Monday, December 17, 2012

Guest Post: Why My Main Character Has Lesbian Parents by Elizabeth Barone

Today we have an interesting guest post by Elizabeth Barone, author of Sade on the Wall, talking about diversity in YA books and why she chose to write her characters the way she did. Check out the synopsis of Sade on the Wall:

When fifteen-year-old Sade discovers that her best friend Jackie is doing hard drugs, she may have to trade her own innocence in order to keep her friend’s secret. After trying to ignore Jackie’s behavior at a neighborhood Halloween party and increased absences from school, Sade starts covering for Jackie in the hopes that her best friend will just get back to normal.Jackie doesn’t want to get back to normal, though, and Sade soon finds herself caught in lie after lie. She finally confronts Jackie, who promises to stop, but as things spin more and more out of control, Sade realizes there’s only one thing she can do to save her friend.

Sade on the Wall was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award quarterfinalist.

Why My Main Character Has Lesbian Parents by Elizabeth Barone:

I was cursed—I mean, born—with crazy, curly hair, and could never find a book about a character with curls while growing up. It didn’t consume me, and it didn’t ruin my life, but it was a little annoying to constantly see perfect, clear-skinned models with smooth hair on the covers of the books I was supposed to be interested in. (Instead, I turned to Stephen King novels because those covers were creepy, and didn’t try to lie to you about hair and skin.)

When I sat down to write Sade on the Wall, I knew my main character was going to be a teenager, and I didn’t want to subject more teens to yet another book featuring a white cheerleader with a perfect blowout. (Not that there’s anything wrong with being white; I am, after all, a mostly Italian mutt, and love my heritage [especially my grandmother's lasagna and spignata recipes].) I wanted my lead to be different, and to be okay with her differences—at least, as much as any teenager can be okay. Plus, I’d fallen in love with my friend’s sister’s name, and so Sade—pronounced SHA-day—was born.

It was amazing how easy it was to write from Sade’s head. Our similarities ended at crazy, curly hair, but despite the fact that she’s black, doesn’t know her father, and has two married moms, I found her words flowing straight through me as though a dear friend were telling me the story, and all I had to do was write it down. Obviously, writing Sade on the Wall wasn’t always that easy. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to realistically describe being raised by two gay women since my parents are a straight, married man and woman, and I’ve always known my father.

I felt that I needed to tell that part of Sade’s story, though, because nowadays no two family units are the same. I know very few families comprised of mother, father, and child(ren), and drew on them for inspiration.

The hardest decision I had to make regarding Sade’s mothers was what she and Corey should call them. In early drafts, some readers and editors commented that it was hard to distinguish the names “Mommy” and “Mama” from each other. I didn’t have any trouble figuring out their parental roles; that sort of just happened naturally as the story unfolded. I struggled with their names, though, and kept going back and forth between different options. Finally, I asked myself what I would call my mother if I had two of her.

I worried about how the book would be received, considering it was different in so many ways: no vampires, a black narrator, and lesbian parents. I feel that I did Sade justice, though, and even though some of the themes are controversial, I think they enhance the story and will hopefully show readers that they aren’t alone.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Barone writes the weekly drama for busy women, Sandpaper Fidelity. When she's not writing, she is addicted to The Sims 3, George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, and The Walking Dead comics.

Elizabeth lives in Connecticut. Sade on the Wall is her first novel. Visit her website at http://elizabethbarone.net.

For more about Sade on the Wall check out these sites!


3 comments:

  1. It's really inspirational for you to be incorporating a topic as controversial as this one in your writing. I'm really glad that there are people willing to break free from the limits that society puts on us about these kinds of topics.

    -Angie @YA Novelties

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we definitely need more books with current issues like these. I was always attracted to books that explored the taboo as a kid, but there never seemed to be enough. I don't know if YA is my genre, per se, but I hope to accomplish the same thing with all my stories.

      Thanks for stopping by! (:

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