How is your name pronounced?
Are you actually Dutch?
Yes. Born here, raised here, never lived anywhere else, still have 80% of my family plus a fully functional windmill within a ten-minute radius.
Dutch is my first language. Since I had no English family or friends growing up, how I learned to speak English so fluently at a relatively young age is something of a mystery.
(I blame TV and Internet.)
How did you get published in the US?
The same way US authors do: I wrote a book in English, then contacted American literary agents by email until I found someone who wanted to represent me to American publishers.
With the advent of the Internet, your location doesn’t matter much when it comes to getting your book published. Many authors never or rarely meet their agents and editors. It can be occasionally tricky later down the line, when you’re dealing with contracts, taxes, and book promotion, but that’s about it.
It’s a Twitter hashtag I started in September 2015. It’s since taken off and become a common term in discussions of diverse representation in media. For more detail, I’ve put together an #ownvoices information/FAQ page.
Will you refer me to your agent or editor?
I wish I could help, but the answer is no. My agent and editors are flooded in submissions already.
There is good news, though: You don’t need a referral to begin with. Many authors get published without any kind of publishing connections or foot in the door. Querying literary agents still works. The absolute best thing you can do for your book is to do your research about the publishing world and write a good, marketable book.
Will you read my book?
Unfortunately, no. I’m already dreadfully behind when it comes to reading books as it is.
I need to read books to keep up with the market; to see what my friends are writing; to learn from how other authors tackle certain genres or styles; to review or vet for Disability in Kidlit; to critique my friends’ work; to consider for a blurb; and, on rare occasions, purely for fun. I already struggle to stay on top of things, so the last thing I should do is add even more books to read.
I highly encourage you to find critique partners or a group. Having author friends is essential in this business, whether you’re looking for feedback, cheerleading, or both.
Will you blurb my book?
If you have a book contract and the book is up my alley in terms of genre/style/subject, I’ll definitely consider it. I’m particularly interested in supporting marginalized authors.
Please contact my agent with your blurb requests. And remember: if I turn it down, it’s almost certainly because of time issues, rather than anything else. I’m very sorry, but I wish you the absolute best of luck with the book. I’m very excited for you!
Can I have a review copy?
Perhaps! Contact my publisher; they’re in charge of these decisions.
If you contact me directly, I probably won’t be able to help. I only get a limited amount of copies for personal use, and sending them abroad (which is nearly always the case) costs a lot of money. I’d have to spend well over €30 of my own money for each requested book, which I can’t afford. Sorry!
Will your novels be available in my language?
Check out my books’ individual pages! If an edition in your language isn’t listed there, it either means that no such translation is forthcoming, or that we’re still trying to make it happen and I can’t announce it publicly yet. Either way, the page will have all the information I’m able or allowed to give you.
What’s your connection to Disability in Kidlit, We Need Diverse Books, and #ownvoices?
I co-founded Disability in Kidlit in 2013; it’s a resource that discusses the portrayal of disability in children’s literature via reviews, articles, discussions, and more. I’m still actively involved as a senior editor.
I was a team member of We Need Diverse Books from mid-2014 to early 2016; WNDB is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to promoting diverse literature in children’s books.
I coined the hashtag #ownvoices in 2015. It’s a descriptive term, not an organization or movement.
Although Disability in Kidlit and We Need Diverse Books are friendly and I’ve been involved with both, they have no connection to each other. Similarly, although both sites sometimes refer to #ownvoices, it is not affiliated with either.
Is The Art of Saving the World a sequel? Is it set in the same world as any of your other books?
No; it’s a fully standalone novel set in its own world.
How do you identify?
This seems like a strange question, but having this answer out in the open can be useful for those seeking to promote diverse content or who want to be careful not to misidentify someone in an article or discussion.
I identify as a white, Dutch, cisgender, disabled/autistic, bisexual/biromantic/queer, atheist woman, and I use she/her pronouns.
I’m autistic / I have an autistic relative, and I need advice.
I am flattered that people feel comfortable coming to me with these questions, and I sincerely wish I could help. Unfortunately, I can’t. I can’t suggest resources, I can’t help with diagnosis, and I can’t help with questions about problems or symptoms. I am not a doctor, therapist, or any other kind of medical health professional.
If anything I’ve written about has been helpful to you, whether it’s in an article or in a novel, I’m delighted! I really hope you’ll be able to find further help if you need it. But I’m just a writer talking about fictional representation and my own personal experiences; that doesn’t qualify me to be any kind of support for other, real-life individuals. For me to give you one-on-one advice would be irresponsible.
Please find professional help. If this is inaccessible or unsafe, there are many websites that offer advice and resources. They’ve been invaluable to me over the years, and I hope they will prove just as useful to you. I’m so sorry I can’t help further.
I have an autistic character in my book. Can you give me feedback?
Depending on my schedule, I sometimes act as paid consultant for contracted books from major publishers with autistic characters. This can take the form of answering questions, discussing plot elements, or giving feedback on novels.
No matter the extent of my involvement, I won’t accept responsibility for accusations of poor representation. This subject is very subjective and I’m giving my personal opinion and advice, nothing more.
Feel free to contact me with details. The more time I have to provide feedback, the bigger the odds I’ll say yes.
What’s the proper terminology when talking about you or Denise in On the Edge of Gone?
Thank you for asking. Although I never want to dictate reviews or articles, a lot of people seem unsure about what words are or aren’t okay to use, especially with regards to disability or autism.
Autism: For both Denise and myself, feel free to use “autistic” or “with autism.” I’m fine with either term. That said, I prefer the former, so please don’t go out of your way to use person-first language. There’s also no need whatsoever to correct anyone else who uses person-first language to refer to either Denise or myself.
Disability: The same applies. Either “disabled” or “with a disability” is acceptable. I lean toward the former even more strongly in this case.
Other phrasing: I’d appreciate it if you avoided inherently negative phrasing like “suffers from autism” or “afflicted with autism.” Depending on context, phrases like “struggles with autism” may be fine, as Denise does in fact struggle with her autism throughout the book – just like she struggles with people’s reactions to her autism.
Conversely, seemingly positive phrases like “overcoming autism,” “inspiring,” and “high-functioning” are loaded terms within the disability community. I would ask people to consider those terms carefully and read up on the context.
The diagnosis of “Asperger’s” is no longer in use at the moment, and certainly wouldn’t be in 2035, which is the year the book is set. That means Denise should not be referred to as such. I do not use the term for myself, either.
If you’ve already used these terms, please don’t worry; I’m not trying to call people out. I’m delighted about anyone choosing to talk about the book in the first place! But since a lot of people have asked me about terminology, I thought I’d have my thoughts out in the open.
Will there be a sequel to Otherbound or On the Edge of Gone?
There are currently no sequels planned to either book; they were always intended as standalones. I’m always open to the idea of revisiting possible sequels or companion novels if I get an idea that works, but it’s not something I’m currently pursuing.
I have written a companion short story to On the Edge of Gone, however, which deals with similar themes. It was released in the Defying Doomsday anthology in 2016. “And the Rest of Us Wait” is set in a temporary shelter in the Netherlands and takes place during the same time period as On the Edge of Gone.
Did Marvel give you the plot for Guardians of the Galaxy: Collect Them All?
Not at all. They offered a lot of freedom. They invited me to write for them, I came up with the story and pitched it, and we hashed out details together. It was a wonderfully collaborative experience.
Is Guardians of the Galaxy: Collect Them All set in the world of the movies?
It’s set in the regular comics universe. That said, it should be completely accessible to people who have only seen the movie(s).