Welcome to Kicking Back with Kick-butt!
We’re chatting with Bethany C. Morrow, the editor (and a contributing author) of
TAKE THE MIC: FICTIONAL STORIES OF EVERYDAY RESISTANCE
A young adult anthology featuring fictional stories of everyday resistance.
You might be the kind of person who stands up to online trolls.
Or who marches to protest injustice.
Perhaps you are #DisabledAndCute and dancing around your living room, alive and proud.
Or perhaps you are the trans mentor that you wish you had when you were younger.
Maybe you call out false allies, or stand up to loved ones.
Maybe you speak your truth and drop the mic, or maybe you take it with you when you leave.
This anthology features fictional stories–in poems, prose, and art–that reflect a slice of the varied and limitless ways that readers like you resist every day. TAKE THE MIC’s powerful collection of stories features work by literary luminaries and emerging talent alike, including Newbery-winner Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestseller Samira Ahmed, anthologist and contributor Bethany C. Morrow, Darcie Little Badger, Keah Brown, Laura Silverman, L.D. Lewis, Sofia Quintero, Ray Stoeve, Yamile Mendez, and Connie Sun, with cover and interior art by Richie Pope.
Let’s talk to this fantastic editor and author about this incredible book!
This is Bethany. Everyone say, “Hi, Bethany!”
Welcome to Kick-Butt Kidlit, Bethany! Tell us about yourself!
I’m an author of adult and young adult fiction, ranging from speculative literary to contemporary fantasy to science fiction, always representing Black women as the central figures of our own stories, in any genre. I’ve been an anthologist/editor, as well, and sometimes write essays. I’ve just tried my hand at interviewing fellow authors, and enjoyed every minute!
Interviewing authors IS pretty fun! 😀
You are the editor of TAKE THE MIC: FICTIONAL STORIES OF EVERYDAY RESISTANCE. Where did the idea behind this anthology come from?
The rockstar known as Beth Phelan originally approached me about writing a pitch for a short story on resistance, in December 2016, I believe. I ended up talking to her at length, and expressed my passion for an anthology that would honor the everyday resistances being waged and survived by young marginalized people, not just the organized efforts involving protests, etc. Eventually, I not only wrote the short story, but was asked to come onboard as editor, as well.
How did you bring authors together for this project? What made them a good fit?
I went to authors from historically – and presently – underrepresented backgrounds/identities, and asked them to speak to the reality of everyday life they know well. Sometimes someone would be telling a story about something just incredulous that happened to them, and I’d slide into their DMs and ask if they’d be willing to write it into a short story or poem. I was honored to have Jason Reynolds and Samira Ahmed involved, but I was really passionate about being a platform for people who weren’t as widely known yet, and need to be!
I think that’s so great that you focused on lifting up newer voices as well.
What were three interesting things you discovered while working on TAKE THE MIC?
The first is how gracious (!!) these authors were when it came to feedback and just vulnerability. I am still in awe of all of them.
The second thing was how bad my memory is. Almost every group email, I had to check the cover art to make sure I’d gotten everyone’s contact info on the email.
And the third isn’t really something new, just something that continues to disappoint and demonstrate how the power majority needs to really consider whether they’re ready to do the work. When a group of own voice narratives paint a similar picture of the oppressive and offensive nature of whiteness, that conglomerate power institution, it is disgusting to have that continuity disparaged or disbelieved. In the end, it doesn’t matter. The point of this anthology is that we do not require validation; we are free to speak the truth regardless.
Any tips for people who are interested in tackling short stories?
Short stories, for me, start with understanding that it’s about more than a word count. That goes for novellas, and the like, as well. It isn’t just short. There should be an arc and a completion to it, a fullness, even when the end isn’t final.
Why were you drawn to writing young adult fiction?
I don’t really have a “why.” I don’t think it requires some particular stimuli or inspiration necessarily. It’s a very broad and satisfying category to write in, and I care very much about the audience.
Are you able to give us a hint about your next book project?
By the time you read this, you’ll have had an opportunity to see the cover reveal for my June 2020 release, A SONG BELOW WATER, as well as read a chapter excerpt!
It’s a gorgeous cover and the excerpt was fantastic. Can’t wait to read the whole book when it’s out!
What has been the most surprising part of your publishing journey?
I really couldn’t put my finger on one.
What are you reading right now?
I’ve started and very much want to get back to: WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH and WARGIRLS.
What’s your favourite piece of kick-butt advice?
You’re not well-read if you only read white authors.
Thank you so much for joining us, Bethany!
Kick-butt Kidlit friends, check out TAKE THE MIC – it’s on shelves now!
Add TAKE THE MIC on Goodreads!
Click here to enter to win a copy of TAKE THE MIC!
Contest closes Wednesday, November 27th at 11:59 pm EST
Thanks for reading!