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September 22, 2015



I tend to pass over any covers with photographed models because they interfere with my mental picture of the main character and I just don't find them as aesthetically pleasing, and I know a few readers who share that preference. But this post still makes quite a valid point. We need to take steps away from these biases. I know that I still have them even though I'm trying to become more aware of them these last few years, so I appreciate the list of Asian-American authors!

(While it's not the type of cover I like, though, the model on the paperback actually looks quite similar to how I pictured Dashti.)


I love Dashti on the cover! She looks great!


Oh, and I loved both Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and A Single Shard. I'm going to check out Kira-Kira soon. We have the same preferences when it comes to books!


thank you for this post and the rec list, shannon.
those biases are real and it is hard. i have also
personally dedicated myself to reading more
broadly, inclusively, and being more conscious
of my choices.


I just want to add praise for Jenny Han as well. I LOVED "To All The Boys I've Loved Before," but I also fell for "The Summer I Turned Pretty."


I love the covers with painting/ art better than photographs as well.
This is a great post.
This book and Goose Girl are actually tied for my favorite books that you have ever written. (And I love your other books as well!)
This book is fantastic.


Since Book of a Thousand Days is my favorite book by you I'm glad to hear it's one of your favorites too. I love how so much is focused on the relationship between Dashti and Saren and how they grow and change together.

I would add Laurence Yep to your list. He's written everything from historical fiction to science fiction to mysteries and all of it is excellent. Also Ties that Bind and Ties that Break by Lensey Namioka.


I suggest Andrea Cheng’s Shanghai Messenger and Inside and Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai.
I have to say that there’s something special about Lady Saren. I love how devoted Dashti is to her. It reminds me of myself and my best friend.

Meredith A

A few books by Justina Chen (her name appears as Justina Chen Headley on the copies I had):

Girl Overboard - a Chinese girl in the US
North of Beautiful - a white girl, but there is a Chinese love interest, and part takes place in China
Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) - a "hapa" (half Asian, half white) dealing with prejudices from both Asians and white people

She has other books, but I've only read these three.

On another note, I just discovered that several of your books are available in French. Weee!! I already have the French version of Princess Academy, and just now discovered The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, Austenland, Book of a thousand Days, and the Ever After High books in French.

My question is: Do you know if River Secrets and Forest Born are also available in French? I can't find those.

Madysen Holt

Hi Shannon. I have loved each of the books I've read so far. I wasn't able to put Dangerous down. I tried finding your email, but when I clicked on the link, I wasn't able to connect to it. So anyways, my names Mady and for a high school project my English teacher gave me, we had to pick something to do, along with a mentor. I decided to write a book. So favorite authors popped into my head for a mentor, and I thought of you and wanted to contact you. So if there is any way possible that you could get back to me, that would be amazing. Thank you!!!

Meredith Abernathy

Also, I forgot to add, I'm writing my first novel. It's fantasy, but instead of medieval Europe, the time/technology is based on Bronze Age Egypt, and the setting is based on Kenya because I lived there for two years.

Racially, the characters aren't based on any specific peoples in our world. They're "brown," with variations in hair and eye color, except one particular people group with dark hair and skin "lighter than hers." Readers can interpret "brown" however they want, since brown covers a whole lot of skin tones around the whole world. And they can interpret "lighter than hers" however they want.

Too noncommittal on my part? Maybe. But I believe their particular race shouldn't matter that much. It's not the story of a young woman who's East African, or Indian, or South American, etc. It's the story of a person who's herself in her own time and place.

(You'll be glad to know, part of the decision not to make my characters white came from reading all your blog posts about white and male being the default.)


Hi, @Madyson Holt:
Shannon doesn't respond to blog comments. If you have a Twitter account (if you don't, they are very easy to set up), you can try commenting on one of her Tweets and maybe she'll get back to you. But I don't think she gives writing advice often :(
Anyway, just wanted to let you know so you're not sitting around wondering why she hasn't replied.


@Meredith Abernathy, I don’t think that’s being noncommittal. My mom, who happens to be a woman of color, always says that shades of skin don’t really matter, it’s the people who wear the skin that matter. I’ve read books with all sorts of narrators: white, Asian, African-American, Hispanic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or some mixture of two or more. And the truth is, I haven’t ever put down a book because the character was of a different color (I am a half-Asian, half-white Buddhist, btw). If I hate a character, it’s never because of their race or religion.
As a writer myself, I’ve done many variations from the default: Polish Jew, French Protestant, Italian-German atheist, British-Egyptian Muslim, British-Korean Buddhist, Irish Catholic, etc, etc. Before I read Shannon’s posts about diversity, 95% of my characters were either white Americans or Asian-Americans like me. Now I have a truly diverse cast in my books.
Good luck with your story; it sounds cool!


Oh, and I’d like to put in a good word for Grace Lin’s Starry River of the Sky, for readers 8+. It’s a companion novel to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.


I was wondering, Shannon. The German edition has such a gorgeous painted cover with a picture of an Asian girl included. I'm curious: How has that book done? I can't help but wonder if the paperback in the US would do better with that picture. The girl in the photo is beautiful... but somehow the cover doesn't appeal to me as much as the painted cover. I think it's mostly because of the seriousness (which I have to admit is appropriate) in the one. http://sonderbooks.com/blog/?p=28406


I love the cover of the German one. Plus I think it's cool that you wrote a post about translating the book from German to English and vice versa.
P.S. This is Ennagirl, under a new email address. New computer stuff.


Too bad, my parents don’t want me to read Kira-Kira. They tend to oppose my reading anything realistic. (They’d totally freak if they found out about that incident with the school library and a stack of war stories).
I think that’s another form of book discrimination. They have no problem if I want to read a novel about the Bayern-Tiran war in Enna Burning, but they won’t let me read about World War II in Number the Stars. It’s the same concept. War is war.
Sorry for my little rant here, I’m just a little moody because I really wanted to read Kira-Kira.
On the plus side, I’m reading INKHEART by Cornelia Funke!


I wanted to recommend Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada. She is Filipino American, as is her main character in the book. It's excellent.

Justin Bingham

Shannon, I apologize for using the blog to contact you. I tried the email link on your contact and it bounced back. I am actually trying to contact your husband, Dean. He was my last mission companion while serving in Costa Rica many, many years ago! (on another coincidence, my son is currently serving in Paraguay). Anyway, I would really appreciate if you could pass on my email from the log it and have Dean contact me. Thanks, Justin Bingham

Cassie Fox

Great blog post. After reading it, I had a great discussion with my roommate (who just finished reading Book of a Thousand Days for the first time) about race and gender, including our own unconscious biases and the discrimination that we have experienced as women or the limits that are placed on men because of expectations for their gender. Incidentally, the copy of Book of a Thousand Days that I own (and that my roommate just borrowed) is the paperback.

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