Skip to content

Tag: Cynthia Leitich Smith

#QP2019 Nominees Round Up, October 30 Edition

Sword Princess Amaltea by Natalia Bautista
Tokyo Pop
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
ISBN: 9781427859174 

This year Tokyo Pop is shaking up the formerly male-dominated graphic novel genre, and Sword Princess Amaltea is one of its flagship titles. Spoiled Princess Amaltea must go and rescue a prince in order to maintain her royal privileges in her matriarchal society. Unfortunately, rescuing the sleeping prince is not nearly as easy as one would hope.

Comments closed

Genre Guide: Paranormal Romances for Teens

Source

Definition

Paranormal Romance is a sub-genre of Romance. For a novel to be a Paranormal Romance, a simple thing must occur: love must begin between a human and a supernatural being (whether wholly supernatural or partially, just as long as there are supernatural elements present). However, this can be a broad interpretation. Usually, the protagonist (often the human) in these novels is put in some kind of danger, where they come to realize they can overcome this danger either on their own or with the help of the supernatural love interest.

Authors to Know

Characteristics
Main characters include both humans and supernatural beings. The supernatural being can be wholly supernatural or partly, and include but are not limited by the following “types”: vampire, werewolf, fairy, magician, mermaid, zombie, psychic, ghost, demon hunter, demon, angel, shapeshifter, dragon, and gods or goddesses.  Additionally, the human in Paranormal Romances can have a touch of the paranormal as well.  An example is the teen psychic that can see the ghost. Quite often, when it comes to paranormal romances written for teens, a love triangle is involved.  There could be more than one human, or more than one supernatural being in the triangle.

Comments closed

Is This Just Fantasy?: It’s A White, White World–And That’s Got To Change.

Just Fantasy PoC fantasyAs a life-long devotee of fantasy fiction, I’ve frequently defended the value of stories that feature dragons, magically gifted heroines, or angst-ridden werewolves.  And while I’ve often stated that fantasy fiction isn’t necessarily an escape from reality simply because it includes magic or ghosts, even the most committed fan must acknowledge that the genre is incredibly disconnected from reality in fatal ways.  For one, fantasy fiction remains an overwhelmingly white world–an area of literature where you might find vampires or psychic detectives but rarely characters of color.

This lack of diversity is a widespread problem in young adult literature and the larger publishing industry but speculative fiction is especially guilty of inequitable representation within its stories and industry.  Just last week, The Guardian published an article by speculative fiction author & essayist Daniel José Older  discussing the insidious ways that systemic racism and white privilege has permeated the science fiction and fantasy publishing & fan communities.  At last month’s YALSA Young Adult Literature Symposium, there was an entire panel titled “Where Are The Heroes of Color in Fantasy & Sci-Fi?”, which Hub blogger Hannah Gómez recapped with great accuracy & insight.

So, how do we, as readers, fans, & promoters of these genres, demand & nurture fiction with imaginary worlds as diverse as the one we live in?  To start, we need to read, buy, promote, and request titles by and about people of color.  Accordingly, I pulled together some authors and titles to check out, focusing on fiction that falls on the fantasy side of speculative fiction.  This list is far from comprehensive; for more titles, I recommend checking out Lee & Low’s genre-specific Pinterest board, Diversity in YA, and We Need Diverse Books.

High Fantasy

2004 Edwards Award winnerearthsea Ursula K. Le Guin has long been considered one of the best and most beloved high fantasy writers; she’s also consistently written stories with people of color as protagonists–although film adaptions & book covers have often blatantly ignored this, white-washing characters like Ged, the brown-skinned protagonist of A Wizard of Earthsea.  The 2013 Edwards Award winner Tamora Pierce also includes characters of color in her novels; her Emelan books feature both black & multiracial protagonists.

silver phoenixFans of thrilling adventures & complex heroines should try novels by Cindy Pon, Ellen Oh, or Malinda Lo for rich high fantasy tales rooted in a variety of East Asian cultures.  Cindy Pon’s lush & exciting Silver Phoenix and its sequel, The Fury of the Phoenix follow young Ai Ling as she discovers her unique abilities and battles an ancient evil based in the royal palace. Ellen Oh’s Dragon King Chronicles (beginning with Prophecy) also focuses on a powerful young woman struggling to embrace her destiny–the yellow-eyed demon slayer Kira who might be the key to saving the Seven Kingdoms from destruction.  Malinda Lo’s Ash (2010 Morris Award finalist, 2014 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults and Huntress (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012 Rainbow List, 2012 Amelia Bloomer List) are richly imagined, romantic novels I recommend to all fantasy readers!

4 Comments

YA Lit Symposium: Where are the Heroes of Color in SFF?

YALSA_LitSymposium2014Friday afternoon at the YALSA YA Lit Symposium, I attended Where Are the Heroes of Color in Fantasy and Sci Fi?, which boasted quite the list of presenters and participating authors/editor. Led by Sarah Murphy, Kerry Roeder, Angela Ungaro, of The Watchers Podcast, the session started by acknowledging the fact that indeed, there are already quite a few heroes of color in SFF that we can pull out from history, thanks to authors like Octavia Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin. But we all know that there aren’t enough, and that’s a shame, especially when movements like We Need Diverse Books prove that we want them. To that end, participating authors Amalie Howard, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, and Cynthia Leitich Smith, plus editors Joe Monti and Stacy Whitman (who joined via video), discussed their experiences in the diverse (or not-so-diverse) world of publishing and genre fiction, especially in YA.

While there is much to say about diversity in YA literature that would take much longer than a simple post to get to, let’s agree that science fiction and fantasy seem especially to suffer from excessive whiteness (and excessive abledness, hetero-ness, etc, but that was not the theme of this session), probably due to the fact that publishers seem to think that characters of color only belong in realistic stories about very specific racialized experiences that are sanctioned by the status quo, like a story about a black person during the Civil Rights movement or a story about a Latino who is crossing the border into the United States. The question of the day seemed to be why there seems to be such resistance to genres that imagine entirely new worlds going on to imagine that people of color might be in them?

The presenters and participants all shared their frustration for the current state of publishing and their passion for changing it. Monti, who will be running his own new imprint, Saga Press, at Simon & Schuster, did not hold back from calling out other publishers’ refusal to change. He noted fighting with someone over a new cover of A Wizard of Earthsea, which failed to make Ged, the main character, black, even though the author has done nothing but insist that Ged is black. Monti noted that “we can’t get to a deeper truth if we ignore half the world…I don’t understand how a school system can be majority minority and publishers think Latinos are niche.” He said he strongly believes diversity will sell, because good stories are good stories, plain and simple.

1 Comment

Genre Guide: Urban Fantasy for Teens

Urban FantasyDefinition
Urban fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy. For a novel to be an urban fantasy, fantastical elements exist in an urban setting. However, this can be a broad interpretation. Really, an urban fantasy is such where fantastical elements are in play in a real-world setting and not in a fantastical world. Urban fantasies occur in the present day, and can go back in history to around the start of the Victorian Era. When urban fantasies are written for teens, the protagonist or protagonists are often inexperienced when it comes to dealing with the fantastical forces at play. They are also usually drawn into a struggle, find romance, and/or develop their own fantastical abilities.

Authors to Know

2 Comments

New Short Story Anthologies

With the upcoming release of what is sure to be a wonderful short story anthology edited by Neil Gaiman, Unnatural Creatures, I’ve seen many interesting new short storiy anthologies geared towards young adults. Inspired and intrigued by this new spate of collections, I’ve investigated some of the newest and most appealing.

The short story can appeal to the voracious, if slightly scattered reader: it gives you just enough to keep you engaged and excited but leaves you wanting more. One could say anthologies of this kind are like tapas: multiple little delicious appetizers that by themselves wouldn’t fill you up, but put them together and they make a satisfying meal. I’ve spent my time reading through these great new short story anthologies for your tasting pleasure.

afterAfter: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
This is the perfect book for the reader who just can’t get enough dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction. All of the selections are set after various terrible and world-ending events have taken place. Whether it be a terrible disease that turns people into vampires who hunt in packs or beetles who eat all metal (including the fillings in your teeth) or a dispatch from a resident of a world where education has deteriorated to the point of nonexistence, all are thought-provoking. This book also includes a story set in the world of Beth Revis’s Across the Universe trilogy, a treat for fans! My highlight of the book? “The Segment” by Genevieve Valentine, where news broadcasts are scripted and cast as precisely as a Hollywood blockbuster, and a popular news story brings an actor the danger of worldwide recognition.

2 Comments

Choose a Book by Its Cover

Every Day was one of The Atlantic Wire's most Wonderful Book Covers of 2012
Every Day was one of The Atlantic Wire’s most Wonderful Book Covers of 2012

Choosing a book by its cover is typically frowned upon, but lately I have been finding that it can be a great idea for both readers and libraries! Creating a book display centered solely on book cover art is not a new concept, but it is a visually appealing way to successfully recommend some good books. My library first learned about creating book recommendations based on the cover art for teens from another local teen librarian who was asking her teen advisory board to choose the next year’s lineup of book displays, with most of her displays choices being centered on similar visual imagery on book covers. What has been a surprise to me, though, is how popular some of our cover-themed displays have been with readers of all ages. They are eye-catching, they draw a browser in, and, as a result, we are constantly restocking these displays.

7 Comments

Angel Fantasy – Not All Are Divine

Angel fantasy is a little different than your average supernatural romance. I think most of us can agree that vampires and werewolves are not real. However, according to a recent poll featured on NBC News, 75% of Americans believe in the existence of heavenly angels. Many new books have been written in this sub-genre. I believe for angel fantasy to really work, it must have some religion in it. The ones without it feel flat to me. In that spirit, I bring you my favorite new angel fantasy novels.

 

I just finished Unearthly by Cynthia Hand and loved it! Clara is an angel-blood. Her mother is half angel (so Clara is a quarter angel) and over 100 years old. Clara has some amazing powers such as a blinding heavenly light. She has wings and can speak any language including a secret angelic one. At the beginning of the story, she starts having visions. These visions help an angel understand her purpose here on earth. She sees a forest fire, a silver SUV and (prepare to swoon) a ridiculously gorgeous boy. Her family packs up and moves to Wyoming where, on her first day of school, she runs into the boy from her vision. Clara is not sure if she is truly attracted to him, or it is just because her purpose is tied to him. Her powers grow as her purpose comes closer. She is distracted by another boy, Tucker, who irritated her at first. Twilight fans will love how romance blossoms between Clara and the two boys. Cynthia Hand did a beautiful job developing the characters, including Clara’s fascinating half angel mother. The story had enough twists and turns to keep me interested. The heavenly light is described as a way they communicate with God. I truly missed the characters when I was done with the book and can’t wait for the sequel, Hallowed.

Comments closed

What’s Cooking?

2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults: Part II: What’s Cooking? Each year the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults committee searches for the most popular paperbacks…

Comments closed