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Dhonielle Clayton: The Art of Inclusion

Listen to Dhonielle Clayton: The Art of Inclusion

Photograph of Dhonielle Clayton and Melissa Keil

Melissa Keil and Dhonielle Clayton at the Wheeler Centre

In a response to a reader’s letter, YA author Malinda Lo once wrote, ‘Diversity is not important. Diversity is reality. Human beings are not all the same.’ If books function as tools of empathy, what happens when we never see ourselves in them, let alone at the centre of a story? How can we support and encourage real representation in our literature, especially for younger readers?

Dhonielle Clayton is a bestselling author of YA fiction, including The Belles and The Everlasting Rose. She’s a former teacher and librarian. And she’s the COO of We Need Diverse Books, the US-based campaign for a more inclusive and representative literary milieu. The movement began as a hashtag, went viral, then formalised into a non-profit in order to methodically press for progress.

Clayton joins host Melissa Keil to talk about her writing, as well as the importance of Own Voices stories, and some of the problems with traditional publishing models. She highlights ways these models can shift while still retaining the crucial ability to connect with readers, and considers how we can create a more equitable and exciting literary culture.

Who?

Portrait of Dhonielle Clayton

Dhonielle Clayton

Dhonielle is an author, a former librarian, COO of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books, and co-founder of Cake Literary, a creative kitchen whipping up decadent - and decidedly diverse - literary confections for middle grade, young adult, and women's fiction readers.

The dazzling instant New York Times bestseller, The Belles, was published last year to rave reviews. The sequel to the acclaimed The Belles, Everlasting Rose is out in March 2019.

Portrait of Melissa Keil

Melissa Keil

Melissa Keil is a writer and children’s editor. She has lived in Minnesota, London and the Middle East, and now resides in her hometown of Melbourne.

Her debut YA novel, Life in Outer Space was the inaugural winner of the Ampersand Prize, and was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, the CBCA Book of the Year (Older Readers) and the Gold Inky awards.

She is the author of The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl and The Secret Science of Magic, and her short story, 'Sundays', is featured in Begin, End, Begin, a #LoveOzYA collection.

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