As part of this week’s MBS Book Fair, authors Lisa Moore Ramée and Janae Marks spoke to Middle School English classes on Thursday, February 25.
Both authors spoke to the students about the craft of writing, the themes in their books, and their journey as writers.
Lisa Moore Ramée‘s debut novel, A Good Kind of Trouble—about a girl navigating middle school, friendship, and race—was roughly 20 years in the making and was published in 2019. Her second book, Something to Say, was published last year.
While discussing her path as a writer, she talked about the very first book that she wrote and illustrated in 2nd Grade which featured her ideal of beauty — a blonde haired, blue-eyed princess. “Representation matters,” she said. “The books that I read as a child had elves and lions and dragons, and mermaids, but not a Black kid anywhere. The first book that I saw with a Black girl on the cover was The Skin I’m In, and I was well out of high school.”
She also addressed the importance of activism in her books and the power that young people can have when they speak out about an issue. “I want to leave you with a challenge — to have the courage to speak up when you encounter something that you know isn’t right,” she told the students.
Janae Marks is the author of the critically acclaimed middle grade novel From the Desk of Zoe Washington and the forthcoming novel A Soft Place to Land. In her presentation, she spoke about the inspiration and research behind From the Desk of Zoe Washington, which tells the story of a 12 year-old girl who receives a letter from her imprisoned father whom she’s never met and begins an odyssey to figure out whether he’s wrongly convicted.
She discussed balancing the heavier and lighter themes of the book, how she approached the story “ingredients,” the process of getting published, and the importance of the revision process.