Women of Wednesday: Nic Stone on Taking Heat…and Writing Anyway

WOMEN OF WEDNESDAY is a micro-interview series featuring women of color in various industries and walks of life, focused on highlighting their pursuits and making it easy for readers to support their endeavors. If you would like to be featured, please submit your answers to the below five questions here.

Nic Stone, New York Times Bestselling Author

1. Tell us about the work you’re doing and why it’s important.

Hiiiii! Lol, answering this question feels mad self-congratulatory, but my goal with all of my work is to provoke critical thinking about… well, about things people don’t often think very critically about in our ultra-light speed, gotta-have-it-and-do-it-and-say-it-NOW culture. My first novel was about American race relations. The second one is about teen sexuality (which is a biological thing whether we want to admit it or not — also, why do we even balk at this in the first place?). Third examines relative poverty and the psychology of socioeconomics. Fourth and fifth will look at gang culture and the flaws in the criminal justice system, and mental illness in the black community respectively.

In my humble opinion, the world won’t get better until we all begin to examine what and how we think, learn to empathize, and start prioritizing the humanity of other people over being right or maintaining *power*.

**Puts the mic back in the stand and steps off the soapbox**

2. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in pursuing the work that’s important to you?

Honestly: other people’s moral ideals and personal fears. Which is a very new thing. I didn’t face any pushback at all when writing/publishing DEAR MARTIN, but my second book, which takes the same type of *unfiltered* look at teen sexuality and questioning that DEAR MARTIN took at race relations, is taking some heat. And all because we’re wary of talking about sex without qualifiers. But it’s cool. I wrote it anyway. :)

3. What do you need in order to continue your work in the way you envision?

People saying: “Yo, this is REAL.” I think part of the reason it’s taken us so long to see more diversity in kidlit is because marginalized experiences can be so profoundly different than privileged ones: gatekeepers — who are almost always coming from privileged backgrounds — have these weird reactions to them when they see them in books. So to get past that, marginalized writers need supporters who step up and say “Man, this experience in this book is real.”

Also: the books have to sell.

4. Where and how can we support you to make #3 happen?

Buy the books, tell your friends to buy the books, and if you can’t buy the books, get them from the library and read them and talk about them. Loudly.

5. What is your favorite quote?

“We are not put into the world to air our moral prejudices.” It’s from The Picture of Dorian Gray and pretty sums up my whole life philosophy.

Editor’s note: buy DEAR MARTIN here.