Using humor as the common denominator, a multicultural cast of YA authors steps up to the mic to share stories touching on race.
Listen in as ten YA authors — some familiar, some new — use their own brand of humor to share their stories about growing up between cultures. Henry Choi Lee discovers that pretending to be a tai chi master or a sought-after wiz at math wins him friends for a while — until it comically backfires. A biracial girl is amused when her dad clears seats for his family on a crowded subway in under a minute flat, simply by sitting quietly in between two uptight white women. Edited by acclaimed author and speaker Mitali Perkins, this collection of fiction and nonfiction uses a mix of styles as diverse as their authors, from laugh-out-loud funny to wry, ironic, or poingnant, in prose, poetry, and comic form.
Hello Debbie, thanks for stopping by YA Fresh! Please share with our readers what OPEN MIC is about.
Debbie: OPEN MIC is a collection of 10 humorous short stories about growing up between cultures. Edited by the fabulous MG/YA author Mitali Perkins, Open MIC’s contributors are 10 YA authors who have survived this type of colorful upbringing with their sense of humor intact. My story “Voila” follows what happens when my protagonist Simone’s cultural and social worlds collide in the most awkward of places.
Terrific! What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Debbie: Find your own voice. It’s a chief storytelling tool that makes the experience of reading your work unique and enjoyable. I believe that a well-defied voice speaks to readers about as much as your actual writing does.
Who would you cast if your story was made into a movie?
Debbie: This is fun to consider. Okay, I’d go with China Anne McClain from “A.N.T. Farm” as my protagonist Simone; a slightly older version of “Modern Family”’s Rico Rodriguez to play Louis; Bailee Madison would be a good Waverly—she had that Type A personality down pat as Jennifer Aniston’s daughter in “Go With It”; and finally, as the beloved Ma Tante I’d cast Cicely Tyson.
Is your main character someone you wish you could be, someone a lot like you, or your total opposite?
Debbie: My main character Simone and I share cultural backgrounds (Haitian-American), but she is a lot less trusting and much snarkier than I was at that age. Her healthy skepticism keeps her a step ahead of awkward situations, which she handles a whole lot better than I would.
Thanks, Debbie! Let's close with what was the last book you read that you really loved?
Debbie: I'm late to the party on this one, but I recently picked up a few Lois Lowry books and enjoyed them. It was interesting to read what seems to be one of the literary predecessors of today's dystopian YA.
Debbie Rigaud began her writing career covering news and entertainment for popular magazines. Her YA fiction debut, HALLWAY DIARIES/Kimani Tru was followed by the fish-out-of-water romantic comedy PERFECT SHOT/Simon Pulse. Since then, Debbie’s non-fiction essays have been published in anthologies IT’S ALL LOVE/Broadway Books and DEAR BULLY/HarperTeen. Her short story “Voila!” is featured in OPEN MIC/Candlewick Press, and TURFQUAKE, her first YA e-book will be released late 2013. Visit her website, www.debbierigaud.com/.