Books by Lorie Ann Grover

Books by Lorie Ann Grover
Kirkus Starred Review, Firstborn: "A fantasy that reads like a lost history tome and deftly examines issues of gender...An engrossing story with welcome depths."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What a Girl Wants: Who can write what?

Over at Chasing Ray, Colleen has posted a controversial subject: can an author write about a race, culture, or lifestyle not his/her own? The answers were varied. Much! But I wasn't totally alone. Catch the full discussion at Chasing Ray. And here's my entry.

Lorie Ann Grover: I do believe writers and publishers are bringing to the market a variety of story. With broad foreign rights sales, we are privy to an even wider range of storytellers in our country. To further unlock the untold, I believe we need to encourage writers of all walks to write their own stories well. At readergirlz we are constantly looking for unique voices to resonate in the field. What satisfaction to offer Rita Williams Garcia's No Laughter Here and discuss female circumcision and then Laura Resau's Red Glass and debate illegal immigration.

Authors can write of cultures and lifestyles beyond their experience, or we'd have no sci-fi fantasy, right? The challenge is to be faithful in full research and revelation. Red Glass is an excellent example of Laura Resau bringing to light a culture not her own. I also think of Laurie Halse Anderson's Chains, and Patricia McCormick's Sold. Why would we ever inhibit storytellers who have a burden to share truth, even if the story doesn't spring from their own immediate life experience?

Concerning publishers, initially, maybe the books aren't placed as quickly because of sales concern. In truth, there might not be broad sales at first as the experiences are foreign to American teens. Hopefully though, the books are published, purchased, and read, with connections made through shared desires and emotions. Is it the library market that feeds the groundswell until the books can crossover to the stores, maybe? I have to believe there are dedicated middle grade and YA editors out there who will bring these stories to light for the love of truth, regardless of questionable sales. I'm hoping to place one now myself!

As to characters resonating through my life from different places than my own, I have to say: Djo from Frances Temple's Taste of Salt, Liesel from Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, Junior from Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, or how about Devon Hope from Nikki Grimes' Bronx Masquerade? My list could go on and on. These are characters who wanted the very same things I do and just happened to be reaching for them in a different place. Their courage empowers me. There are so many examples, and for that, I am thankful.


dirtywhitecandy said...

So often we hear the mantra 'write what you know'. But people who say this don't understand how the writer's imagination works. Writers write what they are interested in, fascinated by, what seems to say something wider about humanity and the human condition. They find a way to inhabit it to make it real to others.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Absolutely! What we know is emotional response and reaction and desire. These are shared by all men. And then the story can take any form. Thanks!