Hey All of you YA Lovers Around the Globe ~
As you may have picked up on, YA or Young Adult Books & it’s readers & writers & communities—are spinning webs around the world connecting us in new ways. As a way to appreciate that, I’ve asked some International and American authors to share what that means to them. This week and next will be filled with their responses! We would love to hear YOUR responses too! Either comment below or send me your response on my contact page. Read the original Global YA post here.
Today’s Global YA International Author is the lovely Swedish writer, Athena Freya Greyson, who also assists with #kidpit, one of our beloved twitter contests that connects writers with brilliant agents. She is beyond talented and her stories reflect a global flavor in every way. Don’t miss her magical blog here. (For someone like me, who has lived in Scandinavia, I really want to see her Scan-characters in print!!!) Athena is currently polishing her manuscript in order to query. Hint: I really love her response.
So, Athena, What does Global YA mean to you?
It means everything. It means giving a Swedish young writer and avid reader the opportunity to read a book like The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas, and feel its heartbreak. It means escaping to the Victorian era and battling monsters and discrimination in A Shadow Bright and Burning, by Jessica Cluess. Global YA is the doorway to beautiful stories of love, hope, and heartbreak as well as worlds that surpass our own imagination.
Who am I? My name is Athena Freya (I prefer to be called Freya but everyone is stuck with Athena so whatever 🙂 ) and I live in Sweden. Though, I was born and raised in Greece. You’d think that two European countries wouldn’t be so different from each other, but they are. I didn’t fit in one cultural box, like Nova so beautifully articulated it. I had ideals that stemmed from a Swedish/Scandinavian way of thinking that didn’t fit with the society I was living in. Fitting in was impossible for me, and I struggled a lot. Then, books came into my life, and everything seemed brighter. Harry Potter made me think of a world beyond what I was seeing. Divergent made me realize, I want that too. I want to write a book that readers around the globe would enjoy. The Percy Jackson series told me that there are many people out there who love mythologies as much as I do. All these books made me feel less alone, and they gave me a purpose. I wanted to go beyond being an avid reader, obsessed with fantasy, witches, mythologies, etc. I wanted to write that. And I do.
But as a writer, you also have the ethical and creative duty to write books that represent the world. Even if you write fantasy. And the key here is representation. As a Swede, I can’t imagine writing a book without a Swede/Scandinavian character or without a Swedish/Scandinavian cultural element. But that doesn’t mean excluding other cultures. Literature should unite and reflect the world we live in. Why write a book about Norse mythology with all white straight characters? Why even write a book with just Norse mythology? I say: Include everybody. If you think that all Swedes are white, blonde, and with blue eyes, think again, lovely readers. Well, most Swedes do have blue eyes, so scratch that. But you get my point, I hope. The world is so big and so diverse; it’s literally a sin to minimize it and have it shaped after a mole that doesn’t even make sense. The book I’m querying right now, for example, is set in a diverse society of mixed mythologies. Sure, Thor is cool and *coughs* very hot. But why not include Magec, the illustrious Berber goddess of radiance, or Beaivi-nieida, the Sami goddess of healing and medicine? And yes, there are Scandinavian mythologies and folklore outside Norse mythology and the hot Thor, which is why it saddens me every time I see in #mswl that they’re looking for non-Western cultures/settings. We may not be marginalized but we’re not being fully represented, either. There are so many stories and worlds out there. Why not write books that represent all of them?
On a personal level, global YA is more than just reading YA literature. It’s more than just writing it. To me, global YA is more about connecting to people around the world. Hear and feel perspectives different from my own. Relate to others who are troubled by the same problems as I am. Find people to share myself with. If not for Twitter, the YA and writing community, I would never have found my best friend– the one person who understands what I’m feeling and what I’m going through without me saying a word. And if you’re a writer who has, is, or will be querying in the near future, you understand how crucial it is to have such people in your life. People to shoulder the burden of rejections and drag you from the pit of self-doubt. Heck, if not for global YA, I wouldn’t be invited to this lovely discussion!
That’s what global YA has brought me. Pure and powerful friendships that will last a lifetime. Support, laughter, hope, love, and a security blanket that makes this cruel world okay. That makes me feel safe enough to be myself. It doesn’t matter if no one at the university I’m attending is devouring books the way I do. Though, I have already found hardcore Harry Potter fans that I’ve connected to through my Deathly Hallows necklace. haha But all this is a testament to how global literature is. It has no limits. No bounds.
We’re not alone. Global YA is there to pick us up when we fall and lift us up when we need it. And that’s the miracle of literature.
*Wasn’t Athena’s response beautiful? Have anything to say to her? Connect with her. She’s got all kinds of great stuff to say, which is probably why so many people follow her blog! Find her now on twitter or blog here.
More Global YA posts here:
**What does Global YA mean to you?
**Where and what are you reading?
Hejdo, (ps: there should be a circle over that a!)