The Background – by Chitra Soundar
It all started with this tweet. I’ve been part of tweeting and RT-ing names of writers and illustrators of colour ever since I’ve been active on Twitter. Every day someone asks and everyday we all tweet and tag and the transient nature of Twitter has been its failure to generate anything more permanent for our audiences.
You might know me as a talkative storyteller or an author running workshops or giving lectures. But I’m a writer first and a shy one at that. I’m a pretend extrovert and all the joys of organising from the grassroot seemed overwhelming for someone who lives inside the pages of her notebook.
But the urge to do something has overcome my fear of starting something new that would drive me away from my writing. So here we are.
Why do we need this resource?
I tried to share some web pages that Matt Imrie created as the first list. Then we were delighted when Breaking New Ground came along and partnered with Booktrust Represents. I also talked to couple of people in the US working on something similar and the size of the job intimidated me.
However as an author myself, I find that many readers and booksellers don’t know us, not many teachers read our books in classrooms, not many parents (even families of colour) don’t know about our books.
What is this resource aiming to be?
This resource will be a showcase of British kidlit authors and illustrators of colour to the wider world. However it will never be exhaustive or comprehensive.
It is up to creators to upload their details onto the website. We may invite people who we would love to see on the website to upload their details. However, if you prefer not to be here for whatever reason, that’s your right and we respect it.
We will aim to showcase books, lists, resources, topic finders and stuff as we go along (as I figure out how to get help, get funding, get more volunteers).
We will aim to connect with publishers and agents to ask their authors and illustrators to register.
We will connect this with Megaphone Write which is the amazing organisation Leila Rasheed has been running to provide resources for writers of colour – workshops, support, a chance to talk to experienced writers of colour etc.
This resource doesn’t intend to be an academic document, fully researched and linked to ISBN and all that.
We will have a data protection policy in place. We will never sell or give your information to anyone without your permission.
So What Now?
Here is a quick preview We will be updating this as things evolve.
For British Kidlit Authors and Illustrators or Colour:
- We will be requesting you to fill in a short form that will provide your bio, photo and a few details to showcase you here.
- We will also ask if you want to volunteer with us for any new things we want to do – from website design to social media, there will be an opportunity for people with more time and less of it.
- We will solicit your suggestions on what you want to see here. We want this to be creator-led from the inside. So your ideas and your expertise are welcome.
- We hope you will share this resource with your schools, libraries, communities and universities.
- We hope folks in publishing will look up this list for new commissionings, festivals and such.
- We want publishers and publicists to encourage their authors and illustrators to be showcased here.
- If you want to fund any of our efforts, please do get in touch.
What are the Timelines?
All I can say is soon. We’ve gone from a tweet to a project in less than 24 hours. So we don’t want to rush in and fall flat. But it won’t be so late that all my readers go to university by the time I finish this.
Watch this space for updates.
How do you keep in touch?
There are two options:
- Follow Megaphone Write on Twitter – we will announce there.
- Fill this google form if you want to be showcased here or want to be an ally. We will send out an email when we are ready with actions for either of those groups.
- You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have comments or suggestions.
Both Leila @ Megaphone and I have been overwhelmed by the support from the kidlit folks, teachers, librarians, academics, booksellers and more. Thank you!
I live here on Twitter.
Here is an update (25 Jul 2020) ! Read this thread to find out where we are now.