The Winged Pen is thrilled to reveal the cover for Oddity, by debut author and pal Sarah Cannon. Read to the end, because there is a giveaway, too!
JA: So Sarah, tell us about Oddity.
SC: I can’t wait for everyone to read Oddity! It’s a Welcome to Night Vale-inspired adventure, so it’s both life-or-death and very tongue-in-cheek. It’s a love letter to geeky fan-children of all ages (and a lot of fun to read aloud!)
JA: The cover is gorgeous. How did it feel when you finally saw it?
SC: I love this cover with the fire of a thousand suns.
I’m so grateful to Katlego Kgabale for her wonderful work, which gives me actual chills. You should definitely follow her on twitter, and keep an eye out for more of her art.
JA: Tell me more about the cover design!
SC: One thing I specifically asked for was to have Ada Roundtree, the main character, featured front and center. Too often, children of color on middle grade fantasy covers are positioned to the left or right of (and behind) a white main character, and over time this communicates a clear message about who gets to have the adventure, and who gets to support the adventure. Oddity‘s cover is one small move toward countering that narrative.
Now for the reveal…
Do you want to see it?
Are you sure?
OK, here it is:
JA: I can tell you’re passionate about this topic (as am I). Can you talk about how this book fits in the ongoing conversation about diversity in children’s literature?
SC: Well, obviously, I’m a white lady, so the first thing I’ll say is that while this is a pluralistically-cast book, I’d stop short of calling it a diverse one.
Around three out of every ten Americans are non-white. Two of ten are disabled. At least one in twenty identifies as LGBTQIA+. Obviously, these groups overlap, but as a general rule of thumb, if more than half of my characters are white, non-disabled, and cisgender/straight, I’m not representing the demographics of my community. Full stop.
As someone who has worked with children since I was old enough to work at all, it’s important to me write for all readers, and to provide a book in which every student I’ve taught can find a reflection of self. I’ve worked hard to get as many sets of eyes on this book as possible, through betas and sensitivity readers. I’ve done my very best to provide quality representation, and I welcome feedback from readers on areas where I could improve. But Oddity doesn’t belong on lists of diverse books, books by marginalized writers do— and let’s be honest— the publication of Oddity does nothing to put more books by diverse authors on the shelves.
JA: Which leads into this giveaway…
Exactly! As an author and a reader, I actively support #ownvoices writers in a variety of ways, and so I wanted to do a cover reveal that furthers that goal. One of the reasons that children’s books lack diverse representation is because the staff at many publishing houses doesn’t reflect America’s diversity. One organization that has tackled this problem is We Need Diverse Books. Through their Internship Grant program, they make it possible for diverse applicants to accept publishing internships, which are often unpaid and favor candidates who are financially privileged. That’s where I’m focusing my energy today.
JA: Thanks for sharing your story, Sarah. And now for the fun part: FREE BOOKS!!!!!
In support of WNDB’s program, Sarah’s giving away copies of five middle-grade books by #ownvoices authors to readers who make a donation to We Need Diverse Books: The Jumbies, by Tracey Baptiste (sequel out in September 2017!), The Gauntlet, by Karuna Riazi, Cilla-Lee Jenkins, Future Author Extraordinaire, by Susan Tan, Flying Lessons and Other Stories (a short story collection edited by the inimitable Ellen Oh), and last but not least, she has a signed copy of Ghost by Jason Reynolds! Enter to win by posting in the comments below, then emailing proof of your WNDB donation to hellosarahcannon @ gmail.com. Entries will remain open through May 23rd. Good luck!
Sarah Cannon, author of Oddity, has lived all over the U.S., but right now she calls Indiana home. She has a husband, three kids and a misguided dog. Sarah holds a B.S. in Education. She’s a nerdy knitting gardener who drinks a lot of coffee, and eats a lot of raspberries. She is probably human.