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This Week in YA - Issue #34

This Week in YA
This Week in YA - Issue #34
By Voyage YA • Issue #35 • View online
It’s another new week and another installment of this newsletter for you this week, my fellow YA enthusiasts. This week, we’ve got tons of spring and summer bookish news, another great interview, and some more coverage about the efforts to block the book bans sweeping the country. Let’s dive right in!
–Kip Wilson, TWIYA Editor

News & Resources
Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month is still going strong, and I agree with Farrah on BuzzFeed that You’re Going To Want To Read All Of These New YA Books By AAPI Authors. My TBR grows once again!
It’s also Jewish American heritage month, and I love so many of the titles on this Epic Reads list of 21 Books Featuring Jewish Protagonists.
You know what else is at the top of the minds of many teens this time of year? Prom, of course! And Dahlia over at LGBTQ Reads has a great Fave Five: Queer YA About Prom.
Prom has me thinking about dressing up and colors and accessories, and all of that made me really appreciate Karen’s take on Teen Librarian Toolbox explaining What Do Teens Mean When They Talk About an Aesthetic.
I can never get enough historical fiction (seriously, never) so I loved Rachel’s 20 Must-Read YA Historical Fiction Novels on Book Riot. Probably not surprisingly, I’ve read most of these, but I did find two forthcoming books to add to my TBR. 
Finally, Publishers Weekly covered how Kid Lit Authors Petition Congress to Condemn Book Banning, including the hearing held last Thursday with the U.S. House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Christina Soontornvat’s fabulous letter is the perfect call to action to fight book bans and allow kids to read all kinds of books. Please get involved by speaking up to your local school committees!
The 5 Questions Interview Series
Each week, this newsletter will include interviews with industry professionals sharing insight about the who, what, where, when, why in YA today.
Today we’ve got an interview with Natasha Deen, who writes for kids, teens, and adults. Her next book, The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad, is a YA novel coming out in just a couple of weeks, so read on to find out more about her and the book. I’m sure you’ll want to get those pre-orders in for this one!
5 Questions Interview with Natasha Deen, children’s and YA author
From award-winning, #OwnVoices author Natasha Deen comes a new funny, honest, YA novel following one girl as she tries to win over her crush before she leaves for college.
Let’s be clear. No matter what her older brother, Robby, says, aspiring screenwriter Tuna Rashad is not “stupidstitious.” She is, however, cool with her Caribbean heritage, which means she is always on the lookout for messages from loved ones who have passed on. But ever since Robby became a widower, all he does is hang out at the house, mock Tuna for following in their ancestors’ traditions, and meddle in her life.
Tuna needs to break free from her brother’s loving but over-bearing ways and get him a life (or at least, get him out of hers!). Based on the signs, her ancestors are on board. They also seem to be on board with helping Tuna win over her crush, Tristan Dangerfield. The only hiccup? She has to do it before leaving for college in the fall. A ticking clock, a grief-stricken brother, and a crush who doesn’t believe in signs. What could possibly go wrong?
NATASHA DEEN’S confession? She didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer. The deeper confession? She really wanted to be a superhero.
Her family moved from Guyana to Canada* to escape the country’s growing racial and political violence. She loved growing up in a country of snow and flannel, but sometimes, being the only mixed-race kid in class meant being bullied and feeling invisible because there were no reflections of her on TV or in movies, and it meant growing up feeling different from everybody. Thank goodness for books and comic books. They were full of weird, oddball, don’t-quite-fit-in characters who turned out to be amazing and cool and found their happy endings.
These days, Natasha writes for kids, teens, and adults, and she loves mixing mystery, action, and creepy with a whole lot of humour. Her books have been described as “gripping” (School Library Connection), “engaging” (CM Magazine), and “feel good” (VOYA).
And her final confession? Writing is the hardest thing she’ll ever do, but she loves it because writing is story, and our stories change the world.
*Natasha was born in Canada, but moved to Guyana when she was three-weeks old. She grew up in Nandy Park (south-west of Georgetown) before returning to Canada when she was five.
1. Who: Who are your instabuy, go-to YA authors? And which new talent have you discovered recently?
Ohhh, there are too many authors to count! There are so many great writers and Canada’s kidlit/YAlit communities are wildly talented. Whenever I’m looking for a new book or author, I head to sites like 49th Shelf, Canlit for Little Canadians, the OLA’s Forest of Reading list, or Canadian Children’s Book Centre for recommendations.
2. What: What was the most joyful moment in preparing to bring The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad into the world?
There were a few things that delighted me when it came to Tuna’s story. For one thing, her story was a chance to celebrate my culture and our belief that our ancestors watch over us. The other delight was that Tuna is an aspiring screenwriter. Coming up with chapter headings that align with the screenwriting format and tying the story into those plot/character beats was a really fun writing challenge (like in chapter seven, when Tuna talks about her story breaking into two, then the chapter eight heading, “Let the B Story begin).  It was a little Meta, which I loved!
3. Where: Where is the state of YA right now, from where you sit? Where do you hope to see it go next?
Right now, I feel that there’s a lot of space being created for stories that represent all types of people and experiences. I find that very exciting and I love reading works that celebrate diverse identities. Those types of books open my perspective. The world feels bigger and more full of possibility when I see *all* the ways we can move in it.  I’m hoping this trend continues and readers have a chance to see themselves represented or to see other experiences, and to learn how beautiful and vibrant the world is.
4. When: Looking ahead to next year (or beyond), what exciting things are next on the horizon for you?
This summer my series for young readers launches with Penguin Random House Young Readers. The Spooky Sleuth series follows Asim, who has just moved to Lion’s Gate, Washington, and is *quite* sure the town is inhabited by supernatural creatures. His buddy, Rokshar, is equally convinced that it’s not spooky but science gone wild. The stories mix STEM with Guyanese supernatural myths and they were A LOT of fun to write—especially the Dad Jokes!
5. Why: Why YA? What draws you to writing for this age group?
YA is all about identity and the audacity in believing that the individual can change the world for the better. It’s a pure delight to write stories that celebrate dreams and goals, and the power we have to choose the life we want to live.
Writing Inspiration from Kip
I’m so glad Christina Soontornvat led the way with drafting such a thorough, eloquent letter to speak up against book banning. I jumped at the chance to sign and was thrilled to see so many other kidlit authors I respect on the list. But on top of the work authors like Christina (and Ashley Hope Pérez and others) are doing, the people on the front lines of these censorship battles are the kids, their parents, and the educators who want access to these books to continue. 
I tuned in to the Subcommittee hearing on Thursday, and I was so impressed by the testimony of these people with first-hand experience of how much representation in books makes a difference. 
Here at Voyage, we “have joined the global movement to fight for equality and will consciously work to amplify marginalized voices of authors who have been historically underrepresented in publishing,” (from our website), and this absolutely means continuing to support authors whose work is banned and the teens who want to read their work. Along those same lines, I must agree with our interviewee this week when she writes, “I find that very exciting and I love reading works that celebrate diverse identities.” Hard same! I hope you all find plenty of amazing, diverse books to read this week.
Thank you for joining me on this voyage!
Did you enjoy this issue?
Voyage YA

with Kip Wilson

I’m so excited to kick off this series of weekly newsletters for you, my fellow YA enthusiasts. As a YA author and associate editor at Voyage myself, I’m looking forward to sharing exciting news from the YA world, interviews with authors and the occasional agent, editor, and professor, and last but hopefully not least, my own bit of YA inspiration each week.

About me: Kip Wilson is the author of White Rose (2019, Versify), a critically-acclaimed YA novel-in-verse about anti-Nazi political activist Sophie Scholl, and The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin (2022, Versify), a YA novel-in-verse about an aspiring singer in a queer club in 1932 Berlin. Kip holds a Ph.D. in German Literature and was the Poetry Editor at Young Adult Review Network (YARN) for five years before joining Voyage as an Associate Editor in 2020. Her next YA novel-in-verse, One Last Shot, is forthcoming from Versify in 2023.

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