Hello everyone! As I mentioned a couple of posts back, I am very excited to be a part of blog tour for Timekeeper by Tara Sim. As part of the tour, I got to interview the amazing Tara Sim. Tara, if you’re reading this, thank you for taking your time to answer the questions! I also would like to thank Bianca for organizing the blog tour, my fellow book club members at FBCYA, Sky Pony Press, and Tara herself for this opportunity.
Lack of representation is always one thing fictions, especially Science Fiction and Fantasy, kept getting called on. I am a big fan of fantasy books, and even as a fan, I could admit that it’s true. Science Fiction and Fantasy, especially what’s known as epic fantasy, is still dominated by white straight cis male authors. In term of characters, the existence of proper POC representation and own voices in mainstream SFF genre still needs to be improved. That is why when I had the opportunity to interview Tara, I decided to tackle this lack of diversity issue. In the interview, Tara explained about her view on diversity in SFF fictions, the danger of misrepresentation, the importance of #ownvoices stories, and give us some recommendations for diverse books.
|Timekeeper (Tara Sim)|
|Publisher||Sky Pony Press|
|Category | Genre||Young Adult | Science Fiction, Historical, Fantasy|
Two o’clock was missing.
In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.
It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.
And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.
But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.
The stunning first novel in a new trilogy by debut author Tara Sim, Timekeeper is perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Victoria Schwab.
Q: Many people called out fantasy genre as lacking in diversity. As a writer, what’s your opinion on this?
Tara: I would agree. Growing up, I mostly read things like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and The Wheel of Time. While they were great, they were also sorely lacking in diversity. It wasn’t until I got older that I began to find more of the stories I wanted as a kid, especially now when we have new young adult fantasy books that tackle this wonderfully. It impacted my writing, too, because when I was younger I tended to write the traditionally white, straight, able bodied fantasy I grew up with. Now that I feel more comfortable not only in my identity, but also tackling different perspectives, I can’t imagine writing any other way.
Q: From your experience, which one is more hurtful/dangerous, misrepresentation or lack of representation?
Tara: While both of these are pretty harmful, I think misrepresentation is the greater of two evils. I didn’t find any books that represented my identity as a kid, and as a result it took a long time to actually settle into that identity. However, if I had read books that grossly misrepresented me, I would have probably thought there was something wrong with me, or maybe I wasn’t living my life the way I should. Misrepresentation can be extremely harmful in young adult novels in particular, because that’s the time you’re beginning to understand who you are or who you would like to be.
This is why research is so important. If you’re writing from outside your experience, you owe it to your readers to do the best you possibly can to understand what they might be going through. First, ask yourself why you want to write from this point of view. If you feel like you can’t, or that it’s too much work, then you probably shouldn’t be writing from that perspective. But if you take the time and effort, and use primary resources and sensitivity readers, hopefully you’ll craft a respectful narrative.
I’ll also say, very quickly, that this is why #ownvoices stories are so important. Nothing will ever compare to finding yourself in a story written by someone who shares that story with you.
Q: Somehow related to question 2, do you ever worry whether the characters you write are accurate representations? If yes, how do you handle it?
Tara: Oh yes, all the time. I write from experience when it comes to certain characters, but the ones outside of that experience require a lot more care and consideration. Like I said above, first I ask myself why, then I go about doing the research. And actually, that worry is a good thing. If you feel afraid in making sure a character is represented well, that means you’re going to do whatever you can to nail that representation. You shouldn’t settle for anything less.
Q: I like how Timekeeper is not just historical time-manipulation fantasy (that’s a super awesome concept by the way), but it has LGBT pairing in Victorian era. Do you have specific reason to choose this combination, whether it’s Victorian attitude towards gay couple or something else?
Tara: Honestly, it was how the idea came to me. My friend had given me a link to a story contest for strange love stories, and when I got the idea for Timekeeper that same day, I was struck by two things at once: the main couple would be a human/non-human, and they’d both be boys. I had written queer characters before, but never in an alternative historical setting, so it took some research to understand the implications of this romance within the universe I created. I actually touch on this in my author’s note in the back of the book, but I purposefully shifted the Victorian attitude towards homosexuality in order to fit the story I wanted to tell. There’s still prejudice, but considerably more freedom to love who you want to love.
Q:The unique thing about your pairing is one of them is not even human. Is it challenging to write about romance between a human and a spirit?
Tara: It is! I’ve never written a couple like them before, so it took several drafts to really understand how it would work. It was mostly trying to understand how Colton worked, because there’s a lot to keep in mind with him in a scene. For instance, he doesn’t breathe, or eat, or have a heartbeat, so the traditional character movements I use—swallowing, sighing, etc.—don’t apply to Colton. They find a way to make it work, though.
Q: Thank you for answering my questions. Last one! Do you have any recommendation for diverse fantasy books?
Tara: Definitely! Here are some recent ones I’ve loved:
– The Reader by Traci Chee
– Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
– The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
– The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
– The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
– The Weight of Feathers and When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
– Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
– Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
– Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
– Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
About The Author
Tara Sim is a YA author found in the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not writing about magic, clocks, and boys, she drinks tea, wrangles cats, and sings opera.
Tara grew up in California, but braved the elements of Virginia to study English/Creative Writing at Hollins University.
Half-Indian and full geek, she eats too many samosas and awkwardly dances to Bhangra music.
TIMEKEEPER (Sky Pony Press, Fall ’16) is her debut YA novel.
Links of Tara’s social media accounts
Official Website: http://www.tarasim.com/
Make sure to check out Bianca’s masterpost for links to reviews, interviews, and other great stuff posted by my fellow FBCYA-ers.
Last, but not least, you can win a copy of Timekeeper (US and Canada only, sorry!) by taking part in the rafflecopter giveaway below.
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3 thoughts on “FBCYA Blog Tour: Diversity Talk with Tara Sim, Author of Timekeeper”
Oh gosh Windie, I loved this interview. I loved that you took the opportunity to ask Tara some questions about diversity! It’s awesome that we are having authors talk frankly and honestly about diversity. Her answers are lovely too.
As for Timekeeper – I’ve ‘wishlisted’ this book at my library, so I look forward to reading it! I read another review for it the other day, and it sounds so promising. Thank you for this great post! 😀
Thank you, CW! I’m sorry it took me forever to reply.
I haven’t finished Timekeeper, but I was promised adorableness and all that by my fellow book club friends. 😛
Tara was one of the authors that speak up for diversity and especially ownvoices on twitter, which was why I decided to go ahead and ask her these questions. With what’s been happening on SFF genre (especially adult SFF) for so long, I think now more than ever, we have no more excuses for the lack of representation in fantasy books.