Diversity drive on track in children’s, but call for more BAME authors
By Jasmine Richards
This is an extract from an article by Charlotte Eyre in The Bookseller that I was asked to comment on. To read the full article visit The Bookseller website.
Authors, agents and publishers have praised the increase in the number of books with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and mental health themes in 2015, but added that more needs to be done in terms of publishing BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) authors and books that feature characters with disabilities.
Catherine Johnson (pictured), the author of several children’s books, including The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo, said there has been a “blossoming” of work by LGBT authors this year. Citing authors such ase Liz Kessler, James Dawson and Sarah Benwell, she said: “The publishing industry has seen that books with LGBT characters and themes can be strong sellers as well as critical successes. Readers and bloggers have shown publishers there is an active demand for books that honestly reflect gender and sexuality.”
Tom Bonnick, business development manager and commissioning editor at Nosy Crow, said many books were now being published in which being LGBT is “just a fact of identity” and not a “sideshow”, singling out George by Alex Gino (Scholastic).
Johnson also highlighted the increase in the number of books tackling mental health issues, citing Holly Bourne’s “marvellous” Am I Normal Yet?, and pointed out that “even Zoella’s bestselling protagonist [in Girl Online] has panic attacks”.
Jasmine Richards, author and senior commissioning editor for children’s fiction at Oxford University Press, said diversity had “never been such a livewire topic” in publishing and praised the launch of Megaphone, a writer development scheme for authors from BAME backgrounds.