The Edge of the Forest: In workshops you've conducted you've spoken about some of the mistakes writers make when attempting to write multicultural fiction. Could you give a couple of examples?
Holly Thompson: Perhaps the most serious mistake writers make is not knowing a culture deeply enough; this can result in a book full of clichés--in setting, characterization, and dialogue. Another mistake is not doing enough research and relying on rather narrow personal experience. A writer doesn't need to be a native of a culture to write about a culture; research with primary resources, substantial direct experience and interviews with experts can enable a writer to create an authentic story.
Holly Thompson Interview in January's The Edge of the Forest
"Holly Thompson’s The Wakame Gatherers is a marvel..."-Allen Say
Holly Thompson has lived for many years in Kamakura, Japan, where she has often gathered wakame with her children and observed the harvesting of cultivated wakame. Raised in New England, she earned her M.A. in fiction writing from New York University and now teaches creative writing at Yokohama City University. She writes for both children and adults and is the Regional Advisor of the Tokyo chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her novel Ash is also set in Japan.
Kazumi Wilds was born in Tokyo studied art at the Women’s College of Art in Tokyo and at the University of Minnesota. She has illustrated three other children’s books and teaches art when she is not painting. Kazumi now lives in the mountains of western Japan, near the Sea of Japan, with her children, dog, and cats. She remembers her many trips to Kamakura fondly.
Shen’s Books is a publisher of multicultural children’s literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia.
Through books, we can share a world a stories, building greater understanding and tolerance within our increasingly diverse communities as well as throughout our continuously shrinking globe.