Writing in Color: Fourteen Writers on the Lessons We’ve Learned

S. & S./McElderry. Aug. 2023. 256p. ed. by Azad, Nafiza & Melody Simpson, eds. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781665925648.
Gr 6 Up–A selection of contemporary authors of color—including Chloe Gong, Adiba Jaigirdar, Darcie Little Badger, Gail D. Villanueva, Julian Winters, and more—relays their experiences in the writing world, infusing personal stories with advice on craft and breaking into the publishing world. Featuring 16 essays, the collection is broken into two sections, the first focusing on craft and the latter on industry specifics. The authors echo a history as avid readers and the need to draw from the greater world around them. Additionally, the themes of authenticity and agency, the ability to tell one’s own story on one’s own terms, weave throughout the narratives. While the advice and recommendations can be vague at times, there are a plethora of questions for young writers to ask themselves and get them started in writing. The second half of the book focuses on the somewhat dismal publishing world, frequently unkind and negligent to writers, particularly writers of color. The essays do not sugarcoat the grueling process, but offer hope and inspiration for aspiring writers with the message that marginalized voices desperately need to be heard. Scattered throughout the shop-talk are intriguing and warming stories from the authors’ own lives, almost like mini-memoirs.
VERDICT Never patronizing or minimizing, the authors’ guidance offers young writers a solid road map for entering the publishing world. This how-to collection by writers of color is a necessity in the genre, and may likely appeal to non-writers who are fans of the authors for insight into their craft.

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