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How To Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake Blog Tour | Author Interview + GIVEAWAY!

Hey, y’all! It’s Lila! Today I’m so happy to welcome Ashley Herring Blake to the blog to have a conversation with me on diversity and her sophomore novel, How To Make A Wish! Ms. Blake is also the author of Suffer Love, which was released in 2016! Stick around to read our conversation and you’ll also find a giveaway at the end! So let’s dive in…

Ashley Herring Blake Interview

Hello, Ms. Blake! I’m so happy to welcome you here today on The Bookkeepers’ Secrets and to have a chance to speak with you! Your much anticipated second novel, How To Make A Wish, is released on May 2, 2017 and I’ve seen so much praise for it already! I, myself, along with many of my readers are really anticipating the book! So let’s dive right in!

1. To start off, can you give us the simple elevator pitch for How To Make A Wish?

Oh, I am so awful at these, but I’ll try! A girl must decide if she can break free from her toxic relationship with her mother while navigating friendship and falling in love with another girl. Eh? I don’t know, I told you I was awful at these. ☺

2. Diversity is a big issue in the community at the moment and How To Make A Wish is an incredibly diverse story, as well an #ownvoices book. Why do you write diverse books and why do you think they’re important?

Well, I’m not even sure I’d say I write diverse books—I just try to write books that reflect our world. Diversity is our reality. It’s not a trend or a marketing ploy—it is our world. I want to write inclusively because I want to provide readers with opportunities to find themselves. That being said, some stories are not mine to tell. I very much believe in #ownvoices stories and, as a bi woman, those stories will always be the ones I gravitate toward to tell for my main characters. I often write in first person, and I don’t think that being in the head of a person with whose experience I could not even beging to communicate well is my story to tell. However, I do believe in writing characters that reflect our world, which why, I try very hard to include characters who are not only cishet-white-abeled-neurotypical. And, in doing so, I see that as a vast responsibilty to do no harm and to do the work to create a relatable, multi-layered character.

3. One of the things that has me, a multiracial reader, excited for the book is some snippets I’ve seen concerning a biracial character that I really identified with. I’ve also seen other bi/multiracial readers who received ARCs say that the rep was incredible. In writing a biracial character, you were writing “out of your lane” (writing characters whose identity and/or heritage you don’t share) yet you’ve managed to write the rep so well and in such a way that many of us (bi/multiracial people, that is) can agree and identify with the character. Given this, what is what do you think it is that allowed you to write something that rings true for so many of us that are bi/multiracial, even though that was/is not your experience?

Ha, well, I answered a bit of this in the question above, but honesty, in writing Eva, I had a LOT of help. I had several biracial readers check her, I listened when biracial people talked on social media, and I strived to give her a backstory and a current struggle that felt real and multi-layered. I’m so glad that she resonates for biracial readers—I can’t even express how glad—but I absolutely have to send myriad shout-outs to my first readers, as well as those who are generous enough to share their experiences on social media and blogs.

4. There’s obviously a diversity of experiences within a marginalized group of people. How do you make the story you’re telling such that if people can’t relate to every aspect of it, they can at least empathize with and respect the story you’re telling?

Well, it’s true that one story cannot be all things to all people. However, I think that, as human beings, if I’ve done my job correctly, people should be able to find something, some nugget of truth or detail, to which they can relate, as you said. Specifically writing a bisexual character, I know that Grace’s experiences is not going to be all experiences. Her experience wasn’t even my experience. She knew she was bi at 14! Oh, the envy! It took me almost twenty more years to figure that out for myself. However, the ways in which I did figure it out are very similar to how Grace did. And, again, a lot of that comes from listening to other bisexuals talk about their experience. As you said, no identity is a monolith, and there are problematic views and opinions even among marginalized communities. I had to be on the lookout, personally for internalized biphobia! I had five bisexual readers on this book to double check Grace. But, when it comes down to it, I think writing a character to whom people can relate comes down to two main things: 1) Listen to other people of that identity, even if it’s your own identity. Just shhhhh, and listen. 2) Write a damn good character. By that, I mean, I have to do my job as a writer which means creating multi-faceted characters who feel real. If I do that, I think reader will be able to find something to relate to.

5. Let’s take a break from heavy questions and have a bit of fun! If your characters were transformed into animals reflective of their personalities, what would they be and why?

Great question! Grace would definitely be a cat. She’s a bit prickly at times, but also cuddly when she wants to be. Luca would absolutely be a puppy. Eva, I picture as a cheetah—graceful and lithe.

6. What do you hope readers take away from How To Make A Wish?

That sometimes, being selfish is the only way to survive. By that I mean, sometimes you have to choose yourself before you choose anyone else and, by doing so, tha is loving someone.

About How To Make A Wish

book cover.jpegAuthor: Ashley Herring Blake

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Release Date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, GLTBQIA

Synopsis: All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

About Ashley Herring Blake

AshleyAshley Herring Blake is a reader, writer, and mom to two boisterous boys. She holds a Master’s degree in teaching and loves coffee, arranging her books by color, and watching Buffy over and over again on Netflix with her friends. She’s the author of the young adult novels SUFFER LOVE and HOW TO MAKE A WISH.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest

GIVEAWAY! (US ONLY)

  • Win 1 Finished Copy of How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
  • US Only
  • Follow the tour for more chances to win
  • Runs through May 5th
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April 26

April 27

Becca @ Lost in Lit– Review + Favorite Quotes

April 28

Boricuan Bookworms– Guest Post

April 29

April 30

Afire Pages– Guest Post

May 1

Vicarious Bookworm– Review + Favorite Quotes

May 2

Daffodilsreads– Review + Favorite Quotes
The Book Return– Review
discussions, Lila

Lila Wonders…Can You Like A Book That You Also Find Problematic?

Recently there’s been a lot of talk surrounding problematic books and what authors, bloggers, and readers should be doing about those books. Inevitably, the question was raised: is it possible to like a book, yet still recognize it as problematic. So today I’m going to be exploring that question. Bear in mind, I’m not writing this post to necessarily come to any conclusions, but to explore the many facets of this question.

So before I jump in, I want to clarify what I mean by “problematic.” When I say a book is “problematic,” I mean that the book has a flawed, stereotypical, discriminatory, and/or harmful way of treating marginalized characters. Who are marginalized people? Anyone who is not straight, white, able-bodied, Christian, neurotypical, physically and/or mentally “well” (for lack of a better word), and/or wealthy or middle class.

Okay, so now we’ve cleared that up, let’s get back to the main topic: can you like a book while recognizing that it’s problematic.

I think it’s complicated. In truth, a book can be problematic in one facet, yet empowering in another. There’s also the fact that the issue of whether you can like a book while recognizing that it’s problematic is tried up in many other tangled issues.

For instance: there are often varying opinions of what’s problematic. Marginalized people (obviously) aren’t a monolith. There are plenty of things that some view as “problematic” that others don’t view as problematic. Who do you listen to???

In all honesty, I have no right to answer that question, even as a marginalized person myself.

Then there’s The Big Money Issue. By reading problematic books, you’re giving money to an author that actively puts out problematic works (yes, even if you just borrowed the book from the library). This sends the author and the publisher the message that the fact that the book is problematic really doesn’t matter.

Now I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life or spend your money. I’m a woman of color who’s disabled and poor, yet there are plenty of books that I’m split on–they have some problematic aspects but I also really enjoy them. Take for example, one of my favorite book series: the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. This series is overflowing with problems! The author killed off the single person of color and used them as a plot device to further the white protagonist’s story! The minute a character became disabled, Maas cut that character out of the story! Until very recently, there was no diversity of sexual orientation in the series–and when it did finally show up, it felt as though Maas had just thrown it in there as a afterthought to combat the previous criticism that her books weren’t diverse! But…I still kinda love the series?

Now, for me, as a woman of color who is disabled, that is a personal choice that I get to make based on the fact that Maas’s work directly perpetuates negative stereotypes of people like me. It’s not that I’m okay with that, but I understand the issues of my people enough to recognize that these stereotypes are untrue and harmful. But a white, straight, able-bodied person may not be able to recognize that. They may take those stereotypes to be truth rather than fiction. And that isvery real problem for people like me because when that person takes those stereotypes to be truth, they treat actual people like caricatures rather than living, breathing human beings. And that’s a problem.

So now I’m between a rock and a hard place. Do I give money to this series that is harmful to my people, thus sending the message to publishers that the harm they are doing to us is totally okay, or do I abstain from a series that I love?

I’m going to be honest here: I don’t know what to do. Both sides of the debate have valid points and I’m the unfortunate soul stuck in the middle.

I think that at this point, for me, personally, it comes down to the author’s words and actions. Have they recognized the problems with their story? If so, have they either a) given a satisfactory explanation as to why their story has problematic elements or b) accepted responsibility, apologized, and begun to actively work towards fixing the issues in their story?

So you see how this question is much more tricky than one way or another? Like I said, I don’t want to come to any conclusions. Marginalized or not, it is not my place to tell you what to read. The best I can do is present what I know to be the clearest, most unbiased view of the issue and allow you to come to your own conclusions, because even I am not free from flaws. I encourage you to think this over and discuss it in the comments and to come to your own conclusions. However, I must insist that you be respectful to me and to others.

Thanks for reading y’all and have a great day!

fun

#DiverseReads Spotlight | Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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Everything, Everything is an incredible debut novel by Nicola Yoon that is perfect for ffans of John Green and good novels! But in addition to being an incredibly moving story, Everything, Everything is also diverse!

IT HAS:

  • A biracial, non-white protagonnist (half Black and half Asian)
  • A physically ill protagonist
  • non-white secondary characters

It has–dare I say it–everything!

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fun

#DiverseReads Spotlight | The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

I LOVE The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer! AND I would like to congratulate it for not just being an awesome series, but for also having one of the most diverse cast of characters I’ve ever seen! AND IT’S A SCI FI!

WE HAVE!

  • Disabled characters (Cinder, Thorne)!
  • Characters of color (Winter)!
  • Mentally ill characters (Winter)!
  • Empowered women!
  • Strong female friendships!

WELL DONE, MARISSA MEYER, WELL DONE!

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