Today is the release day of Kaleidoscope, an anthology of diverse contemporary YA fantasy and science fiction stories edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios.
From the Blurb:
What do a disabled superhero, a time-traveling Chinese-American figure skater, and a transgendered animal shifter have in common? They’re all stars of Kaleidoscope stories!
Kaleidoscope collects fun, edgy, meditative, and hopeful YA science fiction and fantasy with diverse leads. These twenty original stories tell of scary futures, magical adventures, and the joys and heartbreaks of teenage life.
Featuring New York Times bestselling and award winning authors along with newer voices:
Garth Nix, Sofia Samatar, William Alexander, Karen Healey, E.C. Myers, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Ken Liu, Vylar Kaftan, Sean Williams, Amal El-Mohtar, Jim C. Hines, Faith Mudge, John Chu, Alena McNamara, Tim Susman, Gabriela Lee, Dirk Flinthart, Holly Kench, Sean Eads, and Shveta Thakrar.
Shveta Thakrar, author of the Kaleidoscope story “Krishna Blue”, is here to tell us a little about her story:
A kaleidoscope is a thing that twists colors into beautiful mosaics, each one different and lasting only as long as the object chamber isn’t turned again. Ephemeral but gorgeous. I’ve always loved them. I’ve also always loved colors themselves, always imagined being able to ingest them, to slice myself a piece of cerulean sky and crunch it between my teeth like rock candy, to gulp down the sweet-tart mango juice of a setting sun. So it only makes sense that I would eventually write a story about a color vampire.
But that ache for color isn’t the only thing that led to this story. It’s a tale about many types of hunger, one of them the desire to belong. You see, I grew up in a small farm town in the American Midwest where difference was not exactly welcome. A girl with brown skin and a name that wasn’t Greek or Anglo in origin didn’t belong, and my teenage insecurity and lack of self-esteem did nothing to help me fit in. In short, I was miserable.
There’s nothing like being in a small school in a small town that seems like the whole world when you’re trapped in it. I wanted so badly to have friends, to go to parties, to be asked out. To feel like I mattered. Instead, I was told how ugly and stupid I was, mocked when I didn’t understand social cues and games, or by kinder people, simply left out. Ignored. I was so very hungry for something more. Starving, even.
I wished so fervently to be white with blue eyes so there would be a place for me. When I started writing, I wrote about characters like that, because they were the ones stories happened to. It never occurred to me that I had made my own brown skin an issue to be addressed in the novel of my life. Looking back, it tears my heart in two. No one should ever feel like that about any part of their identity. And for that to change, we have to change the stories we tell, to stop putting emphasis on the wrong things and framing them as weird and strange. We have to turn the spotlight onto the characters we usually leave in the shadows.
It felt natural to channel that dark time in my life into Neha’s character. She wants to be an artist against her parents’ wishes. She also really wants to belong. She hungers for it. Yet she doesn’t know how to make that happen, not with her family and not with her classmates, and she’s suffering as a result. When she discovers her color magic, it seems like a way to compensate for all her problems. A way to be special.
But it was important to me that those problems not include being of South Asian heritage. That’s just one part of who she is, one part of her family’s worldview, one thing that shapes her. She’s a teen like any other, trying to find her way in a world where she doesn’t quite fit. Like I was. Like you might be right now.
She just happens to be able to eat the colors out of things while she does it, that’s all.
Thank you, Shveta!
If you want to find out more about Kaleidoscope, you can read what Alisa and Julia had to say about the project during its development here.
Kaleidoscope is now available for purchase internationally, with a separate release date in Australia on the 1st October 2014.
About the Author:
Shveta Thakrar is a writer of South Asian–flavored fantasy, social justice activist, and part-time nagini. She draws on her heritage, her experience growing up with two cultures, and her love of myth to spin stories about spider silk and shadows, magic and marauders, and courageous girls illuminated by dancing rainbow flames. When not writing, Shveta makes things out of glitter and paper and felt, devours books, daydreams, bakes sweet treats, travels, and occasionally even practices her harp.