While logging onto Twitter these days can feel like a pit of despair for some, authors Maureen Johnson and Tim Federle turned an exchange on the platform into something good.
As they outline in the excerpt below, after the 2016 election, Federle tweeted, “When is a YA publisher going to put together an anthology of essays about resistance?” Johnson saw the message, and the two realized they could be the ones to put such an anthology together.
Together, they co-edited How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation, an essay collection featuring contributions from celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell and Jessie Tyler Ferguson, and authors like Jason Reynolds, Jacqueline Woodson, Libba Bray, Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner, and many more.
In addition to writing the essays, all of the contributors, including Johnson and Federle, have pledged the entirety of the book’s advance — $50,000 — to the ACLU. The donation has already been made.
How I Resist won’t be released until May 1, 2018, but EW can exclusively reveal its cover right here, as well as a first look at the introduction, which explores the book’s genesis and purpose. Check it all out below.
aka an actual internet conversation between co-editors Maureen Johnson (@MaureenJohnson) and Tim Federle (@TimFederle)
TIM FEDERLE: *waves*
*checks internet connection*
I suppose we should start at the beginning?
MAUREEN JOHNSON: A good place to start. Tim, do you remember the night HOW I RESIST first came into the world?
TIM: Yes, so, like hundreds of billions of woke Americans (number not confirmed), I’d been feeling restless and helpless and confused after Hillary’s loss. Which is a long way of saying I was spending many days and nights and middle-of-the-nights on Twitter, seeking to understand how we’d gotten here.
MAUREEN: tbh Tim I’m still doing that.
TIM: Very same. Anyway, on the day this book was kind of accidentally launched, I’d received an email from a young gay reader saying to me: “Thanks for writing a book that I can relate to,” e.g. one that features an LGBT protagonist. I love getting these kinds of emails, but they aren’t all that unusual. The unusual part is that the second part of this high school kid’s email said something about how he didn’t feel comfortable coming out and being himself. Because in Tr*mp’s America, the bullying in his school had gone crazy and haywire. He was basically saying to me: Thanks for writing a gay character but I no longer feel safe being gay. And that felt new to me. Or like the wrong kind of #ThrowbackThursday.
And I was so upset about that, I Tweeted out, “When is a YA publisher going to put together an anthology of essays about resistance?”
Enter: Maureen Johnson.
(Not that you’re a publisher.)
But you are a Very Powerful Force for Good and Tweets. And I remember you quoting my tweet, adding those “sideways emoji eyes,” and twenty minutes later — even though we’d never met irl — I was like, Oh, this could be a book.
Am I remembering this fever dream correctly? I’m probably leaving out how many carbs I was eating in between tweets.
MAUREEN: I was cooking when this conversation happened, so maybe I was feeding you the carbs. That’s what was so magical about the whole thing — I’d look over from whatever I was mixing or stirring or chopping and suddenly a book happened. I have done a lot of stress cooking since the 2016 election.
It’s a hallmark of this time that many people feel the urge to DO SOMETHING and the question is often BUT WHAT? So how this book came to be is in many ways the message of the book: just make something. There are many ways you can get involved with the political and social world, even if you can’t vote yet.
TIM: In fact, we have a section on that! Rock the Vote is the organization that first got me side-eyeing politics, when I was a teen. And we scored a great piece from them, on how to resist even if you aren’t old enough to vote. Of course, the minute I mention one contributor, I feel as if I have to mention them all, and for good reason — we wanted this collection to look and sound and feel like Real World America. Should we talk for a moment about how we got so many all-stars (and up-and-comers) to participate?
MAUREEN: People just showed up, in many cases. We spoke to a few people and they were gracious and giving. We also found some pieces that moved us so much that we asked for them to be included. We called it HOW I RESIST, and one of the first discoveries is that resist means many things. Resist may mean protest. It may mean debate. It may mean developing your point of view or changing the way you go about things big and small. The title of this book reflects the many facets of the term!
Okay. So you’re here. And you’re saying, “Great. That’s how you made this book. But what about me?”
TIM: Yes. Yes, I am.
MAUREEN: Well, Tim, I have answers! In these pages you’re going to find different types of materials. There are essays about personal experiences. There are poems. There are songs. There are cartoons. There are interviews with people who talk about how they resist and make change. There are sample letters to help you contact your representatives. There is information about specific actions people under 18 can take. There is information about how to step out of your comfort zone and make something. You can pick this book up and read it in any way you like. You can start at any point. Whatever speaks to you…wonderful. It’s not a prescription. It’s a way of getting you going.
TIM: And speaking of getting going — we’ve got so many amazing contributors with so many amazing tips, perhaps we should step out of the way and allow them to get resisting. These marches aren’t going to march themselves.
From HOW I RESIST by Tim Federle and Maureen Johnson. Copyright © 2018 by the authors and reprinted by permission of Wednesday Books.