Meet the team!

The DiversifYA team currently consists of MariekeSarah and Lucinda, with former co-moderator Alex as honorary team member

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Marieke NijkampMarieke: “Growing up, amidst the thousands of books I read, there were scarcely few characters with whom I identified. They weren’t me–and I didn’t belong in their stories. And frankly, there is nothing more gut-wrenching than knowing all the stories you read, all the stories you love, are about others. Or in fact, to those stories you are the Other: different, not according to the norm, an issue–or in fact, don’t exist at all. The world reflected in stories is homogeneous, unlike the world we live in. It’s time to diversify that literary landscape.

Which is why I created DiversifYA. DiversifYA is meant as an inclusive community where people share experiences, in the hope that all of us who write will realize the world is much bigger than our little patch of earth. That we are diversity, and that one day stories will no longer be for us or them, cut-off from “others”. That one day, stories will simply be ours, all of us.”*

Marieke is the author of THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS (Sourcebooks Fire, 2016). She can be found on Twitter and via her website. She is VP of We Need Diverse Books™, but all her views stated are her own and do not necessarily reflect WNDB or DivYA. She’s represented by Jen Udden of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

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SarahSarah: “I write diverse contemporary YA; I’ve always traveled, and I love people and places and cultures. I love how different everything and everyone is, whilst being intrinsically the same. And because I’m an enthusiastic geek, I want to share the things I love with everyone else.

Diversity in YA is so important. So much discovery, experimentation and opinion-shaping happens in our teenage years. And the world we live in isn’t exclusively full of affluent, white, heteronormative, able-bodied protestants. So whether it’s to ensure every young person sees themselves reflected in stories, or to allow people the space and tools to explore difference, we need to see that diversity in our literature, as in everything else.”

Sarah can be found on Twitter. She’s represented by Gill McLay of the Bath Literary Agency. Her debut, THE LAST LEAVES FALLING, releases from Random House UK and Simon and Schuster US in Spring 2015.

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10250279_10100399297628387_3223991460747413443_nLucinda: “Like so many of you, I’ve always lived my life through stories. Stories shaped the way I saw myself and the world, they taught me to be brave and strong even when I felt anything but, and they armed me with an array of seemingly infinite possibilities.

Only, the possibilities weren’t as infinite as I’d thought. And the more I explored the world, the more I discovered how different my own narrative was from the narratives books had prepared me for. How I’d never read a novel which actually featured someone like me. And how I’d been shrinking myself for years, cutting away pieces of my identity to try and fit the mould I was given.

But of course, diversity in YA is important on a level far beyond my own experiences. For every queer teenager who can’t find the narrative to fit her own experiences, there are a million other stories that barely even get mentioned, stories about race and ethnicity and disability and gender that are happening to readers right now. And those narratives matter – they matter so much – and they deserve to be told. They need to be told. At the end of the day, stories are the mirror we use to see the world. And every reader should be able to pick up a book and see themselves looking back from the pages.”

Lucinda can be found on Twitter, but more commonly on Tumblr. In between, she spends her time as a librarian-in-training by day and a would-be writer by night.

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*an earlier version of this first appeared here.

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