If I’m being honest I’m still in a bit of shock and disbelief that this happened…
The Black Book Blog is so amazed to say that we were in conversation with the incredible and talented authors of Whiteout and Blackout: Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk and Nicola Yoon.
Atlanta is blanketed with snow just before Christmas, but the warmth of young love just might melt the ice in this novel of interwoven narratives, Black joy, and cozy, sparkling romance—by the same unbeatable team of authors who wrote the New York Times bestseller Blackout!
As the city grinds to a halt, twelve teens band together to help a friend pull off the most epic apology of her life. But will they be able to make it happen, in spite of the storm?
No one is prepared for this whiteout. But then, we can’t always prepare for the magical moments that change everything.
From the bestselling, award-winning, all-star authors who brought us Blackout—Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon—comes another novel of Black teen love, each relationship within as unique and sparkling as Southern snowflakes.
I’m still reeling from the fact I got to speak to all of these authors about Whiteout. Not only did I love Blackout but Whiteout was truly just as great as the first one. Additionally, I have loved and admired all of these authors. Every single one of them has made head waves in the YA genre, becoming talented titans in the industry for their works.
Firstly, I have to say a massive thank you to Jada and Rishma at Wearmedia Hive for organising this interview as well as the authors for taking time out of their very busy work schedules to let me interview them, even if it was just for ten minutes! This was truly a dream come true and words can’t express how much this interview meant to me.
Firstly, what was the writing/structuring process like for Whiteout? And how did you decide which characters stories would go where?
Ashley: So the way that we did it was that everybody wrote their own chapters separately.
At the very beginning, we decided that the overall structure of the book would be Stevie and Sola as the central characters. And that all the other characters would be supporting this big apology Stevie wanted to make.
Once we had decided that, we all individually wrote our chapters. Then Dhonielle and I sat down to make a google document to decide when it was going to be snowing and when the snow would stop. And how that would then best serve the overall structure of the story. As there were certain things that need to happen when it’s actively snowing and certain things that need to happen when it stops.
Then we sort of used that as a map and slotted everyone’s stories into the best places where it made sense! There was some moving things around, of course, but for the most part, we ended up in the same order that we had originally planned!
What’s the best thing about writing/working with each other on a book like this?
Tiffany: I think the best thing is the fact that we get to write with our friends!
I always say that this is one of the best group projects I’ve ever worked on and being able to write with you friends and knowing how talented all of your friends are brings out the best in you as well.
Growing up, for me, I didn’t really have much representation when it came to Black love or Black joy in general, what does writing books like Whiteout and Blackout mean to you all?
Nicola: I think we’d all say that one of our favourite parts of writing or after you’ve put something into the world is the effect it has on people.
And so, I get the best letters and I know all these ladies do too. From people who say that it just means so much to see themselves or people that look like themselves in books.
And it’s hard to overstate the impact that it has on you. Writing is lonely. You’re in your room and you don’t know if it’s going to make a difference…but then someone does. A girl comes up to you or you get a long, long, LONG heart-felt email from someone telling you just how much it means to them.
And you know, you can survive anything if you get one of those emails.
It’ll completely uplift your whole day…it’ll uplift your month!
What’s the main message about love that each of you would want your readers to take away from these books? And Black love specifically?
Nic: That there’s no one size fits all. I think that’s our message.
There’s no one Black experience. There’s no one type of Black person.
Black people are not a monolith. Black love isn’t monolithic either.
We’re really intentional about the stories we tell, especially in these books we’re writing together. And making sure that they are as inclusive of as many experiences as possible because Black intersects with a lot of other things.
Black intersects with gender identity. It intersects with sexual orientation. It intersects with religious identity. It even intersects with ethnicity.
And making sure that we show these kids as actual human beings that are experiencing the one thing that literally every human being on earth wants: love.
That is the most important thing for us…so that as many people as possible can find themselves in these stories.
What advice would each of you give to any aspiring YA romance writers out there?
Angie: I would say:
- Don’t worry about trends in the industry as that’s something you can’t control.
- Don’t aim for perfection because perfect doesn’t exist. Aim for progress.
- Know that you may get a lot of “No’s” along the way but it only takes one “Yes” to change everything.
I think all of us here have gotten plenty of rejections but we’re here! And that goes for any writers too.
But especially for young Black romance writers know that this industry isn’t always as welcoming to you as it should be.
But, we’re still kicking down doors…building our own tables – forget asking for seats at their tables!
So just know that there’s a community here available to you and supportive of you. We became friends because when we walked into rooms we looked for someone like us and saw we were the only ones there.
Dhonielle and Nicola debuted in the same year and they were the only two Black women debuts in their year. Me, Nic, Tiffany and Ashley were all set to debut in the same year as well and we found each other.
So know that you will find your people. You will find your support and that goes a long way.
Just start working. Keep going. And don’t worry about how many “no’s” you get.
You’re gonna get there. Hopefully.
So this one is a bit of a fun question – which two characters would each of you happily be trapped inside with during a snow storm and why?
Dhonielle: I would want to be stuck inside with Mason. I think he’s real cute and Ava has a problem. Mason, what’s up?!
Nic: I want Kaz and Jimi.
Tiffany: That was actually my answer too so I’ll be with Nic!
Angie: For me, Lil Kenzey but I’m always like when it comes to a rapper…you’ve got me.
Nic: I can see Lil Kenzey and Jordyn having a good time.
Ashley: That’s true! I think I’d do Omari because he seems real sweet and playful.
Dhonielle: And Sola would be too much drama for you!
Ashley: Yeah, way too much drama for me. Like we’re too similar so that would just not work out!
Nicola: I think I’d like Lil Kenzey and Stevie because I feel like I need to have a talk with Stevie. Just to sit her down!
Which part was your favourite to write or work on?
Nic: I’ll answer this.
Dhonielle: She’s trying to get us to reveal our secrets! Very cleverly!
Nic: Whilst we’re not going to reveal who wrote what, I will say as the setting editor I had to go through and comb through really intensely all the Atlanta stuff. My favourite part was when…
Oo see I don’t want to spoil things.
Okay so there’s two characters who are trapped in the mall. And my favourite part was when they come out and make a discovery…because it’s so Atlanta.
What happens to them is so Atlanta! And I finished that chapter and was just like this is my favourite!
Thank you so much again to all the incredible authors of Whiteout: Dhonielle Clayton, Nicola Yoon, Ashley Woodfolk, Tiffany D Jackson, Nic Stone and Angie Thomas, for allowing me to interview them.
Listening back and writing this up actually made me smile and laugh so much. They’re all such incredible beautiful women who have so much amazing advice and love to give.
Whiteout is just a testament to that.
The book is out now in paperback across the UK and hardback in the US. And both covers are stunning!
This book will undoubtedly have you hooked throughout. I’ve linked my review to Blackout further up in the post but take this interview as your sign to pick up Whiteout too!
Liz Dexter says
I’ve added both of these to my wishlist, and what a great interview. A very interesting way to write but it’s obviously working!
Ah thank you! Yes definitely I think they’re going to continue writing beautiful stories!