Episode 210: Showing the Diversity within Diversity — Interview with Tami Charles

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds!

Today I am thrilled to have Tami Charles on the show!

Tami is a former teacher and current full-time author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, as well as nonfiction. As a teacher, she made it her mission to introduce her students to all types of literature, but especially diverse books.

While it was refreshing to see a better selection than what she was accustomed to as a child, Tami felt there weren’t nearly as many diverse books as she’d hoped for. It was then that she decided to reignite her passion for writing, and put those books she longed to see on the shelves herself.

Tami is the author of several current and upcoming children’s books, but she is here with us today to share an inside look at her beautiful middle grade novel Like Vanessa.

So listen in as Tami and I chat about this awesome book, and the importance for all writers to write what they want in an authentic way.

In this episode Tami and I discuss:

  • Pouring your own experiences into your character.
  • The concept of colorism.
  • Crafting a novel in the no man’s land between MG and YA.
  • How to use poetry to pull readers into your character’s emotions.
  • Writing in your authentic voice without being pigeonholed.

Plus, Tami’s #1 tip for writers.

About Tami Charles

Tami Charles is a former teacher and full-time author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made it her mission to introduce her students to all types of literature, but especially diverse books.

While it was refreshing to see a better selection than what she was accustomed to as a child, Tami felt there weren’t nearly as many diverse books as she’d hoped for. It was then that she decided to reignite her passion for writing.

Tami’s debut  middle grade novel Like Vanessa is available now from Charlesbridge and her picture book Freedom Soup will be released by Candlewick Press in Fall 2019.

To connect with Tami check out her website at tamiwrites.com.

Like Vanessa

“And in that moment I believe what they say could be true for me. That I could be like Vanessa Williams.”

In this semi-autobiographical debut novel, thirteen-year-old Vanessa Martin watches as the first black Miss America is crowned.

It’s 1983 in Newark, New Jersey, and Vanessa’s life is a far cry from the glamorous Miss America stage. She struggles with family, friendships, racism, and self-confidence. When a new teacher at school coordinates a beauty pageant and asks Vanessa to enter, Vanessa decides there’s no way. But with help from Pop Pop and her cousin TJ, Vanessa prepares for the challenge. Add in the neighborhood mean girl, a mysterious envelope addressed to Vanessa, and trying to make monthly ends meet, and eighth-grade is as stressful as it gets.

 

If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Amazon affiliate link, where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

 

Link to Episode 210

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome!

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