In this episode of Touré Show, Touré who is a well-known music journalist, writer and cultural critic, hosts one of America’s notable African American authors of children/teenagers books, Angie Thomas. Widely known for her amazing work in authoring The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas is also credited for the novels:
On The Come Up and most the most recently released, Concrete Rose. This author has a unique talent of telling stories to young people about the world in which they live through the characters she creates in her books, who reflect the age, demographic and environment of her target audience.
Touré engages Angie Thomas in a 60-minute podcast show on what it takes to be a great writer for teenagers in an era of great competition for their attention from social media and what it takes to create a story that is captivating and moving for this target audience.
The pair also delves into the real issues that Angie brings up in her novels and her reaction to having her work, “The Hate U Give” appearing on the Top Ten Banned Books in America.
For Angie Thomas the best part about writing is, in her own words,” getting to the end and realizing that I’ve told a story.” She tells Touré that her endeavor is to write stories that captivate and grip young readers while they read, so that in so doing, she can tell them about themselves and about the things they see and hear in their environment through characters that look like them.
She says that her mission is creating mirrors for black kids to see themselves truly and beautifully. In her books, such as The Hate U Give, On the Come Up and even in Concrete Rose, Thomas talks about real issues that happen in the wider society and which teenagers struggle to navigate. Basing her stories on the black community in America, she tackles issues such as racism and race relations in America, Black Lives Matter protests and movements, gun violence, artistic expression, teenage parenthood and even teenage sex.
Angie unreservedly admits that among the issues mentioned, are topics that adults avoid discussing with their teenage children, more in an attempt to sweep these issues under the rug than to deny their existence in the lives and environment of their young adults. As a gifted writer, Angie Thomas uses her writing as a form of “activism” as Touré suggests because it serves to shed light on real issues in society and to communicate them to children in a palatable manner.
When asked about her reaction to the banning of her book, The Hate U Give, rather than holding back or being discouraged, this move emboldened her in communicating her message spot on in the next book she wrote, On The Come Up, whose story line is very much inspired by the act of the state banning artistic expression.
The worst part about writing for Angie, as she tells Touré is “the actual sitting down to write.” She admits that she has an easier time coming up with ideas and characters in her mind but putting words to paper can be agonizing and teeth grinding especially when faced with writer’s block. Part of the reason for this struggle in writing for Thomas, is the fact that she creates her characters with such precision, particularity and detail that finding the right word they would say becomes tasking.
Another thing she does not enjoy is the pressure that comes with being a published author. She mutually agrees with Touré, that as writers, both of them have found the practice of shutting out the world and forgetting that their written work will be read by people really helpful in emboldening them to say what they mean and to say it as it is.
Touré asks Angie how she manages to create books that resonate so well with the minds, experience and level of consciousness of children. Here, she reveals that it requires her to read lots of Young Adult(YA) books, talking to young teenagers, and in the case of creating characters of the opposite sex, it involves rigorous research and requires that due diligence be done. She believes and advises authors that, ” if you’re going to write about somebody other than yourself, respect them enough to talk to them…,”
Angie Thomas is a talented author with her art perfectly cut out for her as she puts her best foot forward in creating written pieces that resonate with the youth. She is cognizant of the fact that young people “want a good story to keep them engaged,” rather than what she calls ” an after school special.
” She wants to write a story that will, in her own words, ” pull them in, interest them with twist and turns and introduce them to characters with a strong voice.” To give kids an escape from the little world they are living in and at the same time educate them about life. In order to do this, she goes the to the lengths and breaths of doing research. Her explicit description of how she was able to perfectly create the character of “Maverick” in Concrete Rose is why this podcast is definitely worth a listen and why we can’t wait to purchase and read her newest release.
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