Newbery award winner and New York Times bestselling author

Posts tagged ‘young adult’

ALA Midwinter in Philly

Just a quick hello from ALA Midwinter in Philly, where I have re-learned how to walk for miles in six-degree weather. Ice, slush, cold toes, runny nose…I’d almost forgotten what it feels like to live in a place that keeps moving regardless of the weather.

As I ride home on the Amtrak, I’m feeling so grateful for some of these favorite moments:

Gigi, Meg, and ABSetting out on the train with two of my dearest writing friends, A.B. Westrick and Gigi Amateau. The whole train was filled with librarians. (I’m looking at you Lucinda Whitehurst, among others!) It had a Hogwarts sort of feel to it.

We decided to stay in a Bed and Breakfast instead of a standard hotel. Cheaper and cooler, in my book. We were at Casa Buono in the Italian section of Philly.  The view from my window.View from Casa Buona on 10th St in Philly

Kat, Dana, and Laura- the goddesses of The Virginia Shop hauled all their quirky literary wares to the Convention Center, fought for parking spots, and kept us all laughing. Here they are during our wonderful Asian dinner at Sampan on S. 13th Street. I also enjoyed a great meal at the Candlewick Press Family Ho-down at Supper (South Street) on Friday night. (Thanks again, Andie!)Laura, Dana, and Kat The Virginia Shop

Jen Delgado of DelawareNo kidding: I met Jen Delgado from Delaware. (No relation, THANK GOD to Yaqui!)

Babe Conquers the WorldAlways cool to see books by friends. Here are the galleys for Sandra and Rich Wallace’s new novel, BABE CONQUERS THE WORLD (Cawkins Creek/Highlights). Fans of strong girls and sports should look for it in March 2014.

Had a chance to meet with so many young people, bloggers, and librarians who had stories to tell me about YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS. A big thanks to the hong people reading and to the librarians who are courageously dealing with “adults with raised eyebrows.”  Here I am with Kim McCallister, Liberty Middle School in Mechanicsville, VA.Kim McCallister Liberty MS

Italian cookies as IsgroAnd what would a trip to Philly be without Italian cookies?  Isgro on Christian Street and 10th, was just a jewel.photo 7

Football, Racism & Latino History for Teens: A talk with Sandra Neil Wallace

Muckers_coverThe holidays are a time to invite friends to your house, and that’s true for this blog, too. I’m honored to have Sandra Neil Wallace with me this week. Sandra is a former ESPN sportscaster and author of Muckers (Knopf 2013), a YA novel for anyone who loves fútbol Americano and underdog stories. But more important to me, it’s also a thoughtful look at anti-Latino racism in the 1950s and the difficult circumstances of Mexican-American families in Arizona at that time. Based on true events, the novel follows Red O’Sullivan, team quarterback, and his friend Cruz as they cobble together their high school’s last football season.  It offers us not only an inspiring look back, but also a way to ask questions about where we are now in sports and race.

________________________

How did you discover this story?

I was living in Sedona, Arizona, working as an ESPN announcer and discovered the Muckers story in a box of letters written to the principal of Jerome High School. Most of the letters were from young Mexican-American men who had graduated and gone to war. The letters helped me uncover the incredible sports triumph of the 1950 football team. Despite being the smallest squad in the state, playing on a rock field, and facing ridicule for being an integrated team, they made a run for the state championship. The football season in Muckers is modeled after theirs, and I interviewed surviving players to create characters I’d imagine experiencing the hardships of that time period.Author_Sandra_Neil_Wallace_2013

Muckers is set in a mining town that forces a diverse group of people to survive together, yet racism runs deep. Can you tell us about the racism that existed at that time in Arizona?

The extreme danger involved in that profession forced a diverse group to develop trust in each other to stay alive, but once the shift ended, miners headed to different sections on the hill, and your position dictated where you lived. Many Mexican American miners were muckers (they shoveled waste into ore cars) and blasters living in the gulch section known as “Mexicantown.”

The majority of Jerome’s citizens were of Mexican descent, yet there was a tremendous amount of confusion when it came to classification. Census takers check-marked boxes labeled “white” then wrote “Mexican” beside it. But what was clear was that Mexican Americans did not have the same rights as whites in Arizona. Many districts forced Mexican-American students to attend different schools under the guise of “separate but equal” education.

Jerome’s schools and teams were integrated but players still faced daily paradoxes competing against teams from segregated schools. What struck me hardest was the segregation of the town swimming pool. The humiliation felt by the young Mexican-American players was palpable in the letters they’d sent to their principal. How could you be on the same team and not be able to swim with your teammates? How could you be counted on to win a championship, yet afterwards, be prevented from socializing with your peers? The repercussions of these boundaries are what I explore in Muckers.segregation2

Any surprises in the research for you?

Yes; resilience, dignity, and hope amidst adversity. And how a single act of kindness from a teacher or a coach can influence a generation of men. As humans, we intrinsically search for glimmers of hope and when we find it, we take hold of it. Jerome’s principal and coach encouraged students and players to break down racial barriers. As a team, the Muckers responded by banding together and becoming a symbol of hope for their community.

This amazing team is such a contrast, for example, to incidents such as the Miami Dolphins and Richie Incognito.

Racism still exists in sports at all levels and will continue if management and coaches don’t set policies that get enforced to stop the culture of racism. What’s different now is that it’s getting exposed. It’s unfortunate when the result is to walk away from the game that you love in order to avoid racism instead of it sparking discussion that could lead to change.

Your characters are layered characters, young men of many cultures. What must a writer get right when writing across cultures? What were your guiding principles in your work on the characters?

Immersion, inquiry, and empathy.

As a journalist I immersed myself in 1950 Arizona through personal interviews, newspapers, oral histories and photographs, to capture the language and points of view of those living through the social injustices, the Communist scare, and the Korean War. But once this groundwork is done, you have to ask the difficult questions– the ones that make people squirm—in order to capture emotions and get at the truth. Empathy allows you to understand.

I could draw on my own experience with gender discrimination as a sportscaster and my family’s history of ethnic discrimination in Europe as German Yugoslavs after World War II, when they became property of the state and were sent to concentration camps.

Traumatic events are universal and also unforgettable. My grandmother vividly remembers what the sky looked like when she was taken to the concentration camp. The Mexican-American players from Jerome can recite the segregated swim times 65 years later. As a writer, it’s your responsibility to get as close to these realities as possible and if you don’t, the writing will be weak. But if a reader believes that an author should only write about characters that are their own gender, ethnicity or race, that’s discrimination, too.

What did you learn from the Muckers’ experience?

Well, the Muckers story continues. The novel unleashed a voice that had been silenced for more than 60 years. Players say the book has enabled them to talk about the town’s segregation and brought them closer together. But what means most to me is the letter from a player taped on my office wall with two words written on it: “You understand.

___________________

Read the Kirkus review of Muckers here.

Sandra Neil Wallace is a former news anchor and ESPN sportscaster, who is now a full- time author. She was named an outstanding newcomer to the children’s literature scene by the Horn Book following the publication of her first novel, Little Joe. Her forthcoming book is a children’s biography of sports legend Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Sandra lives in New Hampshire with her husband, author Rich Wallace.

Follow her on Twitter @SandraNWallace or by visiting www.gomuckers.com

When Characters Muscle In

Thank you, Hannah Love, for this photo

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind releases through Walker Books in the UK as a gorgeous paperback next month — and review copies are going out with their own milagro. Nice!  Here’s a post I did for Under Cover Books about the unexpected pleasures of surrendering to your characters. In life and in fiction, I’ve found that it’s always the quiet ones that surprise you. At least, that’s how it happened in this book.

P.S. Love the cover? Me gusta tambien. Check out Olaf Hajek’s other beautiful work.  Here’s a teaser.

I vote for more illustration in YA book jackets.

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind blog tour starts today

Just wanted to give you the heads up this morning. I’m on tour. Yep — and I’m still in my pajamas as I’m telling you this. That’s because it’s a blog tour — the single most author-friendly invention since the pencil. Eight YA bloggers have invited me to answer questions — some serious, some funny — about my novel, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind. For me, it’s a chance to channel my inner Where’s Waldo without ever leaving my kitchen computer. I meet their readers, talk about my project, and get the word out in anticipation of the March 12 pub date. For the bloggers, it’s a chance for fresh content and connections. For you, it’s a chance to win stuff (sometimes) and get the scoop on what is behind the book you’re reading.

Today, you can catch me on Waste Paper Prose, where I did  a  v-log (video version) at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens here in Richmond, VA. Don’t make fun of my hair in the last section. It was windy, okay? Visit at  www.wastepaperprose.com.

I hope you’ll make time this week to stop in on these blogs and get to know some rabid book lovers. You can see the dates and stops on the skyscraper that I’ve posted in the sidebar to the right. A big thanks to:  Waste Paper Prose, Book Briefs, Muggle-Born.net, The Book Cellar, Teen Reads, A Cupcake and a Latte, Joyousreads, and The Hispanic Reader.

You’re invited to Meg’s book launch party for The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind. Saturday, March 17, 2012, 1 – 3 pm, bbgb tales for kids, 3100 Kensington Avenue, Richmond, VA

Trailer for The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind

Okay, friends. Steven Spielberg has been in town shooting for his Abe Lincoln film. Unfortunately, that means he’s been too busy to make my book trailer. Ha!

So, instead, I offer you my humble, homemade effort. The Girl who Could Silence the Wind, is my young adult novel due from Candlewick in March 2012. I’m so excited to see this project finally come together. Of all my  novels, this is the one that I wrote and re-wrote to the point that I almost lost hope.

But here it is — at last!

If you’re curious about how to make one of these mini-movie ads for your own book projects, here’s how to get started on a Mac, using i-Movie or Garage Band. I recommend contacting Chris Cheng at SCBWI Australia for the specific, step-by-step directions on how to turn your laptop MAC into your own movie studio. (He gave a very worthwhile session at SCBWI a couple of years ago.)

In a nutshell, I did this one by creating a Keynote slide presentation (just like Powerpoint, really.) I exported  the slide show to QuickTime and then used the movie as the movie track in a Garage Band podcast. For sound effects and music, I browsed the library available on Garage Band. All in all, not fancy, pero bueno, it was pretty fun.

Thanks for watching, and please share this trailer with all your reading friends.

Con muchos cariños

Meg