Giveaways Inspirations and Influences

Diversity in YA: Guest post by Francisco Stork & Giveaway

Hello everybody! Today we are going to be talking about – and celebrating – Diversity in YA.

Diversity in YA Fiction is a website and book tour founded by two young adult authors, Malinda Lo (author of Ash and Huntress) and Cindy Pon (author of Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix), to celebrate diverse stories in YA.

DIYA is a positive, friendly gathering of readers and writers who want to see diversity in their fiction. They seek to bring attention to MG and YA books featuring people of color, LGBT characters, and any other “diverse” characters. Every week on their website they’ll be featuring books that include diversity, from realistic, contemporary novels to absorbing historicals and adventurous fantasy.

The celebration of Diversity in YA is two-fold. The authors will be going on a five-city tour in May 2011 with the following stops:

San Francisco, California

Saturday, May 7 at 3 p.m.
San Francisco Public Library (Main Library)
Latino-Hispanic Room
100 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

Highlighting Asian American YA books with authors Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, Gene Luen Yang, and J.A. Yang.

Austin, Texas

Monday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m.
603 N. Lamar
Austin TX 78703

With authors Bethany Hegedus, Malinda Lo, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Cindy Pon, Dia Reeves, and Jo Whittemore, and moderated by Varian Johnson.

Chicago, Illinois

Tuesday, May 10 from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m.
Barbara’s Bookstore
1218 South Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60607

With authors Malinda Lo, Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, Nnedi Okorafor, and Cindy Pon.

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Thursday, May 12 at 7 p.m.
Cambridge Public Library (Main Library)
Lecture Hall
449 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02138

With authors Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan, Deva Fagan, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, and Francisco X. Stork, and moderated by Roger Sutton. Books available for sale from Porter Square Books.

New York, New York

Friday, May 13 at 6:30 p.m.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
208 West 13th Street
New York, NY 10011

Highlighting LGBT YA books with authors Cris Beam, David Levithan, Malinda Lo, and Jacqueline Woodson. Books available for sale from Mobile Libris.

Saturday, May 14 at 1 p.m.
Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

With authors Matt de la Peña, Malinda Lo, Kekla Magoon, Neesha Meminger, Cindy Pon, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Jacqueline Woodson, and moderated by Cheryl Klein

San Diego, California

October 2011
Details TBA
San Diego, CA

Highlighting YA fantasy and science fiction with authors Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black, Malinda Lo, and Cindy Pon

In addition to the traveling tour, they’re putting together a virtual one.
And we are delighted to be a part of it with a guest post by Francisco Stork, author of the excellent Marcelo in the Real World, amongst other novels.

Please give it up for Francisco Stork!

The Tug of My Heart

When I started writing young adult literature fifteen years ago at the ripe age of forty-five, I didn’t think of “diversity” as a goal or an ideal. I never questioned the fact that the story would be about a Mexican-American young man growing up in the projects of El Paso, Texas. For one thing, that first book was semi-autobiographical, as first books tend to be. I wanted to convey to my teen-age children a little about how life was for their father. Now that I think about it, there has never been any doubt in my mind that my books would be about Hispanic young people. I do notice, however, that I am more conscious of a certain responsibility towards my background, my heritage, my culture.

I know that “responsibility” is a loaded word when it comes to writing. I should be free to write about anything in the world and yet, how else to describe that inner tug that keeps me tethered to a certain, peculiar fragment of the real world. “Responsibility” denotes a sense of duty, of obligation. What I feel toward my Hispanic young people is much more than that. Writing about them is not only what I have to do, it is also what I want to do. Responsibility here is the kind that springs from love.

The tug of my heart is not only towards writing about Hispanic young people, it is also towards a certain kind of literature. I have always been attracted to serious literature. By serious I mean the kind of literature that encourages in the reader reflection about the big questions of life. Why am I here? Where am I going? What do I believe in and does it really matter? I happen to think that these questions are taken seriously in adolescence and so my young Hispanic characters are intimately involved with these questions. They live and strive, struggle and survive in a world where those ultimate concerns are vitally real. These brave young people I create become, for me at least, beacons of courage and hope.

Hope. That’s what young adult literature is about, isn’t it? My hope is that in reading my stories, the reader will notice and then forget that my characters are Hispanic. Even though, my young heroes will always be specifically Hispanic, I would like them to represent what is essential in all young people regardless of race and ethnicity. I would like the reader, whatever his or her background, to look into the soul of my characters and see his or her reflection.

In every kind of good writing there is always a tension between the specific and the universal. Details make the story, but the details need to serve a larger purpose. I would like the Hispanic young people in my stories to live and breathe in the imagination of my readers. If I am lucky they will continue to be real long after the book is closed. I would like to think that in becoming more realistically Hispanic, my characters also become more realistically human. And to be more and more human is my biggest responsibility.

Francisco X. Stork is the author of several novels, including Marcelo in the Real World (Arthur A. Levine /Scholastic, 2009) and The Last Summer of the Death Warriors (Arthur A. Levine/ Scholastic, 2010). Marcelo in the Real World received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, The Horn Book, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Booklist, and won the 2010 Schneider Family Book Award. The Last Summer of the Death Warriors received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, The Horn Book, and Booklist. Visit Francisco’s website at Francisco will be joining Diversity in YA in Boston.


One lucky winner will win ONE book randomly picked from a selection of books from the authors in the tour:

Deva Fagan – Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle

Holly Black – White Cat

Cindy Pon – Fury of the Phoenix

Bethany Hedgedus – Truth with a Capital T

Sarah Rees Brennan – The Demon’s Covenant

Francisco X Stork – The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

Gene Luen Yang – Level Up

Dia Reeves – Slice of Cherry

Jacqueline Woodson – If You Come Softly & Behind You

Nnedi Okorafor – Akata Witch

Malinda Lo – Huntress

In order to win, leave a comment on this post. Contest is open to US residents ONLY and will run till Saturday May 14 11:59PM (PST). One entry per person please. Good luck!

You Might Also Like


  • soc_puppet
    May 5, 2011 at 6:15 am

    Sounds cool. 8)

  • Brittney
    May 5, 2011 at 6:16 am

    This is so exciting! I’ve been trying to make an effort to read more YA novels starring diverse characters and this will be so helpful. 🙂

  • Hann1bal
    May 5, 2011 at 6:22 am

    O HAI.

    Diversity in YA does sound like a very commendable goal.

  • Rin
    May 5, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Sounds wonderful!

  • Maya S
    May 5, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Oooh this is fabulous! I hope I can make it to the San Diego event in the fall!

  • Tatiana
    May 5, 2011 at 7:12 am

    Where are the east coast tour, ugh

  • Sarah
    May 5, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Brilliant post. And THIS–

    I would like to think that in becoming more realistically Hispanic, my characters also become more realistically human. And to be more and more human is my biggest responsibility.

    –YES, so much YES.

    I LOVED Marcelo in the Real World and Mr. Stork’s other novels are high on my to-read list.

  • Jamie
    May 5, 2011 at 7:48 am

    I love novels involving meaningful diversity. There’s a richness, a believability that is lost when all of the characters are white, straight, middle-class, or in some other way typical of mainstream fictional characters.

  • Lauren
    May 5, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Gues who’s gonna be in San Francisco on Saturday at the library? ME! I’m so excited! I think DIYA is doing something wonderful and I wholeheartedly support their cause. As a person of color, when I read books that feature a character that is not white/caucasian, it makes an instant connect for me. I like that. I like being able to connect with characters on more than one level.

    Most of the books are already on my “Must Buy & Read ASAP” list. But the ones that weren’t before, sure as hell are now!

  • Lindsay Smith
    May 5, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Fantastic. I love watching the DIYA chats on Twitter!

  • Sarah C.
    May 5, 2011 at 9:10 am

    I love the Diversity in YA writers! I visit their website all the time.

  • wandering-dreamer
    May 5, 2011 at 9:16 am

    More contests? Yay! Really wish the tour was going somewhere near me but I wish for that every time an author’s tour dates go up so no surprise there. XD

  • Jolene A
    May 5, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Wow, amazing giveaway. I’m in love with YA and the amazing storylines they put out. These stories are filled with such depth it sucks me right in. Thanks so much for the chance to win, crossing fingers


  • Lauren jean
    May 5, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I think what these authors are doing is very admirable. I would love to win any one of these books.

  • Katie
    May 5, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I’m all for diversity in YA fiction. I would love to win one of these books.

  • MarieC
    May 5, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Count me in! Through Booksmugglers, I found so many great YA authors/books!

  • Mel
    May 5, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I can’t even explain how much diversity in YA fiction makes me happy. Especially sci-fi/fantasy YA. I’m so excited for more authors like Dia Reeves and Karen Healey to write more stories!

  • Stephanie
    May 5, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I so wish I could attend. I so want to meet them and get those books!

  • Rachael L
    May 5, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Great interview. Thank you for the giveaway!

  • Lauren
    May 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    What a wonderful thing for authors to strive for! ~ L

  • Emily Thompson
    May 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Sounds like an interesting concept! I especially like the logo! ;D

  • jenmitch
    May 5, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    What a wonderful post! I believe Mr. Stork absolutely succeeds in his goals. I hope I can make it to the panel in Cambridge next week. 🙂

  • Vicky Alvear Shecter
    May 5, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Count me in! I’ve read about a third of these books and I’m looking forward to reading them all.

  • Nastacia
    May 5, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    You know, it’s funny, beacuse diversity is something I don’t specifically wonder about when reading. At least, not in such clear terms. It’s more as if I recognize how much diversity can be lacking in literature when I find examples of it, such as in Patricia Brigg’s novels.

  • Teresa N
    May 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Looks like a great tour! Thanks for the giveaway! This also definitely reminds me to bump up “Huntress” to the top of my TBR pile.

  • Robin K
    May 5, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Would love to be entered!

    robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    May 5, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Please enter me in contest. I would love to win one of those books.

  • Lieder Madchen
    May 5, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    These books look wonderful. Why doesn’t your tour come up to Portland?

  • Jen B.
    May 5, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    I am always looking for new YA authors. It’s interesting that Francisco specifically writes hispanic lead characters. I find that if I am pulled in to the story fully, I don’t think about the ethnicity of the characters.

  • Amy C
    May 5, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Interesting that they hit the two Californian cities at the beginning and the end rather than one after the other.

  • Ginny
    May 5, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    The whole idea of diversity interests me greatly and I can’t wait for a copy of any of the books listed. Thanks girls! 😀

  • Scribe Kira
    May 5, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    i love all of these books!!! thanks for the awesome giveaway!!!!=o)

  • Lucia Hua
    May 5, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I’ve only read Holly Black’s and Malinda Lo’s books, but I would love to read more. It really is interesting to have much more diversity in the books we read, because today’s society is so much more diverse.

  • Priya
    May 5, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    This sounds wonderful! Would love to win =]

  • Leanna H
    May 5, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    I have never read any of these authors and I love to discover new authors.

  • Melanie L
    May 5, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    This is a great idea. I didn’t know about the Diversity in YA website. I’m gonna have to go check it out.

  • Van P.
    May 5, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    love the idea, thanks for the giveaway!

  • liz
    May 5, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I loved this post. I love the whole concept and idea of promoting diversity in YA books. Would be pleased as punch to get any of these wonderful sounding books. yay

  • de Pizan
    May 5, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I love the Diversity in YA tour/website, and like what Stork says about YA being about hope, interesting way to think about it. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Stephanie K.
    May 5, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    This is a wonderful idea! It’s great see many different groups of people represented in YA. Thanks for the contest.

  • Courtney
    May 5, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    I might actually be in Austin while this is going on. I might stop by it!

  • Chelsea B.
    May 5, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Inspiring post 🙂

  • Elly
    May 5, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Free books are awesome. 😀

  • Tiah
    May 6, 2011 at 12:51 am

    I find myself more and more in the YA section in the bookstore than any other. And I’m not alone either. I think this is great.

  • tim
    May 6, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Nice information this is very exciting and interesting

  • debbie
    May 6, 2011 at 3:43 am

    I wish I could go to one, but unfortunately, none are near me. I think this is a great idea, I hope they are successful.

  • Sybil Nelson
    May 6, 2011 at 6:01 am

    OMG! I love this! I love to see diversity in YA literature. All of titles under my pen name Leslie DuBois are interracial.

    BTW. I love Jacqueline Woodson!

  • Rebecca
    May 6, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Thanks for the contest and the heads up about the tour.

  • Ash
    May 6, 2011 at 8:44 am

    San Diego! I hope by some chance I can make it there…it’s not too far away.

  • Dana
    May 6, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Another give away! You guys are great. And these are some amazing authors.. Oh, and thanks for posting the blog schedule- I actually have found one location close to home – I’ll go for sure 😀

  • Amanda Lee
    May 6, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Wow, those authors are a who’s who of fantastic! 😀

  • Kaethe
    May 6, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I’m glad you’re doing this! That is a fabulous list of authors/works!

  • Katy
    May 6, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Mr. Stork, the “tug on your heart” is exactly the reason why I became of a literature teacher! My inner soul wholeheartedly agrees with you!

  • Tina
    May 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks for the chance to win! This is a great list of books/authors

  • Melissa (Books and Things)
    May 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Oh enter me please. I love so many of those books!
    books (dot) things (at) yahoo (dot) com

  • Throuthehaze
    May 6, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  • Audra Holtwick
    May 7, 2011 at 12:56 am

    I think opening the minds of young adults about different culture and lifestyles through reading is super.

  • Mary
    May 7, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Thanks for the giveaway!! 😀

  • Erica
    May 7, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Great contest with equally great books(:

  • The Book Smugglers » Blog Archive » Smugglers’ Stash
    May 8, 2011 at 2:36 am

    […] are still running the Diversity in YA giveaway. Read HERE for more details and to […]

  • Cindi
    May 8, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    What a delightful book giveaway…
    Many thanks, Cindi

  • Jackie
    May 10, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Diversity in YA is a great website–I just wish I could make it to the physical tour!

  • Alina
    May 13, 2011 at 7:44 am

    I think its really important for YA to have fictional characters that they can relate to.

  • Megan
    May 13, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    As a librarian I’m always looking for books to reflect diversity for students.
    mearley1979 at gmail dot com

  • Morgan
    May 13, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I was really disappointed when I heard that this tour wasn’t coming anywhere near me, or even to a state close enough to drive to.

    As a children’s librarian I know how important it is to make sure we keep diverse books on the shelves for teens and personally I’ve been dying to get my hands on Dia Reeve’s Slice of Cherry.

  • Jess (The Cozy Reader)
    May 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Oh, nice list of books! I’ve love to win one!

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    thecozyreader @

  • Sunday Salon – The Importance of Diversity in Fiction « Rhapsody in Books Weblog
    June 3, 2012 at 3:18 am

    […] X. Stork, another favorite author of mine, made some interesting comments in his interview over at The Book Smugglers: My hope is that in reading my stories, the reader will notice and then forget that my characters […]

Leave a Reply