November was a busy month here at Catalyst/Story Press Africa HQ. Our authors were shining at other blogs and getting stellar reviews for their great work. Meanwhile, our publisher, editor, and general get-things-done-er, Jessica has been pretty busy, too. She’s been donning her cloak (she switched the cape out for it) at readings and conferences across the country in promotion for her new book, Broken Circle (Akashic Books), with (of course) a healthy dose of Catalyst thrown in.
Most recently, Jessica and her co-author (her brother Matt) were at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) conference and the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) in St. Louis. Jessica presented on books and social justice at NCTE, and the duo were also being awesome on a panel at ALAN. And two of our books, We Kiss Them With Rain and Shaka Rising were presented in front of nearly 600 educators at ALAN.
And you know what? You know why we do this thing we do? Why we play with words, arranging and rearranging them, turning them over, just to make sure that for a minute, for a page, for a paragraph, for a sentence someone gets to find themselves in book? I could tell you, but I think Matt said it way better than I could on the panel.
In recounting his struggles with reading as a child and how much teachers, storytellers, and people who love literature can make a difference in helping a kid see themselves in words, Matt (beautifully) said:
“In your classrooms, you are a family. You can help give kids who need it an identity, a story of themselves, that helps them make it.”
That’s why we do it. Every reader was that kid once, and maybe still is. Each of our books, from the darkest crime novel to an educational graphic novel, is about reaching a reader.
One thing I’ve always loved is hearing one of our authors, Martin Steyn (Dark Traces) talk about what got him into writing. It was reading Stephen King and losing himself in that world that made want to create that feeling for someone else. It’s unbearably cool that we get to do that here, that we get to share stories and let storytellers do their thing.