Monday, April 16, 2012

What Diversity Means to Me - Featuring Dia Reeves

Hi everyone! Thank you all for reading this diversity series! I hope you've enjoyed the different perspectives that have been given - not only from authors but even a YA librarian and my very own wonderful agent. So today we continue the series with one of my favorite authors, Dia Reeves.

I've known Dia online for a few years now and it's been amazing to see her come out with two fantastic books during that time! I was so blown away when I first read Bleeding Violet. Dark and disturbing and violent. This is not for the faint at heart. It was unlike any book I'd ever read. But then Dia wrote Slice of Cherry and completely solidified why I love her so much. Slice of Cherry is even stranger and scarier and gorier. Seriously, if you are a fan of Dexter, you will love SOC. So I'm very happy to have Dia on the blog today.
Ello - Hi Dia! Thanks so much for being here! So can you please let us know how you came to write your book?

Dia - When I was a kid, I never read books about black kids. When I wrote my own short stories, all the characters were white. No one told me they had to be; that was a conclusion I drew based on the evidence at hand, namely, none of my favorite books had anything but white characters. When I got to high school, however, I started reading Octavia E. Butler who not only was black but wrote sf/horror novels about black people. That blew me away. Not long after that, I wrote a story starring a black girl, and I remember feeling guilty, like I was doing something really naughty. Then I realized how much fun being naughty is. I haven't looked back since.

Ello - I'm so glad you were naughty! Although naught is so tame a word to use for an author who writes weird and darkly disturbing horror stories! So why do you think books like yours with POC characters are important to our kids?

Dia - I don't know that what I write is important. Finding a cure for AIDS is important--what I do is all about entertainment. That said, I get a lot of fan mail. Some thanking me for writing about POC characters, but the majority are from weird and crazy fans who can't believe I write about weird and crazy people. Being weird and crazy myself, those are the letters that strike the deepest chord with me, because weird and crazy doesn't recognize racial boundaries. Many people feel different. Even seemingly normal people can feel like they're just faking it. I think the reason I get so much mail of that kind is because people understand what it is not to fit in. Since I write about a town where being weird is normal, all the weirdos tend to relate. It's nice to have your feelings and experiences validated, if not in the real world, at least in a fictional one.

Ello - I love your answer because it is a great reminder that diversity isn't just about race. So here's the last and final question - What does diversity mean to you?
Dia - If you say to a deaf kid, "Hey, kid, you matter," but then the kid can't find books/magazines/movies/TV shows/video games about other deaf kids, then in what way are you demonstrating his importance? The kid looks around at other people being represented and not only does he not feel important--he feels like he doesn't exist. So diversity means being able to see yourself, no matter how out of the mainstream you are, reflected in society. I don't think we're even close to being truly diverse, but I try to do my part as a writer--maybe one day I'll succeed.

Ello - Dia, you're doing a great job and I hope you continue writing your weird and crazy characters for years to come! Thanks so much for being here!


Kimbra Kasch said...

:) I always say if we were all the same, life would be boring.

Danette Vigilante said...

I love so much about this interview. Thank you, Dia! And btw,your photo is adorable!

Brandy Colbert said...

I relate to this interview so much, but especially this part: "When I was a kid, I never read books about black kids. When I wrote my own short stories, all the characters were white. No one told me they had to be; that was a conclusion I drew based on the evidence at hand, namely, none of my favorite books had anything but white characters."

Same, same, same. Thanks, Ellen and Dia!

Anonymous said...

Another great post! I really hope to see more diversity in the future.

Today the website for Julie Kagawa's Blood of Eden series was launched. I haven't read The Immortal Rules yet, but found out the main character is Asian (Allison Sekemoto) and described as an "Asian doll" in the book. From the cover and pictures here, the model isn't. I wish they would of gone with a someone who represented the character more. They usually do it if the character is Caucasian, why isn't that the same with all ethnicities.

Ms. Edith Campbell said...

I'm really loving this series, especially today when Ms. Reeves questions how we cam tell someone they're important and then proceed to make them invisible.
Yes, we are far from realizing how truly diverse our country was, is and continues to be.


Ani Louise said...

I LOVED Bleeding Violet and Slice of Cherry! They were both so fun to read and a bit scary too. Wish there were more authors willing to be naughty (although I don't really think of it as naughty - more like taking a chance on writing what you love).

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