Shannon Gibney is the author of See No Color, drawn from her life as a transracial adoptee, which won the Minnesota Book Award and was hailed by Kirkus as “an exceptionally accomplished debut” and by Publishers Weekly as “an unflinching look at the complexities of racial identity.” In her latest novel, Dream Country, she writes of the nightmarish spiral of death and exile connecting America and Africa, and of how one determined young dreamer tries to break free and gain control of her destiny.
Shannon’s episode is deeply eye-opening and informative as we go into the details about writing her newest novel, from research to the challenges she faced, and we discuss transracial adoption along with her previous novel. We also touch on the editor and author relationship and how Shannon’s dynamic with her editor flourishes her own writing. A must-listen for every storyteller.
Books & Resources Mentioned in Shannon’s Episode:
Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route by Saidiya Hartman
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Check out these highlights:
- How “Dream Country” changed Shannon’s writing life and personal life
- We discuss transracial adoption and her novel “See No Color“
- How Shannon grappled with the representational issues that came out throughout writing “Dream Country” specifically in regards to the use of Liberian and Liberian, American English language
- Shannon shares the heavy challenges she had to face throughout writing her newest novel
- We deep dive into the research process for “Dream Country”
- Shannon shares an eye-opening takeaway about working with the right editor
- Taking risks as a writer
“Some stories pick you and other stories you pick.”
“Yes, these chasms are here but there are other ways to respond to trauma than just chasms and silence.”
“I understand genre very well, but I just generally don’t care if you call it YA fiction, literary fiction, and if you call something of mine a memoir. And with that, when I look at what I produce, what I write, I see that it also is intentionally pushing up against genre boundaries.”
Say ‘Hi’ to Shannon Gibney!
Learn More About “Dream Country”
The heartbreaking story of five generations of young people from a single African-and-American family pursuing an elusive dream of freedom.
“Gut wrenching and incredible.”— Sabaa Tahir #1 New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes
“This novel is a remarkable achievement.”—Kelly Barnhill, New York Times bestselling author and Newbery medalist
“Beautifully epic.”—Ibi Zoboi, author American Street and National Book Award finalist
Dream Country begins in suburban Minneapolis at the moment when seventeen-year-old Kollie Flomo begins to crack under the strain of his life as a Liberian refugee. He’s exhausted by being at once too black and not black enough for his African American peers and worn down by the expectations of his own Liberian family and community. When his frustration finally spills into violence and his parents send him back to Monrovia to reform school, the story shifts. Like Kollie, readers travel back to Liberia, but also back in time, to the early twentieth century and the point of view of Togar Somah, an eighteen-year-old indigenous Liberian on the run from government militias that would force him to work the plantations of the Congo people, descendants of the African American slaves who colonized Liberia almost a century earlier. When Togar’s section draws to a shocking close, the novel jumps again, back to America in 1827, to the children of Yasmine Wright, who leave a Virginia plantation with their mother for Liberia, where they’re promised freedom and a chance at self-determination by the American Colonization Society. The Wrights begin their section by fleeing the whip and by its close, they are then the ones who wield it. With each new section, the novel uncovers fresh hope and resonating heartbreak, all based on historical fact.
In Dream Country, Shannon Gibney spins a riveting tale of the nightmarish spiral of death and exile connecting America and Africa, and of how one determined young dreamer tries to break free and gain control of her destiny.
Learn More About Shannon Gibney
Shannon Gibney is an author and university professor. Her novel See No Color, drawn from her life as a transracial adoptee, won the Minnesota Book Award and was hailed by Kirkus as “an exceptionally accomplished debut” and by Publishers Weekly as “an unflinching look at the complexities of racial identity.” Her essay “Fear of a Black Mother” appears in the anthology A Good Time for the Truth. Dream Country, her latest novel, will be released in September 2018. She lives with her two Liberian-American children in Minneapolis, Minnesota.