The Tulsa Public Library will host this free event, offering writing workshops and a diverse panel of speakers.
On Feb. 7, Nimrod will offer a young adult fiction day. While Nimrod’s fall convention answered questions on editing, writing techniques and how perspective influences writing, the spring conference narrows its focus to the “young adult” genre and on crafting narrators, characters and your protagonist. With a selection of authors and guests ranging from Tulsa Artist Fellows, published authors, professors and editors, this exposé and examination of the genre will offer panel discussions, question-and-answer sessions and various opportunities to get to know fellow prospective writers in Tulsa, as well as the panelists.
A bold decision considering the state we’re in, the selection of all women panelists of various races and cultural backgrounds allows for several underrepresented groups in the literary field to emerge and offer unique insights on characters that have historically had … difficulties in literature.
Oftentimes, the YA genre is overlooked by literary scholars, preferring works that would be more digestible as wood pulp than bound books, but there is no denying the immense effect these novels have on both a cultural and personal level, especially by providing good role models when the ones in real life, in my experience, aren’t up to snuff.
Justina Ireland will be one of the anticipated guests to join the panel. Ireland is an African-American writer currently prepping for the release of her second entry into her historical fiction/zombie apocalypse series that began with the release of “Dread Nation” in 2018. As an author, she consistently draws on her heritage and the horrors faced by millions of black individuals suffering from systemic racism, especially that which forces the oppressed to do their dirty work. She is also the recipient of a World Fantasy Award for her work as an editor from the classic fantasy publishing company Tor (not the web browser used to access the deep web), which is known for publishing fantasy giants like Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time and Brandon Snaderson’s Stormlight Archive.
Cindy Pon will also join the panel and offer insights into the art world as a woman who is as accomplished in the literary sphere as she is in the art of traditional Chinese brush painting. As the co-founder of Diversity in YA and acting as an advisor for the We Need Diverse Books charity, Pon channels traditional Chinese stories and folk stories into new forms for a modern world, breathing new life into forgotten myths and painting vivid worlds with eloquent words worthy of a master’s canvas.
The third wordsmith on the docket is Ally Carter, which while a pseudonym, we’re going to use it because that’s the way things are. As an Oklahoma native, Carter first got her start as a published novelist through novels aimed at an older audience, she is most well known for her “Gallagher Girls” series that focused on teen spies in an exclusive, definitely-on-the-NSA-watchlist spy training academy and/or high school.
I’m running out of both creative ways to introduce people and words, so next up is Sonia Gensler. An author with a knack for ghost stories and great taste in the classics, Gensler understands what it means to be a rural kid, growing up in the middle of nowhere Tennessee and holding a variety of odd jobs that have granted her immense experience with the strange and supernatural.
M. Molly Backes is the first of our very own Tulsa Fellows to be mentioned, and as both an experienced novelist and workshop teacher, she has a reputation for bringing out the creative side in all of her students. Legends say that she convinced all of the seventh and eighth grade students in her New Mexico school to write and submit novels for the National Novel Writing Month, which is no small feat considering there were 135 of them.
The final non-academic on the panelist list is another Tulsa Artist Fellow. Juliana Goodman received her masters in fiction writing in 2017 and earned both scholarships and critical acclaim with her fiction, as well as her savvy industry skills to gather viewers. She also happens to be teaching a course on YA lit as a 4000 level special topics class at TU. As for how I know that, I have my sources.
There are about half a dozen more academics that will be attending as guests and panelists, and more information about those amazing individuals, as well as the registration page, can be found online at www.tulsalibrary.org/tulsa-day-ya. Nimrod’s Day of YA will be held at the Tulsa County Library for free on Feb. 22, but one must register to attend. Dude, it’s free and on a Saturday, so why not go?