Q&A with Nic Stone @getnicced #Author of, Dear Martin @randomhousekids @CrownPublishing #NewRelease #YA

I recently reviewed Dear martin on my blog (she here: https://annebonnybookreviews.com/2017/11/16/review-5-dear-martin-by-getnicced-nic-stone-ya-randomhousekids-crownpublishing-newrelease/). I then asked Nic if she would like to be part of a novel Q&A. So here it is!

Firstly, here is the novel

cover
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Synopsis:
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League–but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up–way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

Q&A:

Q) Firstly, can you please tell the readers about yourself and your amazing novel, Dear Martin?

A) Hi there! I’m Nic, current YA novelist, former Jack(Nic?)-of-all-trades, though master-of-none. 🙂 My debut novel, DEAR MARTIN—which debuted on the New York Times bestseller list, can you even believe that!?—follows Justyce McAllister, a seventeen-year-old African American boy who, after a traumatic racial profiling incident, begins a journal of letters written to the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. where he attempts to process his experiences moving through a world that often treats him with disdain based solely on his skin color. In a nutshell, it’s a book about American race relations here in the 21st century.

Q) I read a wealth of diverse literature and what made Dear Martin stand out, was the comparison between the Dr Martin Luther King Jr era and the modern day. What was the inspiration behind the idea of the letters entitled, Dear Martin?

A) This story is a response to seeing people in positions of great influence (i.e. Bill O’Reilly, Mike Huckabee, and former mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed) invoke Dr. King in opposition to exactly the type of nonviolent protest he championed. Every time I heard “Dr. King would be appalled by the #BlackLivesMatter movement,” I wanted to break something, so I used that fury for fuel and wrote this book instead.

Q) Justyce is such a likable, realistic character. As we read the novel we watch him come of age and begin to understand the society he lives in. Was Justyce based on anyone from real life? Or a mixture of people from real life?

A) Definitely a mixture of people, myself included. I really wrote this book for my two young sons who will one day be seen as threats before they’re seen as children. I wanted them to have something that would validate the way I’m sure they’ll feel. But yeah, some of Justyce’s experiences were pulled from my own life. Like the test score conversation in the classroom? That really happened to me.

Q) SJ is another character, whose opinions on race, culture and identity are wise beyond her years! I really admired her grounded and wise points of view. I felt her voice within the novel may inspire other white people to re-think their conscious and unconscious prejudices. Therefore, I think this novel would be perfect for education settings. Would you like to see the novel debated in English classes in the US and the UK?

A) I would love to see this novel used in classrooms to spark conversations! I’ve actually had the privilege of seeing it happen already, and I hope it continues.

Q) SJ covers the topic of white privilege, which I think was possibly, one of the best ways I have heard it broken down. I loved that the topic wasn’t ‘told’ to the reader, but explained with examples. Did the writing of SJ’s character, enable you to write/walk in someone else’s shoes? As Justyce enables the reader too.

A) So funny thing: SJ is really ME/my thinking wrapped in a person white people will actually listen to because they can identify with her. My husband is Jewish and I lived in Israel for a few years, so her Jewishness is a tribute to him as well as the large contingent of Jewish people who were instrumental during the Civil Rights movement. But every word that comes out of her mouth is a word I wish I could say to white people and get away with it, lol. Secret’s out!

Q) The novel largely covers the theme of racism in modern day America. With recent Nazi marches and a president who seems unable to condemn any form of racism, America is truly experiencing some trying times. I must ask will we see a follow-on novel?

A) Mum’s the word (**insert smirking emoji**). What I will say is that I’m glad these things are happening. The ugly things, I mean. For longer than I care to think about, I’ve heard people deny the continued existence of Racism, but now it’s indisputable. First step to overcoming a problem is admitting it exists, so I see all of this as a step in the right direction.

Q) what has been your favourite moment since the novel published? Have you been into any school settings with the novel yet?

A) I had the pleasure and privilege of being on a panel at a conference with a group of 8th graders who did this really cool multi-modal study of the book in their Language Arts class. The project included stuff like a blog and twitter handle and a few Instagram accounts, and it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. The kids put me to shame on the panel… they knew way more about the book than I did, lol!

Q) What have you got planned next in your writing? Are we able to have any snippets of news?

A) All I’m at liberty to say is new book—unrelated to DEAR MARTIN—coming Fall 2018!

*Huge thanks to author Nic Stone for agreeing to be on my blog for a Q&A. I wish you every success with your writing career, of which I am certain, will be exceptionally bright!

ns
Nic Stone
Authors links:
Website: http://www.nicstone.info/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/getnicced

*For my 5* review of Dear martin, see here: https://annebonnybookreviews.com/2017/11/16/review-5-dear-martin-by-getnicced-nic-stone-ya-randomhousekids-crownpublishing-newrelease/ *

#Review 5* Dear Martin by @getnicced Nic Stone #YA @randomhousekids @CrownPublishing #NewRelease

cover
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Synopsis:
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League–but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up–way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack

My Review:

Nic Stone may write fiction, but she certainly tells no lies! This is a powerful debut novel! The author holds nothing back and the novel offers you the opportunity to see life, through the lies of another, and that person is protagonist Justyce Mcallister!

As a white British woman of 34 years old. It is difficult to imagine the daily life and struggles of a 17-year-old African American teen. When you factor in the racial tensions, constantly bubbling in America and the case after case of police brutality. It becomes quite clear that Justyce and I lead very different lives.
But that is the hidden beauty of this novel, it enables the reader to walk in Justyce’s shoes.
Even if it is for just 200 pages.

The novel opens with Justyce and his ex-girlfriend Melo Taylor, as Justyce attempts to prevent her from drink driving. Melo is of mixed race heritage, but due to her mother’s Norwegian pale skin tone, can easily pass as white. When an officer of the law arrives at the scene, he is promptly judge, jury and executer of his own brand of justice.
Justyce finds himself cuffed, manhandled and treated with zero respect and dignity. But it is only when I read his thoughts as the scene unfounded, that I fully understood life from Justyce’s perspective……………….

Be respectful; keep the anger in check; make sure the police can see your hands.

Justyce is eventually cleared of all wrong-doing, but with no apology, the experience has planted a seed of how Justyce’s feel he is perceived in the world. Do people see a thug when they see him? Does his skin colour automatically, make him a likely criminal? Is he expected to be one of the many cases of young black men shot dead unlawfully?

The self-questioning and doubt lead Justyce to begin a diary to Dr Martin Luther King. It is in these letters entitled ‘Dear Martin’ that Justyce pours out his heart and soul!
The letters are incredibly moving and the writing profound. Justyce is an intelligent young man, but he also has an emotional maturity, that we see develop throughout the novel.

“Dear Martin, there are people that don’t see a man with rights when they look at me”

Justyce begins to explore other people’s attitudes and approaches to debates of race/culture. This includes class mates, teachers, best friend Manny and debate partner SJ (Sarah Jane).
SJ is quite an interesting character herself, a young white Jewish girl. Who is wise beyond her years! SJ has opinions on race/identity/privilege, that could put world leaders to shame!

There is a wide mixture of teens from all walks of life, included within the novel. Which is what makes the novel so great! Nic Stone hasn’t just considered one voice; she has written a magnitude of voices to be heard.
At times the novel made for uncomfortable reading. But so it should, racism is uncomfortable for everybody it makes a victim of. This novel could be an extremely useful tool within educational settings. To allow young adults to debate the themes within the novel and maybe learn a little of their own inner hidden prejudices!

“People often learn more from getting an undeserved free pass than they would from being punished”

I don’t want to review the novel too much and risk ruining this thought-provoking novel. At just 200 pages it is an easy read for young adults. I think the topic of BAME youth in education settings is at crisis point and this novel can shine a light on the how/why this situation developed in the first place.

“If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”

I cannot speak on the race issue, from personal experience. But as a mother of two sons and as a fellow human. I am horrified at seeing young men either growing up way too soon, or being the victims of police brutality and even murder!
A compelling read by a very talented writer, who has a bright future ahead of her! 5*

ns
Nic Stone
Author Bio:
Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.
You can find her goofing off and/or fangirling over her husband and sons on most social media platforms as @getnicced.

Authors links:
Website: http://www.nicstone.info/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/getnicced