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Own Voices: Anna Marie McLemore

Anna-Marie McLemore is a local Mexican-American author who demonstrates that stories can have many facets. Her books are embodied in the current #OwnVoices movement, which embraces much needed perspectives from marginalized voices. She’s been longlisted for the National Book Award in Children’s Literature, and her book WILD BEAUTY was a Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Booklist best book of 2017. Her latest magical realism novel, BLANCA & ROJA, is a reimagining of Snow-White & Rose-Red meets Swan Lake. It not only explores issues related to colorism and gender, but also shows how people can still discover their true selves amid restrictive paradigms.

Blanca & Roja

When did your love of books and writing start?

I’ve always loved stories; my family taught me the love of stories before I even knew how to read. But it took a couple of very dedicated teachers a few years to get me to show my first writing attempts to anyone.

And now, new readers can see themselves in your stories too. BLANCA & ROJA deals with issues associated with gender, identity, and colorism. How did you know this was a story you needed to tell?

“Snow-White & Rose-Red” has always been one of my favorite fairy tales—the bond between the sisters, the bear-prince, the odd psychological twists that glimmer inside the story. But it wasn’t until I embraced my identity as a queer Latina storyteller that I realized how, and how much, I wanted to retell it.

Wild Beauty

Your perspective also gives the story its unique poignancy. What is something you wish people knew about #ownvoices stories?

For every experience, for every community, there’s no single story. We not only need #ownvoices stories, we need many of them in order to reflect our world.

Indeed. What role do you currently see libraries playing in collaborations with authors, and helping readers find books?

The right books make readers. The Little Prince, Like Water for Chocolate, Passing—these are some of the books that made me a reader, because a family member, a teacher, a librarian, took the time to put those books in my hands. Librarians put books that powerful in readers’ hands. Libraries are where so many of us find the books that make us readers. My local library is still where I so often go to find the next book I’ll love.

For more information on Anna-Marie McLemore, feel free to visit her website. Her books are currently on order for the UC Davis Library and can also be found in the UC Davis Campus Bookstore.

Profile written by: Karen McCoy