Kody and Corinne, after checking out your websites I am so impressed with how “together” you are at such a young age and at the beginning of your careers. What great role models you are and I can’t wait to find out more about you both.
You are both published authors in YA fiction, what inspired you to write and why did you choose this particular genre?
Corinne: What inspired me to write was the sheer fun of it, and love of reading. Characters start taking on lives of their own in your head: writing those lives down is the next logical step. As for why YA, the simple reason is ‘Because I love it!’ which is 100% true. An additional reason is that, with my ADD, I’m automatically drawn to faster pacing and vibrant characters, which you’re more likely to find in YA than adult lit.
Kody: I have always been writing. Literally, I’ve been telling stories since I can remember. So it just came naturally to me. It’s hard to say what has inspired me – pretty much everything can impact what I decide to write: movies, music, other books, etc. As far as why YA, I honestly never made an active decision to write YA. It’s just what I’ve always loved, so it’s what I’ve always written. There’s something magical about teenagers – the emotion is so much more raw and present than any other age. I love it.
Kody, you’ve written The Duff, Shut Out and A Midsummer’s Nightmare…where do you find your inspirations?
Kody: Everywhere. Songs, movies, TV shows, other books – it’s hard to pinpoint one thing that has inspired my work. I can draw ideas from so many places, and I never know when it’ll hit me.
Corinne, you’ve written one novel, Otherbound, and a series of short stories. What do you enjoy about each style of writing?
Corinne: I love novels because you can dig deep. You can explore a character from all kinds of different angles, via side characters, plots, backstory–everything you can think of. Short stories, on the other hand, are awesome because you can explore a plot bunny or theme in a very short amount of space: you get in, you say what you want to say, the end. No side plots, no padding, just the heart of an idea. There’s so much room for experiments and odd concepts that a novel can’t always sustain.
Recently, I went to a live reading of selected essays from “Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism.” When an audience member asked about any recommendations for children’s literature with positive character portrayals of autism, Shannon Des Roches, mentioned your July Disability in Kidlit event.
Can you summarize what this online event is all about?
Corinne: It’s about showing how different real-life disabilities are from what’s often portrayed in fiction, and encouraging writers to portray disabled characters both more frequently and, well, better.
Kody: Exactly what Corinne said. For me, the idea was to create a resource for writers. I was so sick of reading books about disabled characters that were so packed with cliches and false assumptions. I thought it would be cool to create a place for writers or readers to come and read true accounts of disability. I want to help people be more informed so that maybe, one day, we’ll end up with more accurate portrayals of disability in fiction.
What prompted you to create such an event?
Corinne: In my case, Kody prompted me via a delightful Twitter DM… so I’ll let her take this one 😉
Kody: Haha. Well, basically, it was feeling annoyed that prompted me. I don’t remember what I’d just seen or read, but something about blindness (I’m legally blind) had really bugged me. It was just so, so off. It made me want to do something to help people realize how wrong these stereotypes were. There were tons of blogs about diversity in YA, but normally they concerned sexuality or race, never disability. So I was like “Why can’t I start this?” So I messaged Corinne, who had shown interest in some of my personal blogs on the topic, and asked her to join me. The rest is history.
Can you share a few highlights of the type of submissions you are posting throughout July?
Corinne: In terms of reviews, we’ve got people taking a critical look at both recent and slightly older lit–from established kidlit authors like Michael Grant and Kiersten White, to up-and-comers like Hilary T. Smith, to award winners like Francisco X. Stork and Jo Walton.
Kody: We also have articles covering a huge range of subject matter that relates to disability. We started the month with a really wonderful post about representation, Kayla Whaley did a really powerful post on disability and sexuality, and author Jennifer Castle is doing a post on friendship and disability. I’m also doing a collaborative post with our other blind contributors that’ll hopefully be a tip sheet for writers who are trying to write blind characters.
Bravo to the two of you for making a difference. May you continue to shine brightly and bring your positive energy to the world.