We have Nic Stone in our new episode, author of the incredibly powerful debut, Dear Martin. Her new novel releases on October 17 and I am incredibly excited that we can reveal an excerpt from Dear Martin that’s exclusive to our 88 Cups of Tea community. To read the exclusive excerpt, scroll down!
In our conversation, you’ll learn what inspired the idea for Nic’s debut and what helped to shape the voice of her main character Justyce McAllister. She shares how to create emotional resonance in our work by being vulnerable and writing like a reader. We discuss the importance of having an honest and visionary editor on your team, the importance of diverse representation in the publishing industry, and how playing with the format of your book can help you cater to specific audiences.
We talk about the detrimental problems caused by systemic racism and we deep-dive into understanding that the root of anger can lead to compassion, and how to create change through self-reflection. We wrap up the interview chatting about Nic’s next novel that she is currently working on!
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“I wasted time trying to find balance instead of just working with what I had.”
“I have to do my art, I have to write, I have to do these things that keep me thriving and keep me going and keep me feeling alive.”
“Write like a reader and read like a writer.”
What You’ll Learn From This Episode:
- Learn how Nic fell in love with storytelling and YA fiction
- Nic shares how you can learn to write through reading
- Learn why it’s important to not feel guilty when you fail in certain areas while succeeding in others
- How our country’s systemic racism crumbled Nic’s world and shaped the voice of Justyce in “Dear Martin”
- How understanding the root of your anger can lead to compassion
- Creating change through self-reflection and finding the space in which you thrive
- The importance of your rhetoric when interacting with people with problematic thinking
- Nic shares exciting news about her novel that she is currently working on
- The importance of having an honest and visionary editor on your team
- How playing with the format of your book can help you cater to specific audiences
- How personifying your world’s settings can create more life in your novel
- Create emotional resonance in your work by being vulnerable and writing like a reader
- The importance of diverse representation in the publishing industry
88 Cups of Tea can exclusively reveal an excerpt from “Dear Martin”, due for release Oct. 17. Pre-order it here and read on for an overview of the book followed by a taste of what’s to come.
About Dear Martin
Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has left Justyce contemplative and on edge. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only
exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.
Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure. Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up (way up), much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.
Exclusive Excerpt: “Dear Martin” by Nic Stone
Can you explain why everywhere I turn, I run into people who wanna keep me down?
Tonight I went home because I decided to share the Yale news with Mama in person, and while she was ecstatic, what I faced when I left the house brought me back as low as the “affirmative action is bullshit” discussion from class today.
Basically, when I rounded the corner to head to my bus stop, Trey and a bunch of the Black Jihad dudes (the white guy included) were standing there “shootin’ the sh*t,” as my granddaddy used to say. When Trey asked me what the f%#k I was so happy about, I actually told them about Yale.
Yeah, I was trippin’, Martin.
Trey’s response? “You’ll be back, smart guy. Once you see them white folks don’t want yo black ass at they table.
They not down with you bein’ their equal, dawg. We’ll see you soon.” He grinned.
I think if the Socio Evo discussion had taken place on a different day, I could’ve ignored Trey. I mean what the heck does he know? I’m not even sure he’s still in school, and the only white person he interacts with was standing there with his blond hair in cornrows and a gold grill that spelled out “BRAD” across his teeth.
Jared and Trey taken together, though? The whole return trip to campus, their words played catch with my confidence.
Jared’s test score thing really bugged me. All this talk about how “equal” things are, yet he assumed I didn’t do as well as he did? And NOBODY can tell me he didn’t make that assumption because he’s white and I’m black, Martin.
And then Trey . . . WHY does this guy insist on trying to keep me down? On the real, he’s just as bad as Jared!
It’s like I’m trying to climb a mountain, but I’ve got one fool trying to shove me down so I won’t be on his level, and another fool tugging at my leg, trying to pull me to the ground he refuses to leave. Jared and Trey are only two people, but after today, I know that when I head to Yale next fall (because I AM going there), I’m gonna be paranoid about people looking at me and wondering if I’m qualified to be there.
How do I work against this, Martin? Getting real with you, I feel a little defeated. Knowing there are people who don’t want me to succeed is depressing. Especially coming from two directions.
I’m working hard to choose the moral high road like you would, but it’ll take more than that, won’t it?
Where’d you get the courage to keep climbing in the face of stuff like this? Because I know you got it from both sides.
I’m gonna try and sleep now. Get my head reset on my shoulders. Feel free to pop up in my dreams or something.
Tell me what to do. Like Babe Ruth did to Benny in The Sandlot (I love that movie, Martin).
P.S. Totally unrelated, but you know anything about love triangles? I feel like a jerk because there SJ was, cheering me forward, while Melo—as usual, only thinking of herself—wanted to hold me back. And what did I do? Capitulated to the booty (and, okay, the fear of what my mama will say if I fail to keep SJ at the furthest end of the friend zone).
I’ve got absolutely nothing on this one. How did I even end up in this position? I’m a decent-lookin’ dude, but TWO gorgeous girls wanting the J-Mac?
I can’t even handle it, Martin.
Excerpt copyright © 2017 by Andrea Livingstone. Published by Crown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.
Learn More About Nic Stone
Nic Stone is a native of Atlanta and a Spelman College graduate. After working extensively in teen mentoring and living in Israel for a few years, she returned to the United States to write full-time. Dear Martin, her first novel, is loosely based on a series of true events involving the shooting deaths of unarmed African American teenagers. Shaken by the various responses to these incidents—and to the pro-justice movement that sprang up as a result—Stone began the project in an attempt to examine current affairs through the lens of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings. You can find her fangirling over her husband and sons on Twitter and Instagram or on her website.
Books & Resources Mentioned in Nic’s Episode:
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Gossip Girl Series by Cecily von Ziegesar
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
The Hunger Game Series by Suzanne Collins
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Killers of the Dream by Lillian Smith
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Black Box Anthology by Shane Jiraiya Cummings