Welcome to Meet The Newbies, a co-hosted event from Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books and I, in which we introduce you to all of the new kids in school aka the 2015 debut authors.
Meet the author:
Valynne E. Maetani (pronounced Vuh-lin Mah-eh-tah-nee) grew up in Utah and obtained a Bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In a former life, she was a project manager and developed educational software for children with learning disabilities. Currently, she is a full-time writer. Her debut novel, Ink and Ashes, is the winner of the New Visions Award 2013 and is a Junior Library Guild 2015 selection. She is a member of the We Need Diverse Books team and is dedicated to promoting diversity in children's literature because every child should grow up believing his or her story deserves to be told. She lives in Salt Lake City.
Meet her debut novel:
Author: Valynne E. Maetani
Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Published: June 1, 2015 by Tu Books
Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away when she was a little girl. But on the anniversary of his death, not long before her seventeenth birthday, she finds a mysterious letter from her deceased father, addressed to her stepfather. Claire never even knew that they had met. Claire knows she should let it go, but she can’t shake the feeling that something’s been kept from her. In search of answers, Claire combs through anything that will give her information about her father . . . until she discovers he was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed. So begins the race to outrun his legacy as the secrets of her father’s past threaten Claire’s friends and family, newfound love, and ultimately her life. Ink and Ashes, winner of Tu Books’ New Visions Award, is a heart-stopping debut mystery that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.
Valynne E. Maetani is stopping by to share her writing story. I think it is really interesting and a bit different. I hope you enjoy it!
My father grew up in Hawaii, and though it wasn’t very often, our family would travel to Oahu to visit my grandparents. On one of the trips, I think I was about eleven or twelve, we were at the Ala Moana Shopping Center at Shirokiya, one of my favorite stores at the mall. In the toy section, I found a Cabbage Patch doll and begged my mom to buy it. But it was $40, which was a lot of money to pay for a doll back then (and now too!) Even though I would be spending all the money I had saved for the trip, I bought it. My mom couldn’t understand why I would want a doll that badly when I had never played with one before then (not even Barbies), never wanted one, and was at an age where it seemed I might have outgrown such a toy.
What my mom didn’t understand is that the doll had black hair and black eyes. It was the first time I had seen an Asian doll that wasn’t porcelain—one that I could actually play with. In reality, their version of an Asian doll was really a white doll with black hair and eyes, but I didn’t care. I was convinced it looked like me. Not even I understood at the time how marginalized I felt growing up. I didn’t see myself in movies or toys, and I never saw myself in books.
When my sister turned eighteen, I decided to write Ink and Ashes for her because I never got to see myself in books other than those with settings involving war, an internment camp, or high fantasy. I wanted her to have a contemporary title with a Japanese American protagonist. I was tired of reading about people like me who were hated just because of the way they look and thought the greatest gift I could give her was the kind of book I never got to read.
As I began to craft the story, I fell in love with writing immediately. But I never thought my manuscript would become a published book. I had gone to many writing conferences where agents and editors had said they wanted something different, but the same. They suggested going to Amazon to see if there were books similar to the one I had written. They said if I couldn’t find anything, it meant there most likely wasn’t a market for my book. I didn’t see anything similar anywhere. I asked booksellers, librarians, and searched online for “read-alikes” but found nothing. Having never seen myself in books, I had grown up thinking my story wasn’t important enough to be told, so it didn’t surprise me. I set the manuscript aside and began working on my next book.
And then Tu Books called for submissions for the New Visions Award. They were looking for books exactly like mine. Three months later I found out I was one of the five finalists. Six months later I found out I had won the award. My book was going to be published! Since then, I have met so many authors and people who believe diversity in children’s literature is important. Like me, they believe books need to be mirrors for children to see themselves and windows to learn about others whose experience differs.
No child should grow up believing his or her story isn’t important enough to be told. I am so excited for my book to be in the world!
Thanks so much Valynne for providing a signed copy of Ink and Ashes for #MeetThe Newbs This is open to US Only!
Other #MeetTheNewbs Posts & Giveaways:
Remember to mark down on your calendar that June 20th @ 4pm EST the second Meet The Newbies twitter chat is taking place using the hashtag #MTN2015