What Is “New Spin,” Anyway?

by Wendy Lu
published in Reading

Here at DIY MFA, we love to share exciting new books and up-and-coming authors with our audience – you!

That’s why I started New Spin, a bi-monthly DIY MFA column that covers everything that falls within alternative storytelling and new approaches to reading books: literary mash-ups, books that put a new spin on classic stories – such as retellings of fairy tales – and “meta-books” that use new media, graphic illustrations and even music for an enhanced reader experience. Since the concept behind the column is relatively broad, there are endless possibilities for different interpretations on what constitutes as a “new spin” (read about my upcoming China book culture series below).

As a reading-focused column, New Spin is mainly comprised of three different types of articles: book analyses, author Q&As and feature articles. Depending on the article, I interview authors and illustrators about the inspiration and creative processes behind developing their books. For me, reading books by people whom I actually know a thing or two about makes their work just that much more interesting. You know where the creators were coming from when they decided to pick certain settings or use specific color palettes for picture books or –gasp – kill a character. My goal is to make sure you know the story behind the story, because what’s more fascinating than going behind the scenes and inside an author’s or illustrator’s mind?

Here are just a few past articles I’ve covered for New Spin:

1) “Devious Storytelling: Celebrating the Release of ‘Battle Bunny

After creating the most cliché children’s story they could think of called Birthday Bunny, New York Times bestselling authors Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett turned it into a literary mash-up. And just like that, Battle Bunny was born. For this article, I spoke with both Scieszka and Barnett as well as the book’s illustrator, Matt Myers, about what it was like to create a picture book about an evil bunny who plots to take over the world.

2) “The Graphic Novel of ‘Miss Peregrine’

Using fantasy storytelling and vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children whisks readers – along with the story’s, protagonist, Jacob – away to an abandoned orphanage in Wales. First written by New York Times bestselling author Ransom Riggs as a fiction book, Miss Peregrine was transformed into a graphic novel. This feature article focuses on graphic novelist Cassandra Jean’s experiences of working with Riggs’ photographs to create a work of art that still flowed like the original story.

3) “The Picture Book Behind ‘What Does the Fox Say?’

Nearly everyone has seen, or at least heard of, the YouTube sensation by the Ylvis brothers. But “What Does the Fox Say?” was also turned into a children’s picture book by Norwegian author and illustrator Svein Nyhus, whose vision was “to repeat or create the energy and silliness [as displayed in the music video] into an independently visualized picture book version,” he wrote in an email interview. Click to read more about how Nyhus incorporated musical rhythms into the imagery of his sketches – from sound to storyboard.

Occasionally, I’ll also write other pieces that may or may not fall under New Spin. In addition to the articles above and a Q&A with romantic-suspense novelist Kat Martin, I’ve also discussed writing outside your comfort zone and given creative writing lessons from a journalist’s perspective. New Spin, however, is DIY MFA’s primary books column and what I’ll be contributing to the most. My hope is to generate feature content for the website that helps you not only explore new books, but also read them with purpose and creative context.

So what can you look forward to in the coming weeks? You may have read DIY MFA’s recent recap on “NYC Teen Author Festival 2014” by curriculum coordinator Meghan Drummond. In a few days, I’ll delve a bit deeper into NYC TAF’s “What We Write About When We Write About Teenagers in Love” panel. In addition to several feature articles on various surprise books and authors (check back to find out what and who they are!), I’ll be traveling to Beijing this summer and writing a series of New Spin articles about book culture and identification with fictional characters in China. Lastly, I’ve got a couple of book analyses in store for you, highlighting some of our most popular book series – think wizards and witches attending a magical school called Hogwarts! – and how they’ve evolved over the years thanks to digital media, fanfiction and even theme parks.

Your New Spin:

What are some titles you’d like to see featured on New Spin? Do you know of any authors whose work fits right in with alternative storytelling? Drop me a line at wendy@DIYMFA.com or share with us in comments below.


Wendy-BioPic Wendy Lu is the print co-editor for The Durham VOICE and the managing editor of UNC’s Blue & White magazine. She is also a former publishing intern at Sleepy Hollow Books and a NaNoWriMo 2008 winner. Her work has appeared in The Daily Tar Heel, Raleigh Public Record and Chapel Hill Magazine’s The WEEKLY. Learn more about Wendy’s work at https://wendyluwrites.com.

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