Thursday, June 18, 2015

Diversity & Interracial Romance by Chris Ledbetter, Author of Drawn

I'd like to extend a warm welcome to Chris Ledbetter, author of Drawn, a new YA contemporary fantasy adventure.

Diversity and Interracial Romance by Chris Ledbetter

Diversity is a topic near and dear to my heart. I realize I’m not alone in this but the traditional publishing industry as a whole hasn’t exactly caught up to demand. I certainly believe that everyone should be able to read stories about characters that are like they are. It’s not necessary, mind you. There’s nothing wrong with reading about characters that are unlike you. How else can you learn about other cultures and develop tolerance? But accepting racially diverse stories is a subtle move that helps readers to know they matter. I applaud Evernight Teen for taking a chance on a young African-American protagonist and his artistic and romantic endeavors as they relate to a young Caucasian girl. After all, romance is romance. Emotions are universally the same for everyone, despite skin color, ethnicity, or nationality.

I attack this concept in the story within the pages of the cursed sketchbook, wherein the citizens are distinguished not by the color of their skin, but by how they were introduced to the world. Those who were sketched in from the outside have more heft, shall we say, than those that were created within the book itself. It’s a complicated concept that is fully explained in the story. But, there are people in Terra Sempre that are as multi-colored as the rainbow.

Along the subject of diversity as it applies to romance, I have seen more ethnically homogenous couples in literature than not, especially in young adult stories. And that’s not to say that there aren’t any out there. I’ve seen some and applaud them. Mostly the ones I’ve seen have been on the adult side of things, not YA. In fact, it’s the young adult market that needs the diversity more than the adult market. We have a duty to pry minds open while they are young and malleable. Open minds are far better than closed minds.

Until recently, it took a handful of courage and conviction to even approach the interracial theme, be it adult or YA. My hope is that one day, it won’t take that same courage and conviction. Interracial romance stories will be so commonplace as to not even raise eyebrows.

I have been in interracial relationships during my life. Gladly. I used to teach in a small city in Virginia wherein they were as common as running water. And now I work in a shopping mall, and every other couple that walks through the corridors is mixed at some level or another. But if you gaze at the shelves in the bookstores, ninety-nine percent (if not higher) of the books in the romance section are homogenous couples. I would love to see shelves that truly reflect our cultural and ethnic melting pot accurately.


Chris Ledbetter

YA Contemporary Fantasy Adventure
Evernight Teen
June 5, 2015

Caught between the sweltering fall landscape of Wilmington, NC beaches and southern illusions and expectations, all sixteen year-old Cameron Shade thinks about is art. That, and for Farrah Spangled to view him as more than just a friend. Cameron longs to win her heart through art.

After several warm interactions with Farrah, including painting together at the beach, Cameron discovers just how complex Farrah’s life is with her boyfriend and her family. Following a tense run-in with Farrah’s father, she forbids Cameron to ever speak to her again, but Cameron’s convinced there’s more behind the request.

To impress Farrah with a last-ditch effort, Cameron sketches her portrait. But the sketchbook he uses hides a dark secret. Farrah’s now in grave danger because the sketch he drew of her siphons her real-life’s soul into the sketchbook. Cameron now has twenty days to extract Farrah. To save her, he must draw himself into the book.

If he fails… they both die.

About the Author

Chris Ledbetter grew up in Durham, NC before moving to Charlottesville, VA in 11th grade. After high school, he attended Hampton University where he promptly "walked-on" to the best drum line in the CIAA. And, without any prior percussion experience. He carried the bass drum for four years, something his back is not very happy about now.

After a change of heart and major, he enrolled in Old Dominion University and earned his degree in Business Administration. He's worked in various managerial and marketing capacities throughout his life. While teaching high school for six years in Culpeper, VA, he taught business management, business law, marketing, and sports marketing, and also coached football.

He has walked the streets of Los Angeles and New York City, waded in the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and climbed Diamond Head crater on Hawaii and rang in the New Year in Tokyo, Japan. But he dreams of one day visiting Greece and Italy.

He's a proud member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and a strong supporter of the Need for Diverse Books. As a self-described, young reluctant reader, he writes young adult stories specifically to reach other reluctant readers. As a participant in the prestigious Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program, he was blessed to be mentored by Suzanne Morgan Williams, 2012 SCBWI member of the year.

He now lives in Wilmington, NC with his family, including three cats.

Connect with Chris:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

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  1. Hello Chris , I have been looking for YA books for my daughters and I to enjoy together. In my normal haunts of historical and paranormal reading I have been looking for more diverse so imagine my surprise when I saw this book :). Needless to say even if I don't have the honor of winning this book , it is on our list! Thank You.

    1. I agree with you- this looks like it will be a great read!

    2. Crystal,
      Thank you for stopping by. In the event you end up reading it, I really hope you enjoy it.



  2. Kimber Leigh Wheaton,

    Thank you so much for hosting me, my book, and my post.




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