Monthly Archives: July 2013

on difference and creativity

I am back from ALA and am in the midst of another transition at my work, but I have a few quick bits of news. The first is that Charm & Strange got a wonderful review in Publishers Weekly on Monday. Here’s a highlight:

“Kuehn’s philosophical and emotionally raw debut probes the murky circumstances surrounding a damaged boy’s sense of estrangement…The caustic voice, mysteries surrounding Win, and pervasive sense of dread should have readers racing to the end as Kuehn constructs a persuasive portrait of the lasting effects of trauma—namely, the ways it can result in a profound disassociation from reality.”

Next, I am so excited to be participating in TWO amazing local teen writing workshops in the upcoming week. The first is with Erica Lorraine Scheidt, who is single-handedly putting on an amazing program in downtown Berkeley at the new YMCA teen center. I did a guest lecture with her weekly drop-in program in the spring and it was such an incredibly vibrant atmosphere, filled with diverse, talented, and inspiring young writers. My workshop this week will be on world building, which is something I find relevant to all genres and which I approach from a psychological vantage point. I can’t wait.

Next week, I’m thrilled to be a part of the teen writing workshop that is happening at the San Leandro Public Library. I’ll have to opportunity to talk a bit about my own writing process as well as my book, but I also really want to connect with the teens and learn more about their writing and inspiration.

To put into context how deeply meaningful these workshops are for me personally, when I was at the ALA conference, I was fortunate enough to connect with two librarians who run the Library Incubator project, which is a site that is dedicated to exploring the cross section of libraries and creativity. Since then, I’ve been reflecting on how fundamental my own neighborhood library (Claremont Branch of the Berkeley Public Library) was to me when I was growing up. The books and librarians there not only helped connect me to different worlds, they helped me think differently and supported my exploration of my own differences. To be honest, as a kid I didn’t always appreciate being different. I’m mixed race (black/Hispanic) and I was adopted by Jewish and Irish Catholic parents, and really, I’ve spent my whole life being reminded of where I don’t fit in. It can be both exhausting and despairing at times.

But now that I’m older, I understand that the freedom to be and feel different is a gift. It’s one I’ve come to appreciate and one in which I often find my own creative drive. So it is now very special for me to have the opportunity to hep other young people find their voices and to explore their own very unique points of view.

Like I said, I can’ t wait!