Jun 17, 2016

A Chat with Dahlia Adler || Pride Month 2016

Hey everyone! :) 

Can you believe that half of June has flown by already? It's amazing!!! It also means that we have ended our first half of Pride Month! I hope you all have checked out the Pride Month posts Shelly and I have featured so far! Don't forget to check out my recent interview with Adam Silvera and Wesaun's guest post over at Shelly's blog!

For today's post, I have Dahlia Adler over! Dahlia is not only a wonderful author, she's also an amazing human being! She's one of my favourite diversity advocates on twitter, and her enthusiasm for diverse books is astounding! 

I am so happy to be able to interview her today on the blog! Let's take a look at her view on books, diversity and all kinds of random stuff! :)

Mish : Tell me 5 random facts about yourself!

Dahlia :

  •  I love TV but I almost never watch movies. Movies I have not seen include Titanic, Twilight, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Finding Nemo, Independence Day, Lord of the Rings, and I could go one for a while...
  •  My favorite trivia category is Geography. I'm probably fuzzy on a few, but can mostly name you every world capital.
  •  I have Hitchhikers' thumbs - they naturally bend back at a 90-degree angle.
  •  I can't donate blood anymore, so I donate my hair whenever it grows long enough. I've done it five times so far.
  •  I had a dual-curriculum (Hebrew-English) in school for twelve years, followed by a year of seminary, so I generally know my bible stuff. Which I then use as inspiration from some really weird YA stories I love. 

Mish : What does diversity in books mean to you? Why do you think there should be more diversity in books?

Dahlia : Diversity in books means being inclusive of a heterogeneous worldview, or, in other words, reflecting real life and all the ways people don't live, love, look, move, think, see, and hear alike. Lacking it is erasure, it's sending a message that certain people aren't valid, aren't worthy of stories, don't get to take up their rightful space in this world too. And there's already enough hate in this world because of how many people believe that. What a terrible thing to have the power to create new mini-worlds and choose to perpetuate the already-dominant, harmful beliefs instead.

Mish : Can you share with us your top 5 LGBTQIA reads?

Dahlia : God, this changes every five seconds, based on what I'm obsessed with right at that moment. For right now, I'm gonna go with More HappyThan Not by Adam Silvera, Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown, Trust Me, I'm Trouble by Mary Elizabeth Summer, Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassel, and How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by JC Lillis.

Mish : I am kinda astounded by all the cool jobs you have + things you do! Can you tell us a bit about your alter ego apart from writing?

Dahlia : Oh man, I am so not cool. My day job is an Associate Editor of Mathematics at an academic publishing house, and I don't even know what to tell you about that, except that I travel to math conferences twice a year and that's usually when I do my most ridiculous tweeting. I also blog for the B&N Teen Blog, which I absolutely love, especially because they have such a strong commitment to diversity and not in a "Separate but equal" way. Then separately, I started my own site, LGBTQReads.com, dedicated to LGBTQIAP+ books of all categories, which I'm really excited about and have really loved the response to. And...I think that's it now? I used to copy edit, too, but alas, no time for that anymore!

Mish : What's your opinion on popular trends related to diversity such as #DiverseBookBloggers and #Ownvoices?

Dahlia : I am up for anything that gets books with great representation out there, and I think all the new initiatives and identifiers that help with that are excellent. I do think, though, that performative allyship's become a really big thing, because discussions are so public, and we're starting to see a ton of blowback via identity policing that's definitely hurting the community too. It's a hard balance to strike, to want to support the people telling their own stories, but also not force people to tell you they're telling their own stories, because that's not something everyone can safely or comfortably do, and they shouldn't have to - if the story works for what it is, is good and accurate representation for what it is, that's a good book. Period. Anyone can make the choice not to read it if they don't know it's #ownvoices, and that's fine! But that should be an individual choice, and not something imaginary gatekeepers (who I swear always seem to be cishet non-disabled white people) should be foisting.

To me, as a blogger, here's the difference: if I know a book is #ownvoices, and I like it, I comfortably recommend it without waiting for further review. If I don't know if a book is #ownvoices (or I know it isn't), I wait until someone represented in the book reviews it first. That's it.

Mish : What aspect of diversity do you think need to be represented more in YA?

Dahlia : All of it. Whatever you think's been done to death - as soon as you add on one new detail, you'll realize how little there is. Think there's a ton of cis gay boy YA? Add the word "fantasy" to that, and you're wrong again. Think we've now got a ton of f/f YA? Add "where the girls end up together" and you're again. But more than anything, we desperately need more queer, trans, and disabled people of color; more decent physical disability representation, both visible and invisible; more characters who are both queer and trans; more explicit asexual rep all over the romantic spectrum; and more socioeconomic diversity, especially with regard to post-high school choices for characters who can't afford college. And whatever you think we need in Contemporary, we probably need twice as much in SFF.

Mish : What's your favourite part of being a writer?

Dahlia : Getting to live many lives.

Mish : Do you think that YA and NA is getting better in terms of its diverse representation? Or do you think that there's still room for improvement?

Dahlia : YA? A million percent. NA? Not at all. But I don't think NA is much of a thing anymore, says the author who literally just released her third NA. I think a lot of the people who were bringing diversity to it starting labeling their stuff just straight-up Contemporary Romance. And when NA does get more, it's always from the same authors who've been writing it all along.

Mish : What advice would you give to teens who are coming to terms with their sexuality or struggling with the discovery?

Dahlia : Your feelings and labels can legitimately change all the time, and that's real and valid; fluidity is a thing! It is scary to realize you might identify in a way that isn't fully universally accepted yet, but it's also an amazing key to finding your people. There is a wealth of community out there, people you never knew you could identify with so strongly. And the older you get, the more freedom you have to explore, so if your world feels small and suffocating right now? It doesn't stay that way.

Mish : What are you working on right now? Any future projects you're allowed to share?

Dahlia : Right now I'm working on my short story for The RadicalElement, a YA historical anthology edited by Jessica Spotswood that comes out in 2018. I'm really excited about that, because it stars my first Jewish main character. After that, finally returning to my YA works-in-progress I haven't been able to touch in forever; so, so looking forward to that!

Thank you for taking your time to chat with us Dahlia! :)

Don't forget to check out all of Dahlia's amazing books! Especially her f/f NA novel Out on Good Behaviour, which just came out three days ago! 

About Dahlia Adler

I'm an Associate Editor of mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and I do a whole lot of writing at every spare moment in between. I've also been a Production Intern and Editorial Assistant at Simon & Schuster, a Publicity Intern at HarperCollins, and a Fashion Intern at Maxim. (I'm kind of into that whole publishing thing.)
I'm the author of the YA novels Behind the ScenesUnder the Lights, and Just Visiting, and the NA novels Last Will and TestamentRight of First Refusal, and Out on Good Behavior (June 14, 2016). For information on those books and where you can buy them, check out My Books!
I live in New York City with my husband and our overstuffed bookshelves, and you can find me on Twitter at @MissDahlELama and blogging at B&N TeensThe Daily Dahlia, and LGBTQ Reads. Come say hi!

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