2019 January Curiositales Magazine with Ashley and Leslie Saunders and Lamar Giles

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Interview with Ashley and Leslie Saunders of The Rule of One

Recipes from The Rule of One and Spin

Interview with Lamar Giles of Spin





DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER? The importance of book covers. 6








Check out these 6 amazing Bookstagram creators.

Randi Burdette creates whimsical, modern photos inspired by fairytales.

CONTENTS 11 Editor’s Letter

A note from the editor.

13 Contributors 14 16 24 28 30 36

Learn more about this month’s writers, photographers, and crafters. Giving Back Learn more about this month’s charity. Strong Female Characters Ashley and Leslie Saunders of The Rule of One Saunders Sisters | Share Your Shelf The twins share their favorite goodies. Seeking Contributors Like what you’re reading? Join our team! Fiction Food Recipes inspired by The Rule of One and Spin. From Blogger to Author Lamar Giles of Spin.

44 Lamar Giles | Share Your Shelf

Lamar’s tour of bookish items. 48 Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover? by Jun O.

54 Seen and Heard

The lastest in the bookish community.

60 Bookstagram Creators Check out these awesome readers.



84 Modern Fairytales



Photo essay featuring a couple of fairytales... with a modern twist. 96 January New Releases

98 Around the World






Letter From The Editor

2017 was the start of the #metoo movement and 2018 brought the Time’s Up campaign. In 2019, the discussion continues, must continue. While progress is slowly being made, we need to remain active in creating change. A large part of my conversation with Ashley and Leslie Saunders was about women in media and how we don’t just need to be at the table, we also need to speak up. They are doing their part by writing strong female characters in a genre that isn’t well known for smart, capable women. Lamar Giles is a part of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books, and a major part of his author’s journey was overcoming the lack of diversity in publishing. He’s participated in the creation of several anthologies which bring readers multiple diverse stories. I hope these author interviews inspire you to step up in making sure the literary industry grows and changes with the times. Happy Reading, Gillian St. Clair Editor-In-Chief CURIOSITALES

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EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Gillian St. Clair CONTRIBUTORS Kelsey Bjork, Elle Jauffret, Randi Burdette, Jun O.


ONLINE Curiositales is a digital monthly magazine. We also engage readers with a free newsletter. For your regular dose of all things bookish, subscribe at www.curiositales.com

COPYRIGHT Copyright 2019 by Curiositales Magazine. All rights reserved. This magazine or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in review.




Jun. O Essay, Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover?

A Chinese-Indonesian born 21-year-old baker/cake decorator by day and avid reader by night. I love to paint, create bookish pictures for Instagram and write reviews for fun.

Randi Burdette Photo Essay, Modern Fairytales

I am a Montana based photographer who enjoys all things Disney and fantasy. I am always looking for inspiration for my photoshoots. In my spare time I work at a bookstore, organize renaissance fairs, and do community theater.

Elle Jauffret Food Writer Elle Jauffret writes from personal experience about the culinary arts, mysteries, and France.

You can find her at ellejauffret.com or @ElleJauffret on Twitter and Instagram.


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GIVING BACK Every month you read, you're giving back. Curiositales donates 10% of every purchase to a nonprofit. Check out this month's organization.



We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. WNDB is committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality. We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA+, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Our mission is to promote or amplify diversification efforts and increase visibility for diverse books and authors, with a goal of empowering a wide range of readers in the process. In order to accomplish our mission, we reach out to individuals and groups involved in many levels of children’s publishing—including (but not limited to) publishers, authors, distributors, booksellers, librarians, educators, parents, and students.


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We’re always going to have a female lead in anything we write.

“ T

STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS Interview by Gillian St. Clair

he Rule of One has been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale because of its eerie ability to forecast a future America within the realm of possibility. And it’s not pretty. The twin protagonists, Ava and Mira (written by twin authors Ashley and Leslie Saunders), are in trouble just because they were both born two where only one is allowed. While dystopian worlds are becoming more common in fiction, it’s rare that they so closely hit the mark on our current reality. “We send articles to each other and our editor and our producers all the time about things we wrote about that people were saying wouldn’t happen. And it’s happening. We’re constantly talking about it. It’s interesting because now that’s part of the success of the series and being able to adapt it into a televiCURIOSITALES

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sion series- it’s because of the times. Our story is not just this sci-fi future story anymore, there are elements happening right now. It’s a cautionary tale of what could happen if we continue on the path we’re on,” said Ashley Saunders, the younger twin. “We started writing this story 7 years ago as a screenplay. So this political climate… we wrote it when it was Obama era. We got feedback when we were out pitching it that America would never be like that. That we’d written something too far-fetched. So we weren’t selling it, we didn’t sell the book. We sold the book after Trump got elected. We didn’t write to our current climate. It just happened.” “7 years ago, I didn’t know anything about climate change. The research we did for this book opened our eyes to climate change. No one ever talked about it where we’re from. When we first started reading about it, our minds were blown. ‘Red alert, what is happening? And why are we just letting this happen?’ We felt passionate about putting that into the book,” explained Leslie Saunders. Readers have taken note. “It’s been mind-boggling. It’s been crazy, and that’s been a lot of the feedback we’ve gotten. Everyone is saying, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what our future is if we keep going in the direction we’re going,” said Ashley. “Everyone tags you in reviews, and everyone’s posting pictures. It’s a huge community. The book community online is on every platform and it’s huge, it’s in18


The YA Community is such a strong and empowering community. It’s been so fun to interact with everybody and to get feedback.

spiring. It’s a little overwhelming because there are so many people and we’re new to navigating that. There’s this on-the-go trial by fire trying to make sure you don’t disappoint people,” said Leslie. ”For all the cons the internet brings, there’s a lot of positives. There are challenges, too. We’re new authors on the other side of being published and we’re getting instant feedback from readers.” “I wasn’t prepared for that. We’ve been trying to publish this book for years, going through the process of editing and getting the book together. All of a sudden it’s out and so many people have access to contacting us. It’s been fun, we just weren’t expecting it,” Ashley added. “The YA Community is such a strong and empowering community. Being new to it and being a part of it- it’s been so fun to interact with everybody and to get feedback. It’s been such a special time for us.”

A major aspect of The Rule of One is the consequences of climate change, but that isn’t the only passion Ashley and Leslie Saunders brought to the story. “It was also important to us to tell a twin sister story and get the double female power going,” said Leslie. Ashley went on to say, “We’ve always had strong female characters in our lives. Our mom was a strong figurehead in our lives, so we’ve been surrounded by strong females our entire lives. All the books we were reading like Hunger Games… Hermione in Harry Potter. We saw examples of that. We just wrote characters that, without wanting them to be strong female characters, they just were.” “They were interesting characters to us. And then they kind of happened to be strong,” Leslie finished.

As the story went along, we wanted for them to gain their power, for them to learn their strength. We didn’t want them to be like a Katniss already. We wanted them to learn how to be Katniss.” While the current generation has plenty of strong female characters to look up to, that wasn’t always the case. Ashley discussed the issue with the twins favorite novel: “Our favorite book growing up was Lord of the Rings. There’s not a lot of female characters in the books except for Éowyn. In the movies, they’re more reflective of [modern times]… stepping back, then you don’t notice it because the #metoo movement and things like that weren’t happening. So you look up to the male characters. At least that’s what we did. We would read and ‘I’m Aragorn’. That’s how we saw it. And now we see the huge problem of representation of women in literature and film and TV. We aren’t the leads, that’s not our story, we’re the side characters. Now it’s amazing to have a lot more female-driven stories being the lead and not the side character or love interest. We’re always going to have a female lead in anything we write.”

The protagonists of The Rule of One grow into their strength. Leslie explained, “They aren’t perfect. With Ava and Mira that was important for us. They did not start off very strong. They were put into extraordinary circumstances but they were ordinary girls. Ava and Mira were very sheltered- they stayed in Dallas, their father took care of them a lot. And then they were forced to go on the run and they Leslie brought up another unique aspect were out in the middle of nowhere. They of The Rule of One, “Not only do we have didn’t have survival skills.” a female protagonist, but we don’t have a love interest. That was important to us- to “They weren’t warriors,” Ashley added. not have a love interest in the first book.” “They didn’t know how to use a gun. They’d never done that before,” said Leslie. “They don’t know how to use a knife, but they have one and suddenly they have not only themselves to protect, but each other.

“The love story is the twin sister story. It’s all about the sisters. That was really important to us. We always thought when we were pitching it to publishers they would try to change it,” Ashley added. CURIOSITALES

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“We were always very steadfast on that point. We were lucky that our editor saw it the way we did and never even asked to put a love story in,” said Leslie. “Having these dystopian, authoritarian environments and governments that are controlling and survivalist… and then put females into these roles we don’t see in modern society. But that’s changing. You, as a woman, would very much not survive in those worlds and people want to write about these strong females you think would not survive and show how much they can do.

“But really, it’s all new,” clarified Ashley. “Most of the people in our debut author group are women writing about women and all the males feel a little left out. Like, ‘I wrote about a boy and my book’s not as popular. It’s because I wrote about a boy’.

“In our world, Texas is the bad guy. Governor Roth is modeled off the extreme side of conservatism. We wanted the girls to be his adversary because the last thing he thinks can take him down is a girl. It’s something we were definitely aware of when we were writing,” said Ashley.

“We’ve seen it in our film career. I’m just seeing with other people it’s hard for female writers to get in. It’s interesting in the publishing world vs. the tv and film world. In literature, female writers reign supreme. Especially in YA.

“It’s the ultimate underdog in a dystopian environment, Who society thinks would not win, and we show them they can win. I think it’s inspiring for readers and for young girls and young boys to read about characters that can thrive in an environment where all the odds are stacked against you. To survive and to help change the world,” said Leslie. Fiction is seeing more and more women take a leading role in saving their worlds, and these stories are being written by women. “We’re in this debut authors group with authors around the country and a lot write sci-fi and they’re all female,” said Leslie. “So I have a skewed view on it. There’s so much out there that’s female-driven.” 20


The language is flipping and we’re hearing people complain about being a man writing about men and how they’re not having as many opportunities. It’s weird. There’s a lot of pushback from the male gatekeepers afraid their power is now being taken.”

But in the film and tv world, even post the #metoo movement, it’s really hard to get your foot in the door in a writer’s room. Most writer’s rooms for television shows are male-dominated. A lot of straight, white males. Same with feature films. Now it’s slowly changing and we’re hoping to be part of that change,” added Leslie. The online community is another tool changing the industry. “Things like social media- so many writers can join forces and support one another. I feel it’s a great time to be a female writer because we can all help raise each other up and promote each other’s work. When you had to rely on gatekeepers and you got shut down, there was nowhere else to go. Now, there’s social media and

self-publishing. That’s a game changer,” said Ashley. Even though the world in The Rule of One is fictional, it was well researched, and that research included more than reading books and talking to scientists. “We paused about halfway through writing the book so we could experience the locations we were writing about. And that was incredible. We took a 20-day road trip from Dallas to Canada together. That was our introduction to national parks and wild, open spaces in America. We were suburban/urban girls growing up, and then we were out in the middle of nowhere and we kept having experiences that Ava and Mira were having in the book. Black-Eyed Susans are really important in the book. They symbolize the twins’ mother. When we were driving, BlackEyed Susan flowers covered all the roads on the sides of the highway. It felt like a symbol, like, keep going, you’re telling the right stories. It was really amazing. We got chased by a bobcat and we had to protect ourselves. We used those feelings of fear and having only yourselves to survive in the middle of nowhere and then we infused that into our writing. And we learned a lot about being in nature and with each other,” said Ashley. Leslie continued, “And what that feels like. What it can feel like when you’re in these isolated places with just each other. We had a lot of older men come up to us asking if we needed help and if we were

were ok. And we were like ‘yeah, we’re good!’. We knew that’s kind of how Ava and Mira would feel like. We went into so many isolated places… not only did we achieve a 20-day road trip without killing each one another… it made our relationship stronger.

I just felt so strong. I can protect myself, I can protect my sister and my sister can protect me.

We encountered so many wild animals on the trail and we had to figure out how to not get attacked. We ran into a bobcat at Palo Duro which is what inspired the Kipling Ranch. One of the safe places that the sisters go to. It’s the second largest canyon in the United States and it’s a beautiful setting. We were 3 miles in in the middle of nowhere and the next thing we know we hear a bobcat growling at us. We ran, and it followed us and stalked us and was growling at us for miles. I saw this pointy rock, and I was trying to find survival things around me I could CURIOSITALES

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use and my entire thought was ‘how do I protect my sister?’ So I grabbed this rock, and I still have it next to my TV to remind myself how to conquer fear. And I had all this stuff in my head and we achieved it and afterward, we looked at each other and said ‘Wow, that was a crazy feeling to feel like it’s only up to you to survive.’ I just felt so strong. I can protect myself, I can protect my sister and my sister can protect me.

How you can go on a road trip, not only figuring out how to protect yourself but also how to protect someone you love. Which do we care about more? How to protect your loved one. It was empowering to do it. I hope that that comes across in the book.”

And that was like day two on the road trip. We went to even more wild places along the way. We went into even more situations where we had to learn survival skills.

In closing, the sisters had one tidbit they wanted to share with readers. “We wrote different chapters. Mira’s written by one sister and Ava is written by the other sister- by Ashley. I think that’s a fun fact I don’t know that everyone knows. After people have read it they’ve said things like ‘I wish I would have known!’ or ‘that makes total sense!’”

I really infuse that into Mira’s chapters. How to conquer fear and what fear looks like.

You can find The Rule of One on Amazon and pre-order the sequel, The Rule of Many, which comes on May 7th.




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Share Your Shelf with Ashley and Leslie Saunders

The One Ring from The Lord of the Rings We’ve both worn the ring around our necks since we were thirteen. They started out as the rings from a LOTR monopoly game, which we later upgraded to gold ones.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman We got Whitman’s book of poetry at Shakespeare and Company in Paris while we were studying abroad. Little did we know then, but Whitman’s words are now the words of the rebellion in our story.

Gryffindor and Ravenclaw s\Scarves Leslie is Gryffindor, Ashley is Ravenclaw, one of the few major differences between us. We purchased the scarves a few years ago for a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.

“Typewriter” Mug Before we start writing every morning we have to have our Yerba mate tea. Our favorite mug has the image of a typewriter on it. It’s cute and fun and reminds us to keep working!

“Harry Potter” Wand At The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, they do a fun wand pairing show at Ollivanders wand shop. They choose one person to re-enact Harry’s experience finding his wand, magic and all. On our visit, a very enthusiastic Leslie was chosen. She keeps her wand displayed in her room.

The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler Based on the work of Joseph Campbell, this book is a must read for all writers! We use “The Hero’s Journey” for all our stories.



The Rule of One Tote Bags We might be partial, but we have these awesome tote bags with our book cover on them. We wear them all the time... they look very slick and stand out because they are yellow! “Writer” Baseball Cap We have a hat that says “Writer” which we put on whenever we are having writer’s block. It really helps to trap the ideas into our heads!

Vintage Corkboard We have this massive corkboard we inherited from our grandparents. When we are outlining a new story we pin colorful notecards onto the board, mapping out our story’s structure. Voluspa Candles We burned so many of these candles while writing. They smell amazing and last for hours. CURIOSITALES

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Curiositales Magazine is on the lookout for contributors. If you have an idea geared toward the YA readership, send us an email: contribute@curiositales.com. Our readers are creative and talented and we want to feature you. Send us an email to be considered for an upcoming issue. Short Story Criteria: Around 3,000 words Submit a Word Document

Payment $50 within 30 days of publication. 28




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By Elle Jauffret

THE RULE OF ONE […] Tuesday is lemon chicken and broccoli […] “Dreaming about that chocolate cake,” I say lightheartedly, fishing for a laugh.



The Recipes Lemon Chicken Place ½ cup olive oil and 15 garlic cloves (minced) in a pan. Heat and cook over medium-high for about 3 minutes. Take off the heat and add: ½ cup white wine, 3 tbsp lemon zest (from about 4 lemons), juice of 4 lemons, 3 tsp dry oregano, 2 tsp fresh thyme, 1 tsp salt. Mix well and pour in a 9x12 baking dish. Line chicken tenders (2lb) in dish (over the sauce). Cover with thin slices of 2 lemons. Bake in a 400F degree-oven for about 30 minutes (until chicken is done). Broil for about 4 minutes to brown chicken lightly if chicken is not already brown when done.

Broccoli Sautée 20oz fresh broccoli with 2 tsp olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add ¼ cup water, cover with a lid and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add another ¼ cup of water and cover and cook again for 3-4 minutes. Serve with lemon chicken and lemon chicken sauce. Chocolate cake In a large bowl, whisk 3 eggs with 100g sugar (roughly 1/2 cup) until the mixture turns white. Add 60g flour (roughly 1/2 cup), 60g almond flour (roughly 1/2 cup), 1 ½ tsp yeast, 80g melted butter, 150g melted chocolate. Pour in a buttered mold midheight. Bake in a 350F degree oven for 30 minutes (until point of a knife comes out clean when inserted in cake). CURIOSITALES

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SPIN “Best chicken and waffles on the East Coast, I swear.” […] He grinned. “Of course. Who don’t like waffles?” […] There was only a half-full gallon jug of spring water in it, a pack of chicken (close to the expiration date), broccoli, and an orange. […] Kya got her Honey Vanilla Latte. I got a plain black coffee—jerk.



ORANGE CHICKEN AND WAFFLES Waffles Heat 500 ml milk in a small pan on medium low until milk is warm. Place 100g butter (cut in pieces) in it and stir until butter is completed melted. Set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, combine: 250g flour + 1 tsp yeast + 120g sugar + 1 pinch of salt + 3 eggs. When well combined, add milk/butter. Mix well until well combined. Pour proper amount in lightly greased waffle iron. Chicken In a pan, sautée chicken breast (cut in half horizontally so that meat is thinner) in 1 tsp olive oil, on medium heat, until fully cooked and brown on both sides. Set aside. Sauce In a sauce pan, whisk together: 1 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp rice wine + ¼ cup water + 1 tsp olive oil + 4 tbsp sugar + 9 tbsp white vinegar + 3 tbsp orange juice + 1 tbsp fresh orange zest (about 1 orange). Bring to boil, then lower heat to low and whisk for 4 minutes. Use warm.

To assemble: place a waffle on a plate, top with chicken, top with broccoli, and top with desired amount of sauce (3 tbsp). HONEY VANILLA LATTE POT

In a bowl, whisk together 2 eggs + 2 cups milk + 1/2 cup sugar + 1 tsp vanilla + 2½ tsp instant coffee. Pour mixture in individual ramekins (only halfway full). Place ramekins in a deep pan and fill pan with Broccoli water (until water reaches halfway up the Dice and sautée broccoli (1 head+stem) in side of ramekins). Bring water to a simmer on medium-high heat. Turn heat to low 1 tsp olive oil, in the same pan in which you cooked the chicken, for about 3-5 min- and cook covered for 15 minutes. utes. Cover for 2 minutes. Broccoli should Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Top with 1tbsp of honey and serve. still be firm but tender.


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French-born, Californian lawyer by day, writer/home chef by night, Elle Jauffret writes from personal experience about the culinary arts, mysteries, and France. She received the 2016 SDSU Writers’ Conference Choice award and loves creating “fiction food” based on the books she enjoys. You can find her at ellejauffret.com or @ElleJauffret on Twitter and Instagram




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I wasn’t going to sit still and wait for some stranger in New York to decide my fate.

“ When someone genuinely loves their

career, it can make a huge difference in their lives both personally and professionally. The passion they have for what they do shines through in their work and in the way they speak about their job – Lamar Giles is one of those people.


OVER DEFEAT Interview by Gillian St. Clair Written by Kelsey Bjork

Based on his other interviews online, it’s easy to see how much he enjoys speaking about writing and encouraging others to follow their dreams – this interview is no different. Giles grew up in the factory town of Richmond, Virginia where, for a while, he doubted his chances of becoming an author. “I was a horror/fantasy/science-fiction guy and loved Stephen King, but not being able to find authors who looked like me and did the sort of work I wanted to do was frustrating,” Giles said. “That lack of representation made me CURIOSITALES

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think there wasn’t a viable path for me to be in this industry.”

then I’m going to make sure it reaches readers.”

Finally finding authors like himself dramatically changed Giles’ life. “I came across Tananarive Due’s novel, My Soul to Keep, and it had black people in it that I recognized – they lived in the suburbs and drove Honda Accords. Then I discovered Steven Barnes and coincidentally found out that they’re married, which blew my mind,” Giles said. “Finding them was game changing.”

In order to reach potential readers, authors have to get out of their comfort zones. Giles learned this when his novella, Live Again, earned him an invitation from the Go On Girl Book Club to a conference in Washington DC.

“I had never been to a book conference before, and I had to pay out of pocket,” he said. “But I realized that doing things like that are necessary when you want to put Those authors gave Giles hope, but he still your name out there. So, I decided to take faced adversity when trying to sell the that leap to see what would happen.” manuscript for his first book, Fake ID. Even though Giles was hoping that some“The types of rejections I was getting was thing good would come from that confrustrating,” Giles said. “We’d get comference, little did he know that he would ments like, ‘We love this book, but we be one (giant) step closer to reaching his already have someone who does this.’ – dream before it even began. in other words, they already had a black writer.” Not surprisingly, this was infuri- “On the train ride to DC my agent, Jamie, ating. called and said that HarperCollins wanted to buy Fake ID,” Giles reminisced. “I “They weren’t saying they didn’t underhonestly think that part of the reason that stand my story, or that the writing was sale happened is because I stepped out on bad. They were saying, ‘We already have a my own and decided that if publishing black person, so we don’t want to oversat- wouldn’t let me in then I would find my urate ourselves. But good luck with anoth- own way in.” er house!’” Instead of letting those rejections discourage him, Giles used them as motivation to take matters into his own hands. “I wasn’t going to sit still and wait for some stranger in New York to decide my fate,” Giles said passionately. “My mindset was this: if publishers don’t want to take on a book written by a young black male that features young black characters, 38


If publishing wouldn’t let me in then I would find my own way in.

Because breaking into the publishing industry is so difficult, it’s no wonder those who succeed want to help make an easier path for others. That’s why Giles and Ellen Oak, who met because they had the same editor, helped create the non-profit We Need Diverse Books. “That organization is Ellen Oak’s brain child,” he said.

help change publishing.”

“We were sharing our experiences back in 2014 while having lunch, and it turns out that her story is very similar to mine – she never saw herself in books either. That’s when she told me about an idea she had and asked me to get involved. The original plan was to create a hashtag just to see if other people had the same stories.”

This powerful non-profit has made such a positive impact in the publishing industry, and many before have tried to do the same. The reason this organization has been so successful, according to Giles, is in part because of the internet.

The reaction people had spoke volumes. “It exploded online,” Giles said. “We ended up at Book Con 2014, and all of the media outlets became interested in us. That’s when we formed the non-profit and, after a while, we started programs to

Some of the programs they have include giving out awards and grants, providing mentorships, and holding retreats. “We’re trying to make sure that more books from different cultures can be available to children who need them,” he said.

“People have been championing the idea of more diverse literature for decades,” Giles said, “but social media has allowed so many people to say the same thing at the same time to the point that the industry could no longer pretend they hadn’t heard us.”


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It’s crazy to think that so many books might never have reached an audience had publishers not given them a chance – this includes Giles’ upcoming noel, Spin. This novel is about a famous DJ named Paris Secord – aka DJ ParSec. Or, rather, it’s about the mystery behind her death. Heartbroken over her death, Paris’ fandom looks to two of her friends to solve the murder. Unfortunately, those two just so happened to be enemies. With such an interesting plot, readers might be wondering: how did Giles come up with it? He paused for a moment and let out a small laugh before replying. “It came from an article I read about music fandoms. It included ones like Team Drizzy (Drake), Rihanna’s Navy, and Swifties (Taylor Swift). But there was a lengthy bit about the Beyhive, which is Beyonce’s fandom. A line that stuck out to me went something like this: ‘If you don’t like Beyonce’s new single, the Beyhive will annihilate you.’ Since my mind works the way that it does, I started to play with the idea of what a very powerful fandom could do if properly, or improperly, motivated.” The life of an author may not be perfect, but in the end, most find that it’s as close to perfect as anyone could hope for. Part of the reason is because they love writing, of course, but sometimes the things they love the most about their job are things they didn’t even expect.

published, schools started to reach out,” he said. Writing a book that changes readers’ lives is one thing, but getting to talk to them in person is a whole different level of fulfilling. “When they thank me for writing someone who looks like them, it confirms one of the things that I set out to do,” Giles beamed. “Then there’s the kids who don’t relate in that way but are really taken by a mystery that I wrote and are interested in what the characters are doing after the book ends, and that’s amazing, too. It’s that kind of stuff that makes me feel like I’m doing good work beyond just telling a story.”

Giles isn’t just an inspiration for aspirFor Giles, that includes getting to speak at ing authors; he also shows that amazing schools. “I didn’t know that was a thing things can happen when someone doesn’t when I was writing Fake ID, but after it got allow their circumstances or negative peo40


ple to keep them from doing what they want to do.

what your dream is there are ways to accomplish it.’”

“I was bullied at times, and I had to deal with being from a place where people didn’t expect me to have a job like this. There were times I was actively discouraged by people who were supposed to encourage me, and I feel like that message resonates with some of the kids I talk to,” Giles said.

Not surprisingly, Giles strongly believes in the importance of having a mentor, especially since he didn’t have one for a long time.

“So, along with my love of writing my ability to talk with these kids and give them a message of hope for whatever it is that they want to do keeps me wanting to be an author.” Speaking at a school is always a rewarding experience for Giles, but the opportunity to visit the school he attended when living in his hometown is especially poignant. Coincidentally, he spoke there the day before this interview. “I’ll talk to this one particular class who will have read one of my books, and we’ll sit and chat for a couple of hours. They can ask me questions, and I tell them to ask anything because nothing is off limits – and they do. Plus, they can email me if they think of something later.” Giles is making a positive impact at every school, but he feels like his personal story is most impactful to the children in his hometown. “It’s a strong message for me to say, ‘I grew up where you grew up, my mom lives two miles from here, I walked these halls many years ago, and yet I’ve got a job that I think is a dream. So, no matter

“I think finding one is key in helping overcome tough places in your career. They’re also beneficial when you’re trying to develop your craft but are running into problems that seem to have no solutions,” Giles said. “Then you have someone who can tell you, ‘Hey! I’ve been there too!’” It’s not always easy to find the right mentor – sometimes it takes time. “I didn’t meet a professional writer until I was nineteen years old,” Giles said. “I met Sheri Reynolds who wrote The Rapture of Canaan which was an Oprah Book Club pick back in the day. She taught in my university and, to this day, is still a friend. Very early on she encouraged me and told me that I had talent. We would talk about the ups and downs of the industry and things like that. She even taught me again when I went back to graduate school a few years ago.” Those who aren’t able to befriend authors (or others in their desired field) in person shouldn’t be discouraged. Instead, they should turn to the internet. “You can find mentors, peers and writing groups online,” Giles said. “It’s even easier to talk to the writers you admire. Some may not answer because they’re super busy, but I’ve found that probably 80 percent of the writers I reached out to before CURIOSITALES

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before I was in the industry at least thanked me for me complimenting their book or even gave a little advice.” It’s always amazing to get advice from authors, but so much can be learned from simply reading their work. That’s one of the reasons Giles is so excited to be a part of the middle-grade anthology, Hero Next Door, which will be released on July 30, 2019. Although he is not the editor of this one, he was for the anthology Fresh Ink. “It feels pretty good,” Giles said happily about the opportunity to be a part of these anthologies. “It also feels logical because, particularly with Fresh Ink, we had a variety of contributors from all sorts of cultural backgrounds. It just made sense to us at We Need Diverse Books.” One of the reasons Giles is a fan of anthologies is because of how many stories children are given access to. “You may not always be able to give a child twelve individual books, but you can give them one book with twelve stories,” he explained. “So, we make an effort to do those anthologies for that very reason – so more children will have the opportunity to see people like themselves. And for the other children, they’re learning about other cultures and are getting an opportunity to understand that there are all sorts of heroes out there. It helps develop empathy, and it introduces different kinds of normal.” Giles’ passion for what he does truly shines through in what he says and the way he speaks. That’s why it’s not surprising that he enjoys speaking to kids 42


– his positivity and desire to help, encourage, and lift up those around him comes through in what he says and does. The way he chose to end this interview reflects this as well. “To all who have supported me, I say thank you – I wouldn’t be here without you,” Giles said. “Also, to everyone, I think you should continue to read widely. Try to stretch yourself. Try to read things you think you wouldn’t like by authors you may not be very familiar with. I think you’ll find some really great surprises that will change your reading life forever.” Needless to say, a great book to add to your reading list is Spin! Luckily, the release date (January 29) is only two weeks away. But you can go ahead and find links to pre-order it at Goodreads right now!


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Share Your Shelf

with Lamar Giles

Wearable Neck Reading Lamp This fits around your neck, like a bendable letter “U”, and at each end is a light. You can aim and focus each (or both) for your own personal reading lamp. I find this useful when reading in bed after my wife has gone to sleep. iPad Mini My go to for reading books and comic books on the go. My original Black Panther and Storm sketches by noted comic book artist Larry Stroman - ‘Nuff said. Mjolnir Paper Weight Technically, it’s not a paperweight. But since we all know what happens when you put down Thor’s hammer, it does the job well. 44


Stephen King Simpsons Figurine I’m a bit of a King fanatic, and this figurine from his appearance on The Simpsons acts as a bookend on the shelf I have dedicated to his books. (A Pennywise FUNKO figure is the other bookend) All things IT Not only am I a King fanatic, but IT made me want to be a writer. So I have a lot of IT stuff. My Comic Boook Encyclopedias I look up a lot of superhero trivia. What? You don’t? Las Vegas Style Playing Cards from when I was researching my novel OVERTURNED When I was researching my third mystery novel, OVERTURNED, which is largely set in Las Vegas casinos, I managed to get my hand on a couple of dozen decks of used playing cards from various strip casinos. They’re all over my house, in case guests are itching for a game of Texas Hold ‘Em. My waterproof bluetooth speaker for listening to audiobooks If I’m not reading a book, I’m listening to one. Even in the shower. My ever growing WUNDERLIST of To-Be-Read books So my To Do List app has a list specifically for books I want to read. Given the rate at which it grows versus my actual reading speed, I’ll likely never get to them all. One can hope, though CURIOSITALES

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Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover? by Jun O. (@geekly-yuniq)

As humans, we are drawn to shiny and beautiful things.

latter, I don’t think I could help it even if I wanted to because pretty books are just that- pretty books. As humans, we are drawn to shiny and beautiful things. It’s in our nature to do so as millions of years ago that ability meant life or death. In modern times, we feast first with our eyes. We can conjure emotions by looking at a picture, and now, as we live in an Instagrammable world, we look for beautiful things in every aspect of our lives to post pictures about.

The first thing I see as I walk into a bookstore, be it online or in the real world, is the front covers of books. The covers with the most interesting and beautiful designs will be the ones I will pick up 90% of the time. Covers draw me into picking up a book in the first place, and most of the time, it’s the covers that make me buy In one way or another, we’ve heard the id- those books. iom “don’t judge a book by its cover”. The phrase is often used in different ways and There is a Hashtag in the bookstagram community, #coverporn. Though the the most common definitions are “don’t name is crude, the pleasure we get from judge something or someone from their outward appearance”, and “it’s what’s on buying beautiful books is real. Cover the inside that matters”. The other, literal, design has never been more important in this day and age. We take pictures of meaning would be, “do not judge a book everything and then we post them in our by its cover”. social media feeds. As they say; a picture IS worth a thousand words. A picture Now I’m not sure about everyone else online that might be seen and shared by but I have always been very guilty of the 48


online that might be seen and shared by thousands and millions of people worldwide. So yes, a cover that is unique and eye-catching is very important. First the cover, then the story. Why? Because it’s what you see first, it’s what will make you decide if the story is worth checking out or not. Plus, it also looks exquisite displayed on your shelf. For example, one book I’ve picked up solely based on the cover is Circe by Madeline Miller. I first saw this beautiful cover with CIRCE in a bold font circling around bookstagram and thought, “what a visually stunning book”. That cover got me to search and pick the book up for myself. Not only is the cover beautiful, the story is inspiring and empowering as well. I think we all need to give a lot more credit, respect, and admiration to book cover illustrators and designers. Not only do they have to design a book that stays relevant to the story, but they also need to

I think we all need to give a lot more credit, respect, and admiration to book cover illustrators and designers. CURIOSITALES

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think of the aspect of the title and how the font ties into the design as well. They need to make sure that the design isn’t similar to any other book designs for fear of getting accused of plagiarizing or copying. I’ve noticed too in the bookstagram community that authors and publishers have been hiring a lot of talented Instagram artists to design their book covers. An example is An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson. The cover art is designed by the talented Charlie Bowater. If you don’t already know her, pop over to her Instagram (@charliebowater) because... Well, let me name drop some of the works she’s done: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson, the Barnes and Noble edition sleeve of Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas, and, her latest, Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, to be published next year. As much as we don’t like to hear this, beautiful books sell. How many times have you scrolled through bookstagram (or walked past the library or a bookshop) and seen a beautiful book before you and were overcome by a curious sense of wonder? What is it about that book that makes it so special you need to pick it up to see what it’s about? Publishers and authors know they need their books to stand out among all the others. One such book that made me pause everything I was doing and Google the name was The Extinction Trials by S. M. Wilson. It has a mysterious and dangerous quality to the design and when I finally got my hands on it I couldn’t stop grinning nonstop. The cover is even more beautiful in real life and it has the most marvelous texture. 50


As fun and dandy as all that is, judging a book by its cover is not without fault. There have been plenty of books I’ve picked up based on the covers which turned out to be disappointing reads. The synopsis on the back cover only gives you a hint of what the book is about, so you are basically going into the story blind. I will not name the books, but I know covers aren’t everything. I know the cover is not what makes a book great. The story is. But it doesn’t deter from the fact that the cover is our first impression of this journey we will take into this new literary world we will step into. So, in closing, let us not be ashamed that we judge books by their covers. Let us revel in the fact that we love beautiful books and are taking the first step into this unknown, fictional world we wouldn’t otherwise dive into.

A Chinese-Indonesian born 21-year-old baker/cake decorator by day and avid reader by night. I love to paint, create bookish pictures for Instagram and write reviews for fun (@geekly_yuniq).


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Seen and Heard Happenings in the bookish sphere:



Send us your favorite tweets! CURIOSITALES

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Melissa & Isabel




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What is your favorite part of the creative process? Oh, we both love how our photos come together! We sometimes plan them, sometimes we just throw stuff together and see where it takes us. But honestly, we have to admit that our absolute favorite part out of all the setup is finally getting to eat the chef’s desserts after we take the photo. ;) #1 tip for collaborating? Know who you are working with! It’s very important to understand the person you want to collaborate with, this way you’ll see if what you have to offer fits well with their work, and vice versa. You definitely want to have a win-win situation to build a healthy relationship!

Why do you have a duo bookstagram? We have always been a team! My sister and I have been book blogging for almost 5 years now, and it’s always been about sharing our love for reading and food (since my sister is actually a chef). Before we even joined bookstagram, we already did bookish photos for our blog. However, bookstagram has definitely turned out to be our favorite platform since it has made us better at photography and be more creative!



Last book you both loved? Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco!!! Actually, we are both buddy reading this book and we absolutely love it. We have been following the Stalking Jack the Ripper series since it came out so this time we both agreed we had to read it together, at the same time, despite our separate reading schedules. And this is actually our first time buddy reading since we were kids so the experience has been extra special for us.

Favorite bit of latest literary news? A couple of months ago Julie Kagawa (author of The Iron Fey series and other novels) announced that she’ll be continuing The Iron Fey series after finishing with her most recent series, Shadow of the Fox. We are THRILLED by this news since The Iron Fey series is truly one of our all-time favorite series and we cannot even begin to imagine what’s in store for us with the new books. To meet up again with characters such as Grimalkin and Puck, and perhaps hear mention of Ash and Meghan, is more than we could have ever hoped for!


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World you love but would never want to visit? Oh this is so tough! Hmm.. we both agree that we would be totally okay by never visiting the Never Never from The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa, even though we love everything about it and adore the series so much. The Never Never is the faery world and it’s as dangerous as it is beautiful. We wouldn’t last much on it, and even if we happened to stumble into it one day, it would mean that our time spent there could turn out to be actually weeks, months, or even YEARS in the real world, since time passes differently in both dimensions. Imagine if the Never Never happened to make the day a never ending day, and when we went back to the real world, 100 years has already passed? NO, THANK YOU. (But it would be nice to see our faves: Grimalkin, Ash, Puck, and Meghan.) Most nuanced fictional character? One character that always pops to mind is Cinna from The Hunger Games. He is the stylist assigned to Katniss as she arrives to the Capitol for the first time and right from the start he is a character that, despite being from the Capitol, recognizes and subtly challenges the norms of such a society that makes children fight to the death for the Capitol’s entertainment. His visions lead to a revolution, and he demonstrates how one spark can light a fire. Favorite bookish team? Can we go with characters? If so, then the Golden Trio! But also, the Six of Crows gang. We just LOVE how well they fit together and how ready they are to pull off dangerous (but exciting) heists. :D Favorite bookish item? Our Sorting Hat, definitely. This is actually Isabel’s (the chef) as she got it as a birthday present from our parents, but we both have dibs on anything Harry Potter since we both grew up loving it at the same time. Oh, we also have two Time Turners that we absolutely love as well. (To be honest, anything and everything Harry Potter makes us incredibly happy!)



“RONALD WEASLEY! HOW DARE YOU STEAL THAT CAR? I AM ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTED! YOUR FATHER’S NOW FACING AN INQUIRY AT WORK, AND IT’S ENTIRELY YOUR FAULT! IF YOU PUT ANOTHER TOE OUT OF LINE, WE’LL BRING YOU STRAIGHT HOME! And Ginny, dear, congratulations on making it into Gryffindor. Your Father and I are so proud.” - Mrs. Weasley’s Howler in The Chamber of Secrets (Bet you read it in her voice!!!) CURIOSITALES

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Carmen Alvarez & Ann Taylor




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What is your favorite part of the creative process? Finding inspiration in both stories and covers then finding a way to translate that feeling or emotion into an appropriate photo. Why do you have a duo bookstagram? Everything is better in twos, especially a project where we can be creative together and go where our imaginations take us.



Favorite bookish team? Christina Lauren do an excellent job of writing books together--be it YA or adult romance. #1 tip for collaborating? Snacks, a bottle of wine, books, camera, computers and an afternoon together are all necessary components of our collaboration process.


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Last book you both loved? A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi. We are huge fans of Tahereh’s lush writing in the Shatter Me series and loved how she was translated that writing style into a contemporary that reflects her personal experience. The love story she spins is also so swoonworthy, which always helps. Favorite bookish item? I love the enamel pins I received from my Undead Girl Gang pre-order. They match the ones on the book exactly and are a prized bookish possession. World you love but would never want to visit? I love This Savage Song, but have no desire to visit that dark underbelly of a world full of monsters. Most nuanced fictional character? That is hard to put a finger on. I tend to like what are typically referred to as “unlikeable female characters” like Xifeng from Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dad or Alex Craft from Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis. Favorite bit of latest literary news? Dahlia Adler is compiling an anthology called His Hideous Heart with many authors like Kendare Blake and Caleb Roehrig re-imagining Edgar Allen Poe’s most twisted and disturbing tales. It will be out next year, as well as Cat Winters The Raven’s Tale, which is an imagining of Edgar Allen Poe’s teenage life. 2019 sounds like the year YA took ownership of Edgar Allen Poe. 72


Dreams don’t have timelines, deadlines, and aren’t always in straight lines.” - Jason Reynolds, For Everyone When a woman risks her place, her very life to speak a truth the world despises? Believe her. Always.“ -Joy McCullough, Blood, Water, Paint CURIOSITALES

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Irma & Nashrah




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Why do you have a duo bookstagram? Well um, it is no secret that we’re both hopeless book nerds. We both just love reading books. It might be the most commonest thing between us. The idea of starting it together just came out of nowhere. So one day, after coming across a lot of bookstagrammers we just decided to start our own blog and share our thoughts, not only with each other but also with every book nerd out there. Favorite part of the creative process? For Irma, the most favorite creative process would be photography. As a designer I try to make our pictures as appealing and aesthetic as I can, but of course I cannot do it all without my sister. And as for Nashrah, that’d be writing reviews and interacting and meeting new people through our blog. I’m just good at doing all the talking and writing my thoughts out for everybody to read. Favorite bit of latest literary news? Margaret Atwood is writing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, that’s a pretty exciting news!! 76


Favorite bookish team? James Trevino and Elizabeth Sagan. They both have individual instagram accounts but omg, their content is goals! #1 tip for collarborating? I think for us, collaboration is all about communicating with each other. We’re always open to each other’s new ideas and also at the same time, we respect criticism. And always, alway support each other through good and bad. Last book you both loved? Irma: I’ve been reading a lot of Sarah J. Maas over the last few months. I loved ACOTAR series and currently I’m loving Throne of Glass series. Juts give me a fantasy novel and watch me fangirl like a teenager! Nashrah: I’ve read a lot of books this year that I can call my favorites but I’ll go with Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini. It was a 10 minute read but my god, Khaled Hosseini knows how to pull at your heartstrings. He’s just so good at it. Most nuanced character? Irma: Rhysand from ACOTOR series by Sarah J. Maas. Nashrah: Amir from The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.


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Favorite bookish item? Bookmarks! Give us all the bookmarks in the world and we’ll be as happy as a kid. And scented candles. We’ve come across bookish scented candles (never knew that was thing before), they’re just so soothing. What world do you love but would never want to visit? For us, it’d be The Song of Ice & Fire’s world. The GOT world. George R.R. Martin created this amazing world which is full of beautiful places but at the same time it’s very mysterious and full of corruption, betrayal and brutal murders. We like the world that he created but we sure as hell don’t even want to visit that place.



“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost” CURIOSITALES

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Modern Fairytales:

photo essay inspired by Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid by Randi Burdette




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About the Photographer

Randi Burdette I am a Montana based photographer who enjoys all things Disney and fantasy. I am always looking for inspiration for my photoshoots. In my spare time I work at a bookstore, organize renaissance fairs, and do community theater. 92



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Around the World T

he website for the Klementinum Library in Prague proclaims itself ‘the most beautiful library in the world.’ A lofty claim, perhaps... that is until you see the interior for yourself. The library itself is a historical marvel, but more important is its’ dedication to sharing and preserving the knowledge hidden away inside. The library is currently in partnership with Google and you can find many of the books available in Klementinum Library digitized on-line, available to all no matter their location. They have plans to include their complete catalogue. Fancy a visit? The library is open to the public and gives guided tours. This book marvel is a must see the next time you happen to find yourself in Prague!

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