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
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
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) 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!
*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/ *