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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Young Adult Teen (almost) Tuesday-v


I've been posting about Young Adult writing for four weeks now, and I've focused on intercultural themes. Well, here's another book in a series of books that have intercultural relationships at their core--two of them are just for a slightly younger reader; one is an adult book. However, I'd like to feature them here anyway on this Tuesday because of their related theme.

I met the author, FREDDIE REMZA, a few years ago at the SCBWI conference in New York, and she impressed the heck out of me with her interest and full-throttle drive in this business of writing for young readers. And I think we connected because we both love to travel. She was also a great companion in the Big Apple, and we've kept in touch. So today I'd like for you to get to know Freddie and find out about her books.

 Hereeee's Freddie!



Okay, now that I have your attention…I’m Freddie Remza, author of the middle reader, The Journey to Mei, its YA sequel, Ride the Wave, and the recently published adult novel, The Orchid Bracelet

 I love traveling.  I love being taken out of my comfort zone and placed in a spot on the globe where I’ve never been, consuming things I never imagined could be eaten, and talking to people who dress differently than me and live in houses I’ve seen in the National Geographic.  I don’t want a replica, a simulation, the Disney version.  I want the real thing.  I’ve always been like that. 

When I was an elementary teacher, I noticed that kids from other countries knew more about us than our children knew about them.  That bothered me and so I set off on my own private mission to change that.  The world map had a prime location in the front center of the classroom.  I continuously pulled it down to perhaps explain the location of the recently erupted volcano or to compare the desert communities of the world.  One of my favorite quotes is by Rudyard Kipling.  He wrote, “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”  So after retirement, I came up with this excellent idea of joining the two…traveling and writing stories that will not only entertain, but also let kids know where a plane ride can take you.  My goal was to create a storyline where these settings could naturally unfold.  They would contain real, live-sounding people with everyday problems and situations to resolve. 

THE JOURNEY TO MEI is about an American family who decides to adopt a child from China.  Their 10-year-old birth child is not too keen on that; that is, not at first.  So off I went to China to learn about the country, visit an actual orphanage, talk to the people about the one child policy, and use what I learned in my writing.  As it turned out, there was a need for this type of story.  This middle reader not only became a teacher read-aloud, but was also used by adopting families.  They found it to be a sensitive vehicle that opened up conversation between family members and the adopted child. 

But my young readers were not satisfied.  They wanted to know what happened after the story ended.  Oh, the emails I received!  They loved the family and didn’t want them to disappear, and quite frankly, I also became a little attached.  So back to the laptop I went and the sequel, RIDE THE WAVE, was born.  This book has the family moving to Cape Town, South Africa.  Our 10-year-old birth child is now 15 and simply does not want to leave her friends, her activities, her comfortable life…not even for a year.  And so, the theme of a teen adjusting to change seemed pretty evident, as well as issues of bullying and harassment.  Halfway through the story I joined my pretend family as they made that long flight over the Atlantic.  What’s an author to do?  I learned first-hand about this country—the apartheid, effects of global warming, Cape of Good Hope—and used them as needed; much like a well-crafted jigsaw puzzle.

On the other hand, THE ORCHID BRACELET forced me to come up with a different set of people.  There I was in Vietnam running around snapping photos, filling two notebooks with observations that were insignificant to the average tourist.  You see, I wasn’t a tourist; I was a traveler.  There is a difference.  I made note of everything from the duct tape covering the slit on a vinyl couch inside a Vietnamese home, to the gravel on the pathway that a barefooted child walked upon as she carried her younger brother on her back.  But it wasn’t until an unexpected conversation I had with a young Vietnamese teen that I realized I needed to go in a different direction with my story.  That’s what experiencing the setting first hand will do.  And when that last page has been read, if the reader feels a little stirring inside that makes him sit and think about things…well, then my job was done correctly.
   

“The Orchid Bracelet” by Freddie Remza
Available on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Kindle
   
                                                                     

23 comments:

  1. Thanks for hosting Freddie! How interesting that you've been able to combine your passion for traveling with your books. I also like that your genres change as your characters grow older. Best of luck with all three novels! Julie

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    1. Thanks for your visit, Julie. Freddie's a powerhouse when it comes to travel and writing and making them work together.

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  2. These sound great! I totally agree that we need to teach American kids MUCH more about other countries. I did that with my boys by taking them to India, China, Russia, Germany and lots of other places. It's sooooo valuable. Freddie, keep up with your noble work!

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    1. It is noble work, Catherine. You're so right. And you're doing your share in shattering the American ethnocentric world view! Congratulations.

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    3. Thank you, Catherine. How lucky your boys were to travel! I,too, made a point of installing the love of travel in my own now grown children.

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  3. Thank you, Lee, for shining the spotlight on my journey. It's amazing how supportive you are towards your fellow author friends. I,too, smile when I think back to that time in NYC at the SCBWI. It was such a motivating experience.
    Julie, thank you for your warm comments. Freddie

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    1. It's great to have you here, Freddie. I think you and your books deserve the spotlight.

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  4. Wow! Freddie sounds like an inspirational person. I love the way she was able to incorporate other countries and cultures into her books. What a great way for children to learn about other places and people. I haven't read any of these books, yet- but they sound great and I hope to read them soon!

    ~Jess
    http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com/

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  5. I've always loved learning about other cultures. What a great subject to write fiction in Freddie. I'll make note of your books for my nieces' upcoming birthdays.

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  6. Thanks for introducing us to Freddie. I'm going to look up these books.

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  7. Thank you,everyone,for your encouragement. Means a lot.

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  8. Interesting! More books to add to the to-be-read pile. : )

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  9. Hey Freddie. I love that one of your books is about moving to South Africa, since a lot of us South Africans immigrate to the US, Canada, Australia or Europe. What did you think of my country?

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    1. Hi Misha, Absolutely loved it. Pretty much toured the whole eastern section with a lot of time in Cape Town (a well-kept secret). Where in S.Af are you from?

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    2. When you can't travel, pick up a book and go. These books seem perfect for this. Thanks. Peggy

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  10. Hi Freddie! These books sound amazing!

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  11. Lee! thanks for hosting Freddie. Freddie, your books sound like great reads!

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  12. Thank you, everyone. As you all know, this whole thing called writing is a process and a labor of love!

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  13. It's been an exciting few days with Freddie's visit. Here's to more wonderful books for young readers, especially those that elevate cultural awareness.

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  14. Lee, I finally posted the Versatile award and mixed it all up with the tag party-ack. Anyway, I mentioned you, and linked back to your blog!

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  15. These books look great! Thanks so much for sharing them, Lee.

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  16. Love these teen books. Thanks so much for sharing about them!

    Riya.

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