Joyce V. Hansen On Writing Successfully For The African-American Children’s and Teen Market

Joyce Hansen

Name: Joyce V. Hansen

Hometown: New York

Based In: New York

Favorite Read: My favorite recent read is The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. This book is a masterpiece. She recounts the history of the great migration of African Americans out of the South searching for a better life in the northern and western states. Her book is nonfiction, but reads like a novel. I also recently read The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat and I was so moved by the skillful and poetic way she told her story.

Author Crush: My author crush is Langston Hughes. I wrote a lot of awful poetry when I was in high school, trying to imitate him. Reading his work though, helped me to find my own writer’s voice and influenced me as I tried to tell an African American story.

Ideal Writing Space: I have a tiny sunroom that I enjoy writing in.

First Book-Related Memory: When I think back on my childhood the first book-related memory is my mother reading to me.

Up Next: I hope another book or two.

What did you enjoy reading as a young adult?

When I was a young adult (1960’s), I don’t think there was a young adult market. You went from reading children’s books to adult books. I remember though reading Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk and I think this was a book that came close to being what we consider now a young adult novel. I also read a lot of Daphne Du Maurier and Charles Dickens. But I longed for books about my own people and by the 1960’s the Black Arts movement was beginning to explode and I read everything I could find about African and African American history. I also read James Baldwin and other fiction and nonfiction by African American writers.


A lot has changed in the industry since your first book was published.

Because of the changes in the publishing Continue reading

Neesha Meminger On Writing Authentic Teen Voices + Overcoming Second Novel Jitters

neesha meminger-author photoName: Neesha Meminger

Online: Author’s Website, Twitter, Facebook Amazon Page

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Based In: Bronx, NY

Education: BA, Film/Video; MFA, Creative Writing

Briefly: Neesha Meminger is the author of Shine, Coconut Moon made the Smithsonian’s Notable Books for Children list; also named the Top 100 Books of 2009 by the New York Public Library’s Stuff for the Teen Age. Other nominations included a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association and the online CYBILS award. Jazz in Love was picked as a top YA selection by the Pennsylvania School Librarians’ Association, Bookslut’s Recommended Summer Reading List. Other books: In the Wise.

Favorite Read: I love a lot of non-fiction, especially books about spirituality and self-growth. But if I had to pick some all-time faves, I’d say Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed would be up there near the top, as would Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series and Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. I also love Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and the works of Jeanette Winterson, Sandra Cisneros, Alison Bechdel…just to name a few.

Pet Peeves: I don’t really have many of these…

If You Weren’t a Writer You’d Be…A teacher, which I am, or a lawyer – which I am certainly not— lucky for anyone who needs a good lawyer.

Author Crush: it’s a close call between Marion Zimmer Bradley and Octavia Butler.

Fiction or General Publishing How-To Book You’d Recommend: I loved Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Stephen King’s On Writing is a great read, too, as well as Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

Up Next: I’m working on my fourth romance novel (under a pseudonym) and I’ve got plans for a non-fiction, self-help, YA book.

What is your first book-related memory?

I loved “Tikki Tikki Tembo”, the Chinese folk tale. I was just learning to speak English when I first heard it read aloud in school, and the words in that book just delighted me. I had the same experience the first time I heard the Rumplestiltskin story. Something about names, maybe…

You started writing as a teenager. Do you ever look back at those writings?

I would love to, if they Continue reading