Dear Book Nerd #30: Genre Troubles

Welcome to the Dear Book Nerd podcast, a bi-weekly show that answers YOUR questions about life, love, and literature! My special guest co-host this week is the wonderful Daniel José Older. Daniel and I answer two listener submitted questions and talk about topics such as how to differentiate between different age “genres,” how to balance talking about different types of diversity in literature, and much more. Don’t miss it!

Daniel is the author of Half-Resurrection Blues (book one of the “Bone Street Rumba” urban fantasy series from Penguin’s Roc Books) and the upcoming YA Shadowshaper, as well as the ghost noir collection, Salsa Nocturna. His short stories and essays have appeared all over the internet, and his band plays regularly in NYC. You can find his thoughts on writing, read dispatches from his decade-long career as an NYC paramedic and hear his music at ghoststar.net, on YouTube, and you can find him on twitter @djolder.

This episode was sponsored by Scribd and First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan.

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QUESTIONS DISCUSSED:

Dear Book Nerd:

Hi!

Let me start by saying I love this podcast! I recently discovered the Book Nerd podcast and I have been binge listening. I’m almost completely caught up. I apologize if you have already answered this question and I just haven’t listened to that episode yet.

There are so many different genres and sub-genres and some of them seem to overlap. This seems particularly true for young adult works. I love browsing libraries and bookstores, but this can get confusing when I’m not familiar with the main characteristics of genres. How do I know which section to visit?! So please, tell me the difference between middle grade, young adult, teen and new adult.

Thanks!

Confused

Dear Book Nerd,

My question is going to be a little dicey, but here we go. I am LOVING the current push for diversity in literature and publishing right now. It really makes me happy to see so many people pushing for us to be exposed to different ideas and backgrounds. I think diversity is an incredible thing, and I think that helps us to grow into better, more empathetic people. But I’ve noticed that the recent push is mostly for racial diversity, with no one really talking about how we also need to grow the diversity of LGBT people in literature as well. As a gay man, the portrayal of other LGBT people often bothers me because it usually relies entirely on stereotypes, and I have a very hard time finding LGBT characters that I identify with.

Obviously, this is a touchy subject to bring up, because I feel like people will think that I am only pushing for LGBT diversity, when really I would like to see ALL diversity increase. So my question is this: how can I bring up the need to increase LGBT diversity in publishing without making it seem like I’m slighting racial diversity, or saying that one is more important than the other?

Thank you so much for making this show, I know this question is, um, tricky, and I hope that this question comes across in the spirit that it was intended.

Patrick

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LINKS DISCUSSED:

The Value of Young Adult Literature (YALSA)

Black Girl Dangerous

Stonewall Book Awards

Over the Rainbow Books

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Dear Book Nerd

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