“My inclination is going to be to find books that other people might not view as feasible or doable. I feel like I’m the guy to do that.”—Kwame Alexander, whose new imprint, Versify, at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, seeks “risky, unconventional” children’s books, in theNew York Times. Versify’s first titles will arrive in spring 2019.
“They don’t know that I wrote them generations ago. They think I wrote them yesterday for them, for the most part.”—Judy Blume on today’s young readers’ discovering the allure of Superfudge or Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, in a conversation with NPR’s Rachel Martin. Blume was recently feted by the New York literati at Symphony Space in honor of her 80th birthday.
“Include them and compensate them properly. It’s not enough to say, ‘Come in the room and tell us about yourself.’ Give black writers the space to do the work they want to do. Make sure there’s mentorship in order. Listen to their perspective. Pay them accordingly, as you would your white colleagues. You need to help make sure these people are sustained.”—New York Times bestselling essayist Morgan Jerkins, author of This Will Be My Undoing, on how white writers and critics can work to listen to and understand black voices, at VICE
“[It’s] powerful for young people to be reading about people outside of their cultures. The honor that this platform provides is incredible. Another thing that is really incredible to me is the opportunity to introduce Filipino culture to young people who don’t have enough of it. It means more than I can put into words.”—Children’s author/illustrator Erin Entrada Kelly, winner of the 2018 John Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe,in the Philadelphia Inquirer
“The pacing is always changing depending on what’s happening in the scene. When you do get in those more romantic moments, is it clumsy, is it sexy, is it scintillating? That will tell you how to tell the story, which will help keep them enthralled.”—Narrator and director Adenrele Ojo, one of five romance-reading audiobook actors interviewed by Ron Charles for Valentine’s Day, in the Washington Post
“You have to give it some authenticity. You have to ‘go there’ with your voice. I don’t smoke, but if I did, I’d share a cigarette with my engineer afterwards.”—Audiobook actor Jim Frangione, aka the voice of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, in the Washington Post
Megan Labrise is a staff writer and the co-host of the Kirkus podcast, Fully Booked. The photo above left of Erin Entrada Kelly is by Laurence Kesterson; the photo above right of Morgan Jerkins is by Sylvie Rosokoff.