#7 A.B. Westrick

Friday, July 28th


A.B. Westrick: Author of BROTHERHOOD. We talk about diversity in YA and if writing a character that's outside of your race and gender should be allowed. A.B. also offers her unique perspective on why she choose to not use her full name when publishing.

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

They city about the op podcast and I'm Chris and Larry Stewart host and also post. On the morning show with nine has been on paddy six point nine TO IT exhibit Cisco. Are we talking to AB western today's she's the author of brotherhood and I'm really excited to talk herb has. We are gonna get into diversity a big topic right now in the white community and also how do you deal with it really difficult. Scenes in these young adult books including races. So I'm sitting here with the brotherhood it brightened my pants. Ma and that I cannot wait to talk to you about this because I have so many so many questions but first I have to ask because. Don't author's name on it is eighteen West Street on that your name is and so is there a reason that you go by a beef. Yeah well that's real that came down to mine one Ting Chen and her neutrality iron in the front of the but. OK so where a conference call. They won so I have four children one of my chance and that reluctant. Boy reader. So he would he was just. It was hard to get into your degree heat now all dirty and cut he's gone to college now. And time he it was just really hard to get injured read a book and I knew that he saw a woman nor girls mean. On the cover. Just like one more deterrent for him in terms of Reading it and I knew that. My knee character here with the boy. So I just who just doesn't student gender neutral do math but I'm totally good with you calling me. But we'll get you at. So. I find so interesting because there's a whole study about the general neutral name. And I've seen a study in the professional workplace where. People put gender specific names on their resume and then they have one that's the exact same resonate but it's gender neutral. And sometimes especially if it's a woman who's applying for jobs. They won't get a call but the gender neutral name will call re worried about that at all in publishing. On her. Yeah why thinking about it in terms of publishing I was thinking about it more in terms of mind readership. Com so I knew I want to boy to be trying to this book and I saw a happy. Belief that girl would enjoy reading it too now that may or may not be true. But on. OK when I go back and look at my now at the kid. I would read books if you labeled that it's a boy but you know I would free up that record book. And and actually I didn't take it. Well to what is traditionally called chick lit when her own book or books that are all king. Or order books with girls and lowering rep to act had none of that an. Appealing to me at the person and so on them. Yeah I think I leans forward on guy stopped although. Yeah very poor kid I mean I'm just so ordinary in them anyway but I am. But yeah I have my leaning and now I. Yeah I didn't feel very avenue mall I was writing the ball and so I think yeah you just kind of getting my com and went with the blood in the. EIN I have to say I mean here I AM eighty in my mid thirties speed now married. And I he really enjoyed the Bok. And it it didn't and male centric I mean these are male characters and it predominately kind of mail's story except of course for Rachel her mom right. Right but I mean it is follows kind of the coming of age story. For now I Colin shad. Is is that would you Colin ticket they know his he has a longer name but that's his nickname. Yeah yeah correct okay catch that senate and it can't our shadow track. Which was my great grandfather is now. That's cool I'm curious because diversity is such an issue right now especially in young adult fiction. And I picked up this book and I went this is really interesting and occasionally to talk to her about this. Do you feel like you had any hindrance to her writing. Loan no I did not feel any hindrance to bat and I would say that in the top so I actually finished that means they're in 2011. And here at a time in the past 56 years I think this whole issue of bomb. Commuters gender neutrality or where cultural appropriation or gender recreational whenever I think just had gotten eerie. Strong in the cats tigers here's herb wasn't so strong. Back and 22009. To 2011 and out of writing. I'm but I on good thing if I had had personally it's just me I have had trouble writing girl characters. So every time I would sit down to write a girl and developed the scene with a girl. It would fall flat and started realizing that because I was. So is connected I think it's connected with my cell at the girls can even when I was growing I'll. I don't think I really liked being on earth like wind and why did the boys were doing. I was taught Albany. Should. Outlet and girls should be or should do. And I started writing girl characters they would be caught up and what shouldn't girl doing and then next thing you know it's a flat character. So. I found and this is still its drummer on another now and in Canada god boy characters. There is something to meet personally about writing a boy. Where I'm able to. Get real with him in to tee and I can not hold on to him like a steering artistic. Or. So I think I mean I think. No and that's good because you know uncle on Twitter at night kind of follow. That the conversation of diversity that's happening on there and I don't know where I follow on it and and there's there's pros and cons like yes I wouldn't. I personally wouldn't write a Japanese character because I never been to Japan. And none of my close friends they're our Japanese and so for meat I would worry about. Up. You know writing somebody's in a stereotyped. Type of way. But I feel like as writers we have to do our due diligence in terms of research just because you're not Japanese doesn't mean that you can't do that you'd just have to go outside your comfort zone you need to have really dive into the culture you need to learn everything that you can't. You can't just rely on stereotypes. And of course you know we need more diverse authors as well but if we all just wrote our own experiences. I don't know how interesting that would be. Yeah and I didn't I didn't really agree with you and night and I did really everything that you just ahead and research is hugely important. The others heat of the cultural appropriation conversation that I'm starting to understand at eight. I'm a white person on part of the dominant majority white culture. What kind of coming to understand. Is that it's online at the white person. Try writing for example if I try writing African American characters. On. Why answer to ask myself why would I tried to do that rather in the hands say. Encouraging some of my knee or his. To our African American. To start writing Brian Sell enough number to about hoping to just and power. Everybody to write and tell their stories. And appreciate that yeah even though I'm a white person hey I enjoy reading stories written by people. Those cultures are now mind. And yes. I will buy their club they there is a market share from there read their stories and. Well yeah and you just touched on the next thing that's gonna say is we need also publishers to realize that there is a market out there for that type of literature and to not be. Scared of you know going in that direction. Right right exactly exactly because. It all if I would get was at that books that we're about why eight. Women are my god oh forget. It. And eat no yeah exactly I don't mean. So how long have you been writing OK on on on level and in writing online life. Even a one hit and I enjoyed writing it didn't there was a clean. Where I really high school college and after that I completely stop writing because I. I was very critical. A mind writing and I didn't think I had what it took to write really well. And I got older I started happening really love it really enjoy the actual. Too lenient. So and when I was about forty I just started taking little class and the community. On two and I just. I just loved it I just knew I had to keep doing it and and it does point and it's really trying to write fiction. I knew I was about. The ice that's OK I am really really serious about that. And I went back to school and gotten and cafe in right. Well that's fantastic. Yeah and did you find a lot of people that are listening right now. De option to go back to school is is probably not available for them did you find any navy and maybe podcasts or blogs or pull books that you would recommend. Yes. There is high and that stuff out there in and I don't think going back to school is necessarily the right route for everybody. Com yeah I think you just look around there is there's really a lot so I can't certainly that's one way I'm. Writing group in your community is another way so I'm in Richmond Virginia. And we actually have a fabulous writing community here so he cooler. Getting together monthly number three events some of these are free hammer on him. You know. There's such an annual conference that you can get to the that can be Krejci. Amen but there's a lot there and then there are books they're a ton of people out there now. Even back when I was starting to get back into it. Just books that are very helpful and encouraging in terms of writing. I am going for a real big dinner I would just totally recommend it hurt the high hurt by and a mine. Because she she she just frees you up she did you her mission you're right even when your right Arab Walsh. And I needed that permission to to right very badly in order to slow late dollar writing better. I think we all need that permission because. I Ben I moved recently I've I used to live in Sacramento now I live in San Francisco but in Sacramento I went to a writer's group and there's about ten people they are connect heard that's where you'd go to get good critique and to learn and and I was so intimidated and I am so self critical that I actually never went back because I was so self conscious. And you you said earlier that you're self critical so how did you get help for the X. Yeah you know I got to a point and saying I have to get a reduced because. I have her right and I actually started realizing. That. I do live a better person in terms of more calm and more censored. And not snapping at my children. If if I had them rating. Oh I realized that. The very process of writing helps me feel centered and whole. So I was gonna do it I thought they are am and couldn't do it anyway now I have to get comfortable. Schering what people have to say about my work. And I have to view it the athletic. If I need to hear the criticism I need to be willing to change its. In the end I need to be able to see mine manuscript. And if it out we'll sitting next to this any other books on shelves in a library or bookstore. I have to allocate mind writing is back level and I'm gonna need to have to listen to the feedback and get it clear. What do you think that's changed in your writing from may be when your in your forties til now what what. Problems did you have to encounter any hurdles did you have to overcome. OK good what a great question I have had to learn to pick up the case. I had to learn to write in. Teen not too tall come out characters. But to. Feel them and be in the moment with Chan and so now what they now he and tie auction. Really get into the five then than an in a moment. I have had to learn. To really GA in two feeling. I think thumb. Writers instinctively. Go right into the gotten into feelings but I don't work tonight and did this. I would be in my head in the world of ideas. And I had to get out of the ideas and into the fit my physical body. And imagine the physical body in my character and in being that close to the character. I'm in order to make it seem come online did you character analysis before you started. Com. I would say its belly before I started it yet along the way I do I care to renounce the link at one point I was saying. Let irons great tight with this character it works against. Yeah I think even the use stealing your head when you're doing that that's an analysis. Annan I think it was actually more helpful to me. Well okay going waved back to high school had some training in drama. And that was actually very helpful so I've got some times. Get up into stand and walk around in a room where I'm writing. And closed my eyes and imagine. I'm in scientists studying my character then imagine I am physically not character and then I moved it's like come blocking a scene. Or Clinton's message acting and I'm really trying to be inside. That person and not how I felt there. And unemployed at least has some really good insights about what's going on with that car. It's really interesting that you bring that up has ever since I've done this podcast I'm noticing the correlation between a lot of authors who have two from a background. I mean I know it's obviously the creative we enjoy stories I know islands on the performing arts high school and I was a theater major. And he had a bunch of different people did that as well so. Harley's (%expletive) like that. Well and let me add to that I do not have a background in screenwriting. And boy do I appreciated or plain writing. So I can read a little bit about do you feel although I don't I tend to write narrative fiction but. Wow a screenwriter. Or playwright. Had to be so good with that dialogue. And solve much of the story in the interaction happens with the dialogue. And the key thing you just. While you read a replay and you watch the way you need you listen to the late at. Screen. I've seen. Bills simply route to dialogue is a brilliant when it's well done and narrative fiction writer can learn a lot no way a playwright and screenwriter told at all. Absolutely true it and they have a lot of Scripps online series of eliciting great now and and you don't know where to find them does Google it because they have a bunch. Right now maybe not the current things are out in theaters but they have tons and tons free to choose from. Warm warm. What's your writing process like daily. I'm right every day. On. I will tend to take one day off a week like. Like I'll just tell myself take a day off Sunday late Sunday be your day I'll let you know I'm actually forcing myself to take that day often if I did not regret Sunday's op. Raising kids Redding at the same time yeah I think I didn't do so well when the children were younger so com. I would write when they were in school and I'm at home but the point where I had a part time job actually for a hundred years. I had a part time job. Well when that was happening was trying to write a one Clinton went to the family and I said okay. Can you kind of handle it if you do not asking me crawl in the morning another word you get you condemned. You get your own practice you get your thought on the school bus you do your thing I'll see you after school and it dinner. And they can't at this point my youngest was in middle school and I think he rolls his eyes that. Josh at could not like he really think I need you in the morning cotton out. Which of course you want to be needed but okay. Hold. Yeah I thought I stiffed it at that point Rene the kids for around I started getting up at 5 I am. And doing my writing from about five to 9 in the morning then I had a part time job I would showered dressed and ran I'll go to my heart and job. Finish that through the day and then comedy with handling. National. How much did you get done between five and nine how it worked out ice. You know I actually did better when I had that crazy schedule and pressure on me and I didn't and now home when I had. I'm a little more open ended in my timing. You know well what I get done I don't know about word count I would say. Anywhere from 105. Agent today. And then I won't I will throw away a lot. Not a lot not a matinee at the following day and I can go back and read what I wrote the previous day and I start editing and throwing out oh yeah. I wanna get into editing here in just a little bit because I know I'm going through some issues with that right now but brotherhood that's your debut buck cracks. And and Mickey just jumped right into a difficult subject with races. And this health. And everything so how was bad experience in a part of our and our some very tragic part of our nation's history. I you know for me Ki moon from my if my parents grew up in the gym crow back. And they left the house and read me and my sibling in the nor. So I. She asked where it came to prom turned me I needed to go back and green business. When going on with my parents when I mean where growing up and they told me they. They thought things were very wrong in the stock when they were grown up. So then of course there. You know from the book I went in that hit in years before my parents were even born with a right adding. Eighteenth 67. They need bigotry that prejudice everything would still bear and I think. Or need it and how clean and a really good healing process for me tune. Hey it's character that white light through a process that our hint is coming to question. They're racial prejudice that they he had been taught. Un and you know thousands of all it's kind of my father's story. Has an eye candy and I came to understand my dad. He came to question do racial prejudice at around him in the gym cracked out he actually got to a point as saying. I'm not gonna raise my children in that and tired. And he left the so glum yeah host on that family background is a little bit inside his character. Now I don't get too much away because I want people to go out and get brotherhood. But at one thing got to buy you captured really well is the community of that kkk. Because back in that time aim at this was a brother Hud and this is the foundation and does that tell. So if you were a member you got maybe a little extra Brad when he ordered it or are you we you've got hooked up a little bed and did you have to do a lot of Reese. For yeah I did a time every search. I didn't read natter and if you go to Google. You can find on them a count of on members in the Klan from when you act including. According to the history there are sick. Men and Alaskan and then he started the Klan. Shortly after the civil war ended. And one of them wrote a memoir and not you can find it through Google blog. You know it's it's an archive two up it's really cool it's just out there. Com. I did tons of research I found a number of old writing other people who had either been in the plant or had encountered the clean up so. And also back in the 18100 I guess so I found the Klan at the tee was developed in the 1920s. And thirties let's actually very different. From the original claim an a B 1860. So I had to make sure that I was being true to the time. An end. And I did fictionalized some of the themes so. Somebody came from stuff I had read so here's just one tiny little example. In an initiation third at. I've read about them tweeting this. Donkey ears headdress on and guide to. Was initiated into the I'm so yeah so I have that those donkey ears in my initiation seem ershad. You do I'm also glad that it is the dead bird or a real thing. No like I need. It's terroristic I was I was reading it and I was like man like if this is. I mean obviously it's horrible no matter what now suspected ties I would I would be out of there if somebody put something dead down measured. Yeah yeah that is really crusty you know I have a rocker whose one year older than I am an I have to be angry at my brother and it dead bird and need that. K okay so it's to. It's just a crummy and yes. It's still adorable little cranky. And how did it take you to write the entire novel. Our attitude year cross me and when you are done with the first draft how did you go back and added it's to the point where you felt it is ready for submission. Yeah okay it went through a lot and it com okay so I mentioned earlier that I did on back to school and done and and that's Fannie. So poor. I've worked on hard at that books during my time when I was doing in an effect so I did have a play a professor I had them. Faculty mentor who helped advise me where at some aspects of the but and that was fabulous. But we don't often. Com. The other thing I'm John in terms of getting help knowing a manuscript brandy. I go to friends and just you know you just fine. Kindred spirit it's not just anybody out there you take a little while merchants find the people who give you really good feedback. But I got other people reading my bra and and the current manuscript I'm working on now I've had people read it and give me feedback so. Being able to listen to defeat at and T will being willing to make revisions based on that is very Koppel's. How do you know when if you'd get a few Saudi kindred spirits and they've critique your buck and they have a major issue with apart that you Le. How do you separates. The love of what she roads towards maybe the readers not getting it. You know you have to really really wet ash. Now so I'll I'll tell you on on this new novel and working. IE. Had exactly that thing happen where he trusted reader came back to me and now I don't think so this is the problem. And I'm well equipped for a while I didn't really change it I decided it really with god. I turned around and showed it to my agent and my agent said we were nag you got a proper. She closed in you know we are we really are and so I have I have gone back and yeah I've made whole oral or missions now are enormous enormous change. Is that yeah aren't being announced. You have to go back. Yeah it's really it's really higher. OK in the long runner. I'm gonna look at it didn't play hockey right now I'm in the middle of that it's really hard questions I need revision again but. But here in good heart and if I can get through this revision brings up to a new place. When he goes out into the world is going to be included in the world so you have to look at this later. When your each end then no I don't think out. She and he actually protecting you from doing something you're not gonna be proud about the latest. A really fabulous land positively to look at. Yeah yeah you have to look at it that way it's a real tough quarter. Yeah it is and speaking of going out into the world on how many. Agents did you queries. I clearing probably that all sound really to under ten and how many of those asked for the full manuscript. I had. Three or four. Days and yeah okay and they'll ask the idol also contain. I think there's a lot I'm fat book brotherhood. It was really really. I think it was ready I think that manuscript was really ready to go out in the world. I'm the one from working on how it really hasn't been ready I keep changing. You know what if my opening scene well maybe I should open with and that. So it's not really there yet on. Rather good was really ready and so I think the manuscript. Spoke for it now. On so you know often. Often an agent we'll stay like you know send me queried and ten K. And I see it opening agent. What's working now now I got a few rejection. Okay not a few agents that know nothing to do it didn't click with. But three or fours and yes I mean the whole thing and then one. Was this the first until I read the whole thing got back and let me out to act up very competent about her. And then I contacted the other ones are fed typically we're arguing reading that we had. I'm now talking what I'm an ounce and boat that it. Couple other than an hour and a hadn't had a chance to read it acts. Yeah it's gonna be awhile you know that opinion. I'm so let us tonight I went with the one who called and now we're now. You want to be with somebody gets excited about your work right. Did you enjoy the publishing aspect of fewer jobs. On why I'm writing better than a publishing and hit I had a lot a lot a lot and let up I don't do it like my web site I don't do that web site went. All I added I would lie until bond been so I you know I think that helped hold to reach some people and yet. I a lot of people don't use the web site. Yeah yeah that I. Choice that she would not understand even. Better how to our web site and well and ready to go back to nerve redesign. My own web site. But right now I'm in the middle of revisions on inaudible and that's my first priority at the moment I have to get to now. Out of mind out of my lap innocent and is but I'll tell us about what it's going to be about. Yeah so in one discipline is contemporary. It again there are boys who are the main characters. And Nina are at a music camp. In one wondered what has come to camp from theory closed. Judge mental. Himalayan and he is not. Preparing for the deeper team that he encountering in the noticing fifteen you're writing. Yeah I can't even later and there you can now. Yeah. So I'm I'm struggling with that he and UK the boy's father is living and is looming large. Where at in brotherhood the father had died brattle. So you. You could pick right up you know more seriously when your in your forties she went back to school you got an essay. You have your very first book I York and I second mini script what something that you wish. A piece of advice may be that she could've told yourself earlier in your life. All earlier would ban. All heading into it a try another we're still be fearful of of those critiques that you're gonna look at where the creative and fun that you're going to get you have to learn. Just take that you passed to it that the rejection letters because they will it. That's part of the industry. And you get stronger. From getting rejection and then responding to saddle. Yeah. Yeah it really action is against right look at it that way yeah so we get brother and right now. You can get it in wherever books are all so if it's not in your brick and mortar bookstore I'd love independent booksellers. If it's not bear that in order for you. And of course although it online seller should have been it out both in hard on her and protect. AB lets you so much for appearing on the program to. You how much for inviting me and thanks for some really. Great question I really enjoyed having. Elena think my guess eighty west trick for a hearing on the program as she is the author of brotherhood which is in stores now. On the next episode and it talked to Corey Shea do you author of OCD love story and if you're a published author and I'd like to appear on the program I have to do is eighteen now meet. Kristen at eight a nineteen dot com.