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/MG International Author, is the talented and adventurous Singaporean-Indian author, Reena Deen. She’s my fellow PitchWars Alum writing bud, DvPit Winner, and soon to be globe trotter-writer extraordinaire. Phoenix is currently querying her latest book.
Thank you for the wonderful opportunity! I would love to share my thoughts on Global YA 🙂
One of the things I notice when I read books is how the characters talk in the story. Usually, it’s all American slang or it’ll be British. Even POC characters in the stories talk the same way, obviously because the stories are set in USA or UK.
But many of us have our own slang because many of us live in other countries. It’s true that most us are familiar with American and to some extent the British style of talking but we don’t usually talk like this in our own countries. We have become familiar because that’s all we see in movies , hear in music and read in books.
So to cut a long story short, global YA means just that to me – global. Featuring stories set in the countries around the world with their own authentic cast of characters & unique way of expression.
I am Singaporean, it’s a tiny Island city in South East Asia, where Chinese, Indians, Malays & Eurasians have lived peacefully together for more than a hundred years. Since our country has four main races, we developed our own unique language – Singlish. It’s a unique way of talking in English with a mixture of words from the various local languages. When I first started writing, my characters would speak in Singlish. But unfortunately this was not well received, I think many people found it hard to understand.
I found this frustrating because initially as kids we too found it hard to understand the American/British slang in books and movies but we got used to it.
But the tables were turned when I read the book ‘The Hate You Give’. Initially I found it a little hard to understand the slang used by the characters but I stuck with it thanks to the wonderful reviews ( So glad I did !!)
That’s when I realized why other people would find it hard to understand when my characters spoke in Singlish. It wasn’t their fault, they just weren’t used to it. This is all the more reason why we need to have global books, not just YA but in every age category. We grow up on a diet of books, movies and music which largely only features the American/British white culture. This in itself becomes a barrier for books set in other countries to be published. So it’s important to arrest this trend now.
It wouldn’t be so much of an issue, even thirty-forty years ago when people still held on to their own culture, values,language etc. But thanks to globalization ( which is pretty darn good thing, coz if not for it, I wouldn’t even be writing this, lol ), most of the first world countries who are increasingly exposed to American culture embrace it as their own.
The world is not confined to a few countries’ culture but that’s how it is today. Even though there is more diversity in books and to some little extent movies, it’s still based on characters living in countries like USA, UK etc. Simply put, an Indian living in Singapore will not have the same experiences, culture or even language as an Indian in USA, Malaysia or India. This is what global YA would mean for me and why it is important for me. I would really love to read more books on POC living in other countries.
That said, the current publishing industry, writers, agents and editors are doing a lot to boost diversity. Five years ago, I thought that international publishers wouldn’t be keen in reading a story about an Indian Muslim character living in Singapore. But my experiences have proven me pleasantly wrong. I was selected as PitchWars mentee last year in the wonderful Brenda Drake’s PitchWars where I met Nova as well as other amazing writers who have been very supportive of me as a POC writer. Both Beth Phelan’s DVpit and the open call for Muslim writers organized by Cindy Uh of Thompson Literary and Clelia Gore of Martin Literary Management have helped me immensely in my writing journey.
Sometimes I am hesitant to write my stories because of the current Geo-politics. But thanks to all this support, I continue writing. And at the end of the day, this is what global YA or for the matter Global books is all about.
Everyone coming together to read, share and more importantly support the stories of everyone else.
Once again, thank you so much Nova!