Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Angie Thomas at Politics and Prose

It's possible the impending storm kept the crowd size down a bit at the Politics and Prose event at Busboys and Poets last night, although given the audience members who mentioned they had driven from Alabama or were from California or Hawaii it's hard to say.  (At least one of those folks had family in town.  Nonetheless, it was a long trip.)  But the room was full as Alexandria librarian Rose Dawson asked Thomas about her now officially bestselling book, The Hate U Give.  She talked about the title (which is also explained in the book), and that she had started writing it as a short story in college, after the Oscar Grant police shooting and looking at the difference in how it was being discussed at home in her neighborhood, compared to in her predominately white classes.  Her creative writing teacher told her it was too much, not the subject matter, but she was adding too many layers and plot elements to explore in the short form, that it looked like she was building a novel. 
Thomas put it to the side a couple of times, and then kept pulling it back out when the world made her mad.  She talked about her intentional use of a blended but strong family in the book, and that she wanted to give Starr a great relationship with her dad. (I will say one of the things I loved about the book is the adult characters are as wonderfully layered as the teen characters while the focus of the book is still firmly on Starr.)
There was some discussion of movie casting which was purely speculative, but some YA books are great reads, but so much of that is the internal monologue, that you have no idea how it would be a good movie, this one has enough externality, that I think it will be great.  
Thomas also talked about having a fangirl moment with Jacqueline Woodson, when one audience member asked what writer she'd love to have brunch with.  Thomas said, if she could figure out how to speak in the presence of Woodson, she'd pick her.  
All in all, it was a great night.