Hi friends! I’m so excited to welcome first time guest Carrie Pack to ALBTALBS. Not only is she a member of the LGBTQ community, she’s also a romance author – and ALSO ALSO – her newest book is out today! Yes!!! Today!!! Congratulations on your newest release, Carrie!
Finding yourself in fiction
Books we read as children and teens stay with us throughout our lives. That’s one of the reasons I chose to write young adult fiction. I wanted to write books that matter to young people. I wanted to give them experiences that I didn’t get to have but that maybe impact them in ways that will mean so much.
The first book I read that really meant something to me was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I vividly remember realizing that there was more to the land of Oz than the 1939 Judy Garland film. I devoured book after book in the series.
As I grew up, I realized that there was more to these stories than simply Dorothy’s quest to return to Kansas. And the depth of meaning in classic children’s stories still astounds me. From Charlotte’s Web to Alice in Wonderland, and The Chronicles of Narnia to Harry Potter, kidlit has always taught us more than just how to slay the proverbial dragon. We learn values such as compassion and bravery and, even more importantly, we learn about those things we abhor like racism, sexism, and bigotry.
Today’s young adult fiction vacillates from the didactic to the superficial, and everything in between. When writing for a young audience, it’s important for authors to remember that we have the ability to influence our readers in a unique way and not to take that responsibility lightly.
With Grrrls on the Side, I wrote a novel that I personally believe has a strong message but is also fun to read. The story takes place during the early 1990s and focuses on a feminist movement called Riot Grrrl. My main character, Tabitha, deals with bullying, finding herself, and falling in love—all things teenage girls typically face. It’s through her fellow Riot Grrrls that she finds the courage to be who she is and not conform to the pressures of society.
The Riot Grrrl movement itself was about educating and inspiring young women and girls, but it was also about having fun and being yourself. The message may be less subtle than Dorothy’s adventures in Oz and less epic than Harry’s years at Hogwarts, but what I hope to convey in Grrrls is no less important.
It’s not sugar-coated. Just like in the classics I loved, no one in Grrrls on the Side is perfect. Adults and kids make mistakes. Sometimes a beloved friend leaves and sometimes they return. Parents are human. The “bad guy” has flaws too. And most importantly, who you are is enough. It’s possible to be loved just as you are.
Bio: Never one for following the “rules,” Carrie Pack is a published author of books in multiple genres, including Designs on You, In the Present Tense (a 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year finalist) and the forthcoming Grrrls on the Side (2017). Her novels focus on characters finding themselves in their own time—something she experienced for herself when she came out as bisexual recently. She’s passionate about positive representation in her writing and has been a feminist before she knew what the word meant, thanks to a progressive and civic-minded grandmother. Coincidentally that’s also where she got her love of red lipstick and desserts. Carrie lives in Florida, or as she likes to call it, “America’s Wang.”
The year is 1994 and alternative is in. But not for alternative girl Tabitha Denton; she hates her life. She is uninterested in boys, lonely, and sidelined by former friends at her suburban high school. When she picks up a zine at a punk concert, she finds an escape—an advertisement for a Riot Grrrl meet-up.
At the meeting, Tabitha finds girls who are more like her and a place to belong. But just as Tabitha is settling in with her new friends and beginning to think she understands herself, eighteen-year-old Jackie Hardwick walks into a meeting and changes her world forever. The out-and-proud Jackie is unlike anyone Tabitha has ever known. As her feelings for Jackie grow, Tabitha begins to learn more about herself and the racial injustices of the punk scene, but to be with Jackie, she must also come to grips with her own privilege and stand up for what’s right.
You can buy a copy here.
Okay okay, so, I’m super excited about so many things about this post! But I don’t want to hijack it so I’ll talk in the comments. (Talk more?) Also, I’m the brat who added all the links. I do this as general practice – I don’t imagine people won’t know the books Carrie mentioned but you know. ANYWAY. I’d love to hear what you all have to say in response to what Carrie shared! <3
Thank you so much, Carrie, and happy release day!
Thank you so much for having me, Lime! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.
As a side note, I want to point out that Designs On You is definitely *not* YA. It still deals with the characters finding themselves, as all my books do, but it was written with an adult audience in mind. In the Present Tense is new adult, but, thanks to time travel, the character is 17 for a bunch of the novel. 🙂
I enjoyed all of the same books as a child
congratulations on your new release. it’s important for kids to find books they can relate to.