Hi guys! This past weekend, I attended the Southern Festival of Books and met some amazing authors! I’m planning on posting some pictures here on the blog soon, but today I am so excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Dear Martin by Nic Stone, which releases TOMORROW! Go get her book, and check out her lovely interview here below!
About the Book:
Title: DEAR MARTIN
Author: Nic Stone
Pub. Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Synopsis: Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.
Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.
1. Your debut novel Dear Martin tackles the racism that many African-Americans face today, and it releases tomorrow October 17th from Crown Books! What compelled you to write Dear Martin? Did you use any of your own or others’ experiences to construct the story’s plot, characters, setting, etc.?
So Dear Martin is really the outflow of my needing to get a better handle on American Race Relations in the 21st century. I have two little boys, and after seeing so many unarmed African Americans killed over the past five years or so—often by police officers—I really wanted to examine… how we got here, I guess. I also kept seeing quotes from the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. misappropriated and used in opposition to the type of protests and marches he championed during the Civil Rights Movement of the mid 20th century, so that made me wonder: what would Dr. King say and do were he alive now? Thus, Dear Martin was born. And yes: most of the novel is based on actual events, whether from my own life or the lives of people I know, and even some things pulled (and remixed a bit for the sake of respecting victims) from the news. Hopefully the fact that people will recognize some of the novel’s elements will make it that much more compelling.
2. Were any of Justyce’s characteristics based off yours, and if so, what are they?
So like Justyce, I was a debater! I was also typically one of the only African American kids in my high school classes. In many ways, though, I was more like Justyce’s best friend Manny than I was like Justyce. I put up with a lot of microaggressions for the sake of “not stirring the waters.”
3. Since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is Justyce’s role model throughout the book, how does Dr. King inspire you in your everyday life?
My favorite thing about Dr. King is that he was a very logical man. It’s clear from reading his teachings, speeches, books, and sermons that he thought critically about the world around him and took the time to pick it apart. That’s something not enough people do in our present I need answers NOW age, and I think it’s to our detriment. Dr. King was also deeply compassionate, and I think we could all stand to be more like him in that arena.
4. What were some of the challenges that arose as you wrote Dear Martin, and how did you overcome them?
Honestly, the biggest challenge was having to do the research and writing simultaneously because I was on a tight deadline (eight weeks) for the first draft. I just holed myself up in my bedroom (thank God for excellent husbands who want you to live your dream and will take care of the children, lol) every day and banged it out. I will confess there was much sobbing and raging and being a trash fire of a person for a while.
5. In your bio, you mentioned that you lived in Israel for a few years before you moved back to the US. What are some of your favorite things about the country? Would you like to share some of your fondest or funniest memories from your stay in Israel?
Oh this is an easy one: the best thing about Israel is the food. The food is just pure magic. It’s what I miss the most! We lived near the big outdoor market in Jerusalem, and some of my fondest memories involve what was essentially grocery shopping. There was one guy who worked this produce stall that used to call me Janet Jackson every time he saw me. Good times.
6. How does it feel like being a debut author in 2017? How are you feeling knowing that your book is about to be released?
I’m trying not to think about it? LOL! Dear Martin sold in February 2015, so it’s been a long ride. Very strange feeling getting to the finish line, so to speak. I’m keeping myself distracted by working on more books.
7. Which books and authors would you recommend to readers that also tackle racism and other race-related issues in America?
Oh man, there are a lot. Starting with the man himself, I’d recommend Why We Can’t Wait by Dr. King. Also Killers of the Dream by Lillian Smith, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. All of those were written a long time ago, but it’s eerie how relevant they still are. In regard to recent stuff: How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon, All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Fire This Time edited by Jesmyn Ward, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Go get woke, friends!
8. How do you want readers to be impacted by your novel? If each reader could take out an important message once he or she is finished with Dear Martin, what do you want it to be?
Examine your world and be honest with yourself and others about the problems that exist within it. That’s really what I want people to take from the book. Oftentimes, we’re afraid to ask questions that don’t have simple answers or to acknowledge problems that lack clear cut solutions because those things make us uncomfortable. But I know from experiences that the discomfort engenders empathy and compassion. So let’s all get a bit more real about the world we live in.
Thank you so much, Nic, for coming onto the blog! It’s an honor to have you!
Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.
You can find her goofing off and/or fangirling over her husband and sons on most social media platforms as @getnicced.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of DEAR MARTIN, US Only.
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11/1/2017- Reese’s Reviews– Excerpt
11/2/2017- Novel Ink– Review
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11/6/2017- Amanda Gernentz Hanson– Review
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Are you excited about Dear Martin? What are your thoughts on this book?
Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!