Tuesday, November 3, 2009

COLA: Justine Larbalestier

Writer: Justine Larbalestier

blog: Justine Larbalesier

WiP or most recently published work:

Pub schedule. How frequently do you update your blog?
I try to blog every day but sometimes life gets in the way.

Post of note, something in particular you want readers to check out:
I'm not sure how to answer this so instead I'm listing the post that has generated the most responses from my readers. Not just in comments but letters to me and linkage etc:

How to re-write

I wrote it because so many beginning writers were telling me that they had no idea to rewrite. Given that it took me twenty years to learn how I understood exactly what they meant. Rewriting is the hardest thing to learn about writing. This post is my attempt at giving some pointers that hopefully will point some in the right direction.

Top 5 reads for 2009?
This has been an absolutely amazing year for books. I don't think I've read a bad one. Which makes it incredibly hard to pick my favourites. For starters many of the new books I love that came out this year I read last year. Also many are by friends of mine. Or by my husband. So I'm listing my fave five books I read in 2009 that are by people I don't know or correspond with:

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith: I've not been able to get this book out of my head since I first read it. Ida Mae Jones is my hero. (My review is here.)

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson: Another book that's lodged itself in my head permanently. Absolutely haunting. (My review is here.)

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke: A debut crime novel set in Houston in the early 80s, which I cannot believe is a debut. I'm convinced she must have written dozens of other novels first. Astonishingly good.

Bayou by Jeremy Love: My favourite graphic novel of the year or possibly any year. A reimagining of Disney's Song of the South that directly addresses that film's racism. It started (and continues) online here. I'm also buying the printed volumes as they appear. You all need to read this.

Remembering Jim Crow edited by William H. Chafe, Raymond Gavins, & Robert Korstad: This one's a research book for a novel I'm writing set in NYC in the 1930s. It collects first-person accounts of the Jim Crow era. For someone like me who grew up white in Australia, the book is page after page of insight and revelation. There are very few pages of this book that have not made me cry. Highly recommended.

100 words on less please share your thoughts on writing and activism:
For ages I thought writing and activism were separate things. I was a writer, not an activist. But then readers started thanking me for writing about teens who weren't white, girls who liked maths, boys who like clothes. I learned that representation is extraordinarily important. I still write diverse novels but now I blog more about the politics of representation, diversity, publishing, race, class, and gender. I read as widely as I can---blogs, novels, graphic novels, journals---and point my blog readers to books that spoke to me, that I hope will speak to them.

In 100 words or less what do you hope readers will gain, find or enjoy because they’ve visited your blog?
My main hopes are that my readers don't get bored and that I've created a space that welcomes comments. The last is especially important. It's why I'm vigilant in moderating the conversation. The minute people start being abusive, or trolling, or derailing the conversation I intervene. Fortunately, I've not had to do so often. I know some people believe that's censorship but I've seen too many blogs go from being warm, inviting spaces to open warfare, where the more thoughtful commenters feel unwelcome. I will never let that happen to my blog. I value community and conversation too highly.

Thanks, Justine.


Nymeth said...

I completely missed the Disney - Bayou connection! I'll keep that in mind when reading volumes 2 and 3, for which I absolutely can't wait.

Doret said...

Bayou is amazing

I think its important to recoginze White authors who create believable characters of color, be a main or secondary one.

I loved what Justine did with Micah in Liar. The few basketball references were spot on. I couldn't help but think the author has a basketball story waiting to get out.

Anonymous said...

Nymeth: I missed it too! Read about it in an interview with Love and was like, "OMG! Of course."

Doret: Thank you so much. Secretly, Liar is all about basketball. :-)

Thanks so much for having me, Susan!

Justine L

zettaelliott said...

I don't know how I missed this...but let me just say how consistently amazed and impressed I am with Justine's online activism (and writing advice), her wide range of interests, and, of course, her amazing book, LIAR...I'm so glad that industry B.S. brought such an intelligent feminist author to my attention. And Bayou--I can't stop recommending it to ALL the teachers I meet, esp b/c it IS available online...

MissAttitude said...

Fabulous interview :) I'm so gald, Justine you blog about issues that speak to you, because you bring to my attention (and others) issues that we may overlook. I'm definitely never bored when I visit your blog! It has such a great feel of community and you interact well with your commentators and the posts generate great and much needed, dialogue.