Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Blogoversary Celebration Day 3: Are you Diversifying your YA? DiversifYA's Marieke Nijkamp + $15 Amazon giftcard giveaway

Since my sister and I started blogging, DiversifYa has become one of our go to blogs!We check in every new post and I'm pretty sure they were one of the first blogs we really started following religiously. DiversifYA features up and coming authors, aspiring writers and much needed discussions about all things diversity. So we're happy to invite the creator of the site, Marieke Nijkamp on our blog today!!!

1. Why don't spend the next moment describing yourself in 20 words or less :)

How about...  "Writer. Reader. Traveler. Dreamer. Geek. Lover of life." That's eight. Twenty if you include my humming and hawing.

2. No, we didn't forget we're talking blogs :) Why don't you talk a little about your blog and it's mission!

At its heart, DiversifYA is a collection of interviews, stories, and guestposts focused on all sorts of diversity and on all marginalized experiences. As a tool for writers, but also--and above all--to showcase the breadth of human experiences. We focus on cultural and ethnic diversity, religious diversity, LGBTQ* diversity, experiences with disability, illnesses, mental illnesses, neurodiversity... we're open to everyone who wants to share their stories!

By now, I'd like to think of DiversifYA as a community, more than just a blog. Over the past year, we've had so many amazing people who've became part of us, shared their stories with us, it's just fantastic. I'm so, so grateful for all of you <3

3. What inspired you to make this blog?

Most books I read growing up--and even now--left me feeling different, like an outsider, Othered (I talked about this at length here:http://suzannevanrooyen.com/2013/06/20/on-the-other-side-of-the-window-diversity-in-ya/ and in the context of another discussion here:http://disabilityinkidlit.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/marieke-nijkamp-the-trope-of-curing-disability/). And many people I talked to about diversity told me they felt the same way. And it's such a heartbreaking thing. Think about it for a moment, it's as if we're telling our readers--children and teens--we're telling them that they're not part of this world we see or want to create. How awful is that? And while I'm only one voice, I really wanted to do something to show people the other side of Othering.

4. Since launching DiversifYa, what have you noticed about the lack of diversity in books?

I've noticed it's something more and more people are thinking about and writing about and promoting, which is AWESOME. I've also been lucky enough to beta-read quite a few fantastic 2014 and 2015 debuts that are brimming with diversity. So if anything, that makes me very hopeful we're heading in the right direction. It's a good start! We're making progress! But, we're definitely not there yet by a long way. There's a world still to be won. 

5. What are some themes in YA, Fantasy, Sci-Fi and NA do you wish they tackled more in books?

I'd love to see more diversity. I mean, shocking, right? But I really think that sums up what I miss in many books: the richness of the world around us. It doesn't just consist of straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied, neurotypical people. Then why on earth do our story worlds? I love reading books to broaden my perspective and to discover more about this world we live in and these strange things called life and humanity. But I think part of me will forever be that kid who tried to find herself in stories and failed time and time again. I'll always be looking though, because as a reader--to me--there's no greater joy than to find characters I can identify with. 

6. What are some of you favorite stories that feature diverse characters?Who are some of your favorite authors that write diverse characters?

This is such a dangerous question ;) I love discovering new authors--and recommending them! I'm currently reading Benjamin Alire Sáenz's ARISTOLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE and loving it a LOT. The style is fantastic and the characters just leap off the page.
There are also more than a few 2014 debuts I'm very excited about. Corinne Duyvis's OTHERBOUND is a stunning YA fantasy that's deliciously twisty and complicated, with characters of color, queer princesses, and a wonderfully rich world. I also loved Tess Sharpe's FAR FROM YOU. The way that story explores themes of love and friendship pretty much gutted me. Plus, bisexual characters! Disability! 

Finally, I can't wait to read Brandy Colbert's POINTE. I've had this book on my radar ever since I saw the deal announcement and it sounds AMAZING. 

Oh, and Jenny Han's TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE wins "best/cutest premise". I'm very much looking forward to reading it.

7. Who's your favorite book hero/ine and why?

You can't ask me that! I'd have to choose! Though I think if I had to pick one, I'd go for Quintana, one of the main characters of Melina Marchetta's Lumatere Chronicles (FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK, FROI OF THE EXILES, QUINTANA OF CHARYN). I love that she's strong and resilient and vulnerable and broken and so very flawed. She isn't a likable character, especially not at the start of the story, but by the end of the series I loved her dearly. 

8. Are you a writer?(or aspiring to be) If so, tell us a bit about your writing or WIP.If not, anyone you can recommend to us? :)

I am a writer! I write both MG and YA, and I'm currently working on a literary MG that's my go-to story in between other projects, and a dark and bloody YA epic fantasy, filled with spies and war and friendship.

9. Where can we find out more about DiversifYA and it's latest projects?

You can find DiversifYA at http://www.DiversifYA.com and on Twitter @_DiversifYA. You can also find me on twitter @mariekeyn. I don't have a personal blog, but I'm delighted to be a part of the YA Misfits athttp://www.YAmisfits.com :)

We'd also LOVE more interviewees for DiversifYA! So if you want to contribute, please do get in touch. We'd love to hear from you!  

Marieke used her superpowers to convince us! We all hope you loved her interview as much as we did. Do not be afraid to contact her, as she is always looking for diverse perspective for DiversifYA! Tweet her, contact her through the blog's official site! Do whatever you must! She's waiting for you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Quote:
    "I've also been lucky enough to beta-read quite a few fantastic 2014 and 2015 debuts that are brimming with diversity."
    This sounds promising! Looking forward to know more about them.

  2. I think a giveaway is a great way to celebrate

  3. If I had a blog, I would celebrate with a giveaway and also write about some milestones I've reached, such as 1st book I reviewed, 1st follower etc. :)
    Happy Blogoversary!


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