Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Women Writers of Color: Neesha Meminger

Full name: Neesha D. Meminger

Birth date: October 17th

Location: Bronx, NY

Website/blog: Neesha and Cynical, Ornery, Sublime, Lush

Genre: YA; Fantasy and Contemporary

WiP or most recently published work:
Most recently published work-Shine, Coconut Moon (McElderry Books, 2009)
WIP--YA Fantasy
I also write other genres under a pen name.

Writing credits:
Much of my writing has been published in journals, newspapers, anthologies, quarterlies, and online magazines. If you do a search for my name you'll see plenty of earlier work pop up :).

How frequently do you update your site?
I would say every couple of months or so...? *Editors note: blog is updated weekly.

Is your site designed for reader interaction?
Readers are always invited to email me with questions, comments, thoughts, and opinions. On my "For Readers" page, I have some fun activities related to SHINE, COCONUT MOON including music, family portraits, and teen responses to interesting questions.

Post of note, something in particular you want readers to check out:
Many of my posts of note deal with race and representation in children's publishing. I am always interested in the ways race, gender, sexuality, and class representation intersect with popular culture and mass media. My undergraduate degree is in film and media, so that might explain it. I also want to point to Amy Bowllan's Writers Against Racism series that *everyone* should check out. But here is a sampling of posts (some on my blog, some not) about issues that matter to me:

My guest post on Justine Larbalestier's blog, Colleen Mondor's What A Girl Wants series on her blog, Chasing Ray. One that is particularly close to my heart is the "Mean Girls" post and The SHINE cover story.

On giving back when one uses another community's representation in their own interests and
Books I've cherished and Who Gets to Represent?

100 words or less how would you describe your work?
My work is (and will always be) about the lives of women of colour. That is what I know and it is what I am passionate about. I think if you write something to a trend, or try too hard to bend yourself to a market, it shows in the final product. So, I try to stick with topics that ignite something within. Topics that mean more to me than just telling a good story. Usually those topics include redefining the boundaries set for us as women and people of colour; social and economic justice; the equitable distribution of resources; basic human rights for all citizens, such as health care and the right to live free of fear and violence; envisioning the world in a new way; seeing new paradigms and new possibilities. Every single thing I write incorporates these sensibilities because they are an extension of who I am.

100 words on less please share your thoughts on writing and activism:
This is a bit of an extension of the previous answer. To me, writing and activism are inextricably linked. My writing--*all* of my creative expression--IS my activism. When I made films, they dealt with the same topics and issues as my writing. When I do anything creative, it is an expression of who I am as a whole. And, because part of who I am includes a passion for social change, that passion inevitably finds its way into my characters, my plotlines, the structure of my stories. I think, in part, this is what writing by any group (from the inside) is. It is the *lived* experience of a struggle for change and equality. Anyone can write a character. Anyone can infuse that character with universal emotions and slap a colour on that character. But adding the layer of struggle, the layer of not just passion, but a desperate need to see a new way of being--THAT is what makes any representation of the "other" layered and complex. And that doesn't mean ONLY depicting characters who are down in the dumps, whose lives exist solely within the context of violence and degradation. Anyone can put that together, too. But again--layering that experience with the hope, the unrelenting urge to soar beyond daily confines, to expand outside of the stifling conditions of racism, poverty, misogyny, and homophobia...THAT is where authentic representation comes in. If an author doesn't breathe her own LIVED experience into a character, that character remains dead on the page.

Thanks, Neesha. Looking forward to our book discussion on Friday.


Zetta said...

hurray for Neesha! she's a fierce writer with a brilliant creative & analytical mind...

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Fabulous comments about writing and activism. I wish all artists understood that what they say or don't say IS a statement.

Thanks Susan for publishing this wonderful interview.

Colleen said...

Double that hurray for Neesha! She so totally rocks and I love having her onboard at What a Girl Wants!

Doret said...

I've already read and loved Shine Coconut Moon but reading this makes me want to read it all over again.

Mardel said...

I enjoyed the interview. I need to read some fantasy from POC authors, and it's hard to find, unless you know about the writers already - (Like Octavia Butler). I'll be looking out for your books now.

Tarie said...

I love that picture of Neesha. :o)

I look forward to the book discussion that starts tomorrow!

Kelly said...

Thanks so much for featuring Neesha! She's an amazing author and activist. I appreciate all she does to empower and educate. Keep soaring, Neesha.

LM Preston said...

Thank you for sharing this source. I love fantasy and from a POC writer too! It'll be fun to explore this novel with my daughter.

Olugbemisola (Mrs. Pilkington) said...

shine is a gorgeous book. it's delicate, nuanced, bursting with heart, and powerful -- with some great surprises! thanks for highlighting neesha here.