Thursday, December 26, 2013

Twinja Book Reviews has a TWIN review site in the blogger world-Audrey Gonzalez from "Rich in Color" sits down to talk with 'Las Twinjas'!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!Here we are again hosting some more amazing people in this pool of people interested in multicultural books. Today we'd like to introduce you to a website very similar to our own called "Rich in Color". 

The site hosts many bloggers that talk about diversity in books and review books and they're all just as passionate about it as we are. We thought about how challenging it can be sometimes when promoting a site with a particular "theme', so any efforts we can make to tell others about their amazing blog as well as other amazing blogs promoting diversity, we plan to shout off to the rooftops until there's no reason to do so :) So today we have the lovely Audrey Gonzalez, representing "Rich in Color." 

1.Tell us about yourself and your amazing blog, Rich in Color!

Rich in Color is dedicated to reading, reviewing, talking about, and otherwise promoting young adult fiction starring people of color or written by people of color. We believe that teens (and adults!) should be able to find themselves in the kinds of books they love to read. At Rich in Color, we want to showcase a wide variety of multicultural books so that kids will be able to see themselves as more than just the sassy best friend, the very special lesson, or the extra in the background.

I'm Audrey Gonzalez, an administrative assistant/proofreader by day and a Tumblr-addict, Korean drama-aficionado, and wannabe writer by night. I run Rich in Color with three other bloggers (Crystal Brunelle, a teacher-librarian; Jessica Yang, a student; and K. Imani Tennyson, a teacher) and a webmaster/contributor (Jon Yang, a writer).  

2. What inspired you along with fellow bloggers to create the review site, Rich In Color?

I had the idea to read and review multicultural young adult books as early as 2011, but the biggest barrier for me was time. I just couldn't see myself juggling a full-time job along with a book review blog, especially not a blog with the kind of scope I was envisioning. Doing something like that by myself seemed like a great way to set myself up for failure, so I shelved the idea.

Then March 2013 came around, and I mentioned my shelved project idea in a Lee & Low/Tu Books #diverselit chat. Several people encouraged me, but Crystal sent me a tweet that caught my attention. I asked her if she was interested in helping me make the project a reality. The two of us chatted a few times online, and once we were satisfied that we were on the same page, we agreed to launch the site together. One of our first steps was to recruit additional bloggers, and we found Jessica, K. Imani, and Jon through what was essentially an open audition process.

We are all passionate about promoting diversity in young adult books--four of us are people of color, and our two teachers work with diverse populations in their schools. We want to make it easier for teens (and adults) to find heroes who look like them in the books they read. 

3. Based on what you've seen since the launch of your blog, do you find it harder to promote books that feature diverse characters as lead protagonists?

I wouldn't say that it's harder to promote them so much as it's harder to find the books in question. Sometimes a book's summary or cover makes it obvious that the book is about a person of color; sometimes there's no way for us to tell without reading the book in question. When you consider how small of a percentage of YA books have people of color as lead protagonists or are written by people of color, it can be easy to miss the titles we're looking for.

Our promotion is largely focused in two areas: our release calendar and our book reviews. We know we can't get to every YA book starring or written by people of color, so it is important for us that we put every upcoming book that we can find on our release calendar. That way, even if the only mention the book gets is in the weekly new releases post, our readers will be able to read the summary--and maybe check out the book for themselves. (Our readers frequently alert us to books that aren't already on our calendar, and we love that. Editors, agents, and authors are also welcome to message our bloggers to let us know about a title that would fit our website but hasn't already been added to the calendar.)

Our book reviews are every Friday (and occasionally on Wednesdays, which is our "blogger's choice" day). We review books that have come out in the last year as we want to focus on what's happening in the YA genre now. When the opportunity arises, we also interview authors and editors or sponsor book giveaways.

4.Are there any cultures, genres or themes you'd like to see in the future in YA/MG/NA novels that you haven't already seen?

I'm not sure if you'd call it a genre, but I'd love to see "historical fantasy" in YA. Guy Gavriel Kay wrote two adult novels,Under Heaven and River of Stars, which are based on historical events in the Tang and Song dynasties, respectively, but set in fantasy worlds. YA books already combine genres in exciting ways, and I'd love to see more well-researched historical events infused with fantastic elements from the cultures in question.

As long as the cultures are well-researched and respectfully treated, I'd be thrilled to see anything. Korean history and culture are of particular interest to me, and I'd love to see more books set in/based on pre-colonial Africa--say the Kingdom of Nri or the Kingdom of Aksum.

As far as themes go, I'd really like to see more YA books explore female friendship. There are a lot of famous bromances in fiction, and I am in desperate need of more sismances in my life. I'm also fascinated by stories that center on how people deal (or don't deal) the the consequences of difficult/bad decisions they made under trying circumstances.
(So, basically, if you're writing a Korean-based fantasy world with a story based on Grand Prince Soo-yang's coup and featuring girls working in the palace at the time, I will love you forever. If this already exists, TELL ME, PLEASE.)

5.If you had 10 top picks that feature multiculturalism at it's finest, which books would make that list?

That's such a hard question! Here are ten YA books my fellow bloggers and I have really enjoyed this year:

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáen
2. Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang
3. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
4. Inheritance by Malinda Lo
5. If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

6. Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
7. Since You Asked by Maurene Goo
8. Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow
9. Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
10. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

6. What have you learned the most about since the launch of your Multicultural Book Blog?

That people are really enthusiastic about diversity. Rich in Color has had a supportive reception online, particularly on Tumblr. We have a small readership, but they have been great about reblogging/retweeting our content, suggesting titles for our release calendar, and the like. The authors and editors we've reached out to for interviews have been wonderful--I don't think we've had anyone turn us down yet.

But mostly I've learned that teamwork and a good schedule can make amazing things happen. Crystal, K. Imani, and Jessica have hit every one of their posting days, so our site is always regularly updated; Jon has made our sites look great (I hope no one remembers what they looked like at the start). None of us could do Rich in Color on our own, and I think the site is greater for having a variety of opinions, personalities, and reading tastes represented.

7.How do we help get the word out to people who WANT to see diversity in books?

Talk about diversity in books whenever the opportunity presents itself. Make book lists and write book reviews and leave comments on interviews and essays and reblog/retweet content you love. Talk to people in your day-to-day life about the things you're passionate about and the causes you support whenever you can. I've told prospective employers and co-workers about Rich in Color, and my friends and family know about the website.

Ask questions, learn from others, and don't be afraid to ask for help, too. When Crystal and I first decided to launch Rich in Color, we reached out to Stacy L. Whitman of Tu Books and Malinda Lo of Diversity in YA and asked them some questions. Both of them responded quickly and offered to do some signal-boosting for us when we were ready to recruit additional bloggers.

I've found that the people who want to promote diversity in books are excited about the chance to do so. They want to spread the word. You have to make something visible so others can find it. I don't know what the best ways are, but I'll continue to talk about diversity in books in person and online.

8. Do you accept review requests from most authors/publishers that submit to you?Any restrictions? What don't you accept?

We are more than happy to entertain review requests! We have had a few small presses provide us with either digital or physical ARCs for review this year. You can read our review policy here, but it essentially boils down to two things: 1) it must be a YA book that 2) stars or is written by a person of color. We do not accept non-fiction, self-published, or e-book only titles at this time.

When I receive a review request, I typically contact my fellow bloggers and give them the title and summary. Then whoever calls dibs first gets to review the book. The five of us all have different genre preferences, so we have always had at least one blogger interested in taking a review request. Otherwise most of our reviews are books we buy on our own or borrow from friends/the library. 

9.What's next for you and what do you hope for the future in regards to Rich in Color?

The next thing for me is probably to message my co-bloggers and set up a video chat where we can talk about this very question. Rich in Color will be taking a brief hiatus at the end of the year due to Christmas and New Year's, but we'll be back in January. March will be the one-year anniversary of our site, and I hope that we can do something suitably exciting to mark the occasion.

However, if I had to pick one thing to work on for our site, I'd really like to have more interviews for Rich in Color. Interviews are a great opportunity for us to learn more about authors, their books, and why they chose to include diversity in their works. Our group book discussions have also been fun, though we're still getting the hang of them.

10. How do we learn more about you and your blog?

You can find Rich in Color at our website, through our Tumblr, or on Twitter. If you know of any upcoming books by or about people of color, you can get in contact with us at any of those places. We want to hear about anything that's missing for ourrelease calendar! Authors, editors, and publishers that would like to include Rich in Color in marketing activities (cover reveals, giveaways, interviews, review requests, etc.) can send me an email.
Our bloggers can be reached in a variety of ways:
I can be reached best through Tumblr or on Twitter. You can also email me directly.

You can find Crystal on TwitterGoodreads, and her blog Reading Through Life. You can also email her directly.

When not asleep, Jessica can be found on TumblrYouTube, or Goodreads. You can also email her directly.

You can look for K. Imani at her website, on Twitter, or on Facebook. You can also email her directly.

Jon lives online at, tweets @jayang, and collects covers of MG/YA books featuring Asian males on hisPinterest. Please email him with any Rich in Color website problems.

Did you forget we're hosting a colossal giveaway???Most of the authors we featured this month are offering their books, some hardcopies, some ebooks but all FREE!And we're also throwing in an amazon gift card, so don't forget to enter!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Another great interview, Twinjas! I do hope, however, that in 2014 Rich In Color reconsiders their policy to only accept/review traditionally published books. To do so is to endorse the very industry that perpetuates the problem they are trying to address.

    A common response I received when querying agents and publishers: “Not right for my list. Great story, well-written, just hard to sell an African American male protagonist at this time.” The publishing industry is a business. They must be able to see an audience and a return on their investment in order to take a chance on a book. So how do we change their minds about what is marketable? By successfully self-publishing stories with diverse main characters.

    If quality is the concern with self-published books, it’s incredibly easy to separate the wheat from the chaff: Reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and LibraryThing or simply have the author submit the first page of their novel. The first page tells you everything you need to know about professionalism, style, and quality of storytelling.


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