It’s no secret that the publishing industry is predominantly white and middle class, and still struggles to represent diverse voices. I talk about what needs to change with YA writer Attiya Khan, whose debut novel Ten Steps to Us is out soon, and Abiola Bello, co-founder of the publishing house Hashtag BLAK.
This is an episode I’ve wanted to record for a long time. Publishers are making changes, which have speeded up since the Black Lives Matter campaign, but I still don’t see the rich variety of experiences of race, gender and class that emerge every year from my writing groups reflected on the shelves of bookshops and libraries. As Attiya Khan says in our conversation, she didn’t want to write another terrorist Muslim woman. The reading public are missing out on so many stories. I want to know what it takes to speed things up.
Attiya was on the podcast last season, as one of the Masterminds critique group. Her debut YA novel, Ten Steps to Us is being published this year by a new imprint called Hashtag BLAK. That imprint was co-founded by Abiola Bello, who is walking the walk of diversity in publishing. Abiola is an award-winning YA author herself. And as a publisher, she won the Trailblazer Awards in 2018 and is on the advisory group for World Book Day. We discuss what's good, what’s bad, what needs to change and how to make it happen.