Interview with Nita Tyndall

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Nita Tyndall is a tiny Southern queer with a deep love of sweet tea and very strong opinions about the best kind of barbecue (hint: it’s vinegar-based.) In addition to being a YA writer, she is a moderator for The Gay YA and a social media coordinator for WeNeedDiverseBooks. You can find her on tumblr at nitatyndall where she writes about YA and queer things, or on Twitter at @NitaTyndall. She lives in North Carolina.She is represented by Emily S. Keyes of Fuse Literary.

Kat Sherwood: What inspired you to be an author?

Nita Tyndall: Honestly, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I always loved making up stories as a kid, and I got into fandom in middle school which made me want to write more. But reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak in eighth grade cemented it. It was the first book I read where I was like, “I want to write something like that.”

K: Tell us some of the ups and downs of being an author? What challenges do you face?

N: Some days, just getting my butt in the chair to write is a challenge. It’s so easy to get caught up in anxiety about social media, tweets, publishing, and forget to actually write. So, I try to cull distractions where I can. Definitely the ups are when I go to local book events to support other authors and I feel like I’m there to support them as a fellow author, not just a reader.

K: Do you have any favorite authors or texts? 

N: Laurie Halse Anderson is a perpetual favorite as are Courtney Summers and Nova Ren Suma and Mindy McGinnis. I also really love Whitney Gardner’s You’re Welcome, Universe, which features a Deaf protagonist and will be out in March.

K: Do you prefer paper books or e-books?

N: Both! If I’m stuck reading an e-book I’ll switch to paper—it’s refreshing to see the actual physical progress I’m making in a book.

K: Have your personal experiences influenced your work?

N: As a queer woman, I’m definitely conscious of including queer characters in my works. When I was growing up there weren’t that many LGBTQIA books—well L and G, hardly any of the other letters—and I remember feeling so lonely because I couldn’t find myself in books. I don’t want a teen reading my own work to experience that.

K: Any advice for young writers as they attempt to publish their first story?

N: Understand that this is definitely a process, not a one-time thing. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen as fast as you hoped, especially if the people around you are advancing. That’s the best thing I can say, really. Jealousy in creative types can be awful, but remember, your time will come. I promise.

K: What’s the best educational background for social media coordinators? How did you end up in your career as a social media coordinator?

N: I fell into it! I’m on social media a lot for my own author work and I was approached by WeNeedDiverseBooks to help out with their Tumblr, and I agreed. (It really is who you know.) I have an English degree and I definitely think that’s helped me in terms of having a general background to work in different facets of writing and publishing.

K: What is the most important message you can give about diversity and diverse literature?

N: Definitely to have empathy. Include diversity in your stories, talk to the people you want to write about. If you can’t empathize, you can’t write a good character. Empathy is so important in writing regardless, but especially when writing about characters who aren’t like you.

For more information on Nita, what WeNeedDiverseBooks is and does, or need recommendations on diverse books go to www.WeNeedDiverseBooks.org

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