2011. It truly couldn’t have been as much of a success without your help and enthusiasm!