My American Meltingpot
One Last Thing About the Future of the Show

One Last Thing About the Future of the Show

April 16, 2021

This is the final episode of season six of the podcast and it’s going to be a short one. I have a few important announcements about the future of the show to share, some personal updates, and of course, some multicultural book news.

One of the big announcements I'll be sharing is that I am launching a new podcast called, Meltingpot Stories. Yes, the podcast that will be all about multicultural books.

Please follow me on IG @LoriLTharps and visit the My American Meltingpot website to know when the new show will officially launch. 

Thank you all for listening. I appreciate you!

Author Kaitlyn Greenidge Talks Freedom and “Libertie”

Author Kaitlyn Greenidge Talks Freedom and “Libertie”

April 9, 2021

On episode 68 of the podcast, author Kaitlyn Greenidge joins me to talk about freedom and Libertie. Kaitlyn’s debut novel was the critically acclaimed, We Love You, Charlie Freeman. Her writing has also appeared in Vogue, Glamour, the Wall Street Journal, Elle.com, Buzzfeed, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. She was a contributing editor for LENNY Letter, is currently a contributing writer for The New York Times and recently became the Features Director of Harper’s Bazaar magazine

I invited Kaitlyn to talk about her stunning new novel, Libertie, which was just released on March 30, 2021.  Libertie is a coming-of-age story that begins in the second half of the 19th century in New York. It is about a free-born Black woman named Libertie Sampson, who is the dark-skinned daughter of a light-skinned mother, who also happens to be a doctor. Libertie’s mother raises her daughter expecting her to follow in her footsteps into medicine as well. But after the Civil War is fought and the promises of Reconstruction beckon, Libertie imagines a different future for herself. So, when the opportunity to move to Haiti - where Black people are truly free - comes up, she takes it. 

During our illuminating conversation, where I promise there are no spoilers about the novel, Kaitlyn shares the real story Liberite was inspired by; why she wanted to write Black historical fiction that wasn’t about Black exceptionalism; what she thinks freedom is; and why her female characters are so powerful. We also talk about the writing life; Kaitlyn explains why she doesn’t believe in writer's block, and why she doesn’t think writers should hide from real life. 

This is a wonderfully inspiring episode with a brilliant and down-to-earth author. I hope you love it.

Literary Links from the Show

To learn more about Kaitlyn Greenidge, visit her website.

You can purchase Libertie on bookshop.org or Amazon.

During the episode, Kaitlyn mentioned the book, 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl. You might want to check it out.

Both the Well Read Black Girl Book Club and Roxanne Gay have chosen Libertie as their May book read. Maybe you want to read along with them.

If you loved this episode of the podcast, you might also love my interview with author Lauren Francis Scharma, whose historical novel, Book of the Little Axe, is also about a Black woman in search of true freedom.

How to Support the Podcast

  1. Subscribe, rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts.
  2. Share a link or our logo with your book-loving friends on social media.
  3. If you want to support the podcast financially, please shop for books on the My American Meltingpot online book store. Or you can leave me a tip via Pay Pal on the My American Meltingpot website. Thank you!
Children’s Book Author, Zetta Elliott, Wants to Decolonize Your Imagination

Children’s Book Author, Zetta Elliott, Wants to Decolonize Your Imagination

April 2, 2021

On episode 67 we’re going back into the Meltingpot archives to listen to an interview with award-winning children’s book author and indie publisher, Zetta Elliott.   

Zetta has written over 30 books for children, teens and young adults and is committed to telling stories featuring Black characters in the most unexpected places. From sci-fi, to fantasy, to haunted historical fiction, Zetta has written it all and shows no signs of stopping. She is on a mission to decolonize all of our imaginations when it comes to storytelling for young people.  

During this episode, Zetta shares her inspiring journey to becoming a writer and indie publisher; how the move from her native Canada to the United States helped her find her voice as a Black woman; why she unapologetically centers the lives of Black and brown children in her stories; and why and how she continues to self publish even though many of her books are published by major houses.

Black and Brown Children Want to Play with Dragons Too!

For anyone interested in children's book creation, from the writing to the publishing, I guarantee you will get a lot of truth nuggets and advice in this episode. And everyone will be moved by Zetta's willingness to face racism head on in the publishing industry, and by her determination to get her books into the hands of the children who need them most.

Links to #GetLit with Zetta Elliott

You can learn more about Zetta Elliott and her work on her website. You can also find contact information there if you want to write to Zetta for information about self-publishing.

Before you hit Zetta up for self-publishing advice though, you might want to read one of these thoughtful essays she's already written about the practice.

What’s LOVE got to do with it?” Self-publishing as a Black feminist act of radical self-care 

7 Tips for Self-Published Authors

Zetta Elliott on Starting Her Own Imprint & Character Development in Children’s Fiction

How to Decolonize Your Imagination

My favorite Zetta Elliott book that was mentioned at the top of the show is:

A Wish After Midnight (The one about time traveling to pre-civil war era Brooklyn.) You also might want to check out her Dragons in a Bag series.

If you're a self-proclaimed history geek, like Zetta Elliott, and are looking for inspiration on social media, follow Zetta or Medivevalpoc on Instagram for visual evidence of Black people in medieval times.

And speaking of history, here's the true story behind that 9th century ring that is the inspiration for Zetta's Afro-Viking story in progress.

I hope you find something in this list that leads you down a colorful rabbit hole of your own imagination!

How to Support the Show

Subscribe, rate and review the show on Apple podcasts

Tell somebody about the show, either online, offline, or both.

Visit the My American Meltingpot Bookshop the next time you’re buying books online. You’ll find books by all of our guests on the show, as well as a curated collection of fiction and nonfiction for adults and children who love multicultural books. 

Buy yourself some beautiful pajamas from Printfresh.com so you can look beautiful and feel comfortable when you read in bed. Use this link and the code LoriLTharps at checkout and you’ll get 15% off anything you order. 

Follow me on IG @LoriLTharps 

The Multicultural History of Witchcraft in America with Author Via Hedera

The Multicultural History of Witchcraft in America with Author Via Hedera

March 26, 2021

On episode 66 of the podcast we’re going to talk about witches. Why? Because there is a growing number of women who are practicing witchcraft in the United States.  And because this is America, there is a racial divide in this increasingly popular witching community. Apparently, Black witches and white witches just can’t get along. Cries of cultural appropriation, questions of who gets to call themselves a witch, and how witches are portrayed in popular media are all discussions that are happening in the witching world and they are all discussions that require a multiracial perspective. 

They are also discussions that require an understanding and knowledge of the multicultural roots of witchcraft in America.

That is why I’m so excited to have Via Hedera as my guest for today’s show. Via is a sculptor, folklore enthusiast, writer and occult practitioner operating a blog dedicated to folkloric witchcraft in the Americas, modern animism and sacred art. Growing up in a multicultural and spiritually diverse community, she dedicates her time to the study of traditional witchcraft practices, ancestor veneration, and all things magical.

Via is also the author of  the just released book, Folkloric American Witchcraft and the Multicultural Experience and she is an expert in the multicultural history of witchcraft and witchlore in the United States. It’s a history that includes African, Indigenous and European cultures and it is fascinating. If you never stopped to think how witchcraft, magic and spirituality were part of the fabric of this country, prepare to have your mind blown. During our conversation, Via explains the multicultural roots of American witchlore, how her own multiracial background inspired her to investigate magic, folklore and witchcraft, and who gets to call themselves a witch in America today.

Warning, I think I use the word "fascinating" at least 10 times over the course of this episode and I apologize in advance, but have a listen and you'll see, the whole show really is fascinating.

 

Literary Links from the Show

What I'm Reading Now: Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

The delicious novel that sparked my interest in the multicultural roots of witchcraft in America: The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow 

 Multicultural Witchcraft Resources

To keep up with Via Hedera, or to order one of her statues like the ones pictured in the image above, visit her blog, ViaHedera.com

Grab a copy of Via's book Folkloric American Witchcraft and the Multicultural Experience either on Amazon or on Bookshop.org

Books that Via recommended to further your journey into witchcraft

Jambalaya: The Natural Woman's Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals

Working the Roots by Michele E. Lee

Healing with Herbs and Rituals: A Mexican tradition

Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition 

Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston

How to Fight White Supremacy

In light of the recent increase of violence against Asian Americans, I promised to share some books specifically meant to help white people dismantle white supremacy. Here are some options that come highly recommended. If you don't think you need these books yourself, buy one for a friend.

1. Me and White Supremacy

2. How to Be an Anti-Racist

3. Lies My Teacher Told Me

4. An Indigenous People's History of the United States

5. What White People Can Do Next 

MAMP Podcast Episodes to Listen to Help You Fight White Supremacy

Don't Be Racist, Use Your Voice 

Don't Be Racist, Decolonize Your Mind 

Don't Be Racist, Take Action 

Way to Support the Podcast

Please subscribe, rate and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts

Tell your book-loving friends about the podcast 

Do your online book shopping on the MAMP bookstore. You'll find the books of all of our guests, plus a curated collection of multicultural books for adults and children. 

 

 

Children’s Book Author Joanna Ho Writes to Change the World

Children’s Book Author Joanna Ho Writes to Change the World

March 19, 2021

On episode 65 of the podcast, I’m joined by children’s book author, educator, and activist Joanna Ho. Joanna is the New York Times bestselling author of Eyes that Kiss in the Corners, a beautiful picture book that tells the story of a little Asian girl who learns to love and appreciate the shape of her eyes.   

Joanna holds a BA in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s from the Principal Leadership Institute at Berkeley. She has been an English teacher, a dean, the designer of an alternative-to-prison program, and a professional development mastermind. She is currently the vice principal of a high school in the Bay Area.

Joanna Ho Wants to Change the World with her Writing

During our conversation, which felt like a chat with an old friend, Joanna shares how writing for young people is part of her anti-racism activism; why it makes her sad that so many Asian women love her book; how she reacted when her first attempts at writing picture books were rejected; and why she’s not interested in leaving her day job to pursue writing full time, despite the fact that she has three other books already in the works!

Joanna Ho is an absolute delight and I hope you enjoy the show!

A Meltingpot Minute About Multicultural Witches

During the Meltingpot Minute, I take a moment to preview next week's episode and to share my review for the amazing new novel, The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow. 

Literary Links from the Show

Grab your copy of Eyes that Kiss in the Corners

To keep up with all of the amazing content Joanna puts out in the world, visit her website at JoannaHowrites.com.

While you wait for Joanna's book about YoYo Ma at the border, check out this article from Time magazine about some of his humanitarian work.

Joanna just finished reading Punching the Air by Yusef Salem and Ibi Zoboi. You might want to read it too. You might also like American Street by Ibi Zoboi. I reviewed it a few years ago on the blog. 

If you'd like to take some classes or learn more about writing for children, do what Joanna did and check out the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Buy yourself some beautiful pajamas or a lovely nightgown, so you can read in bed in style...like me. Visit the Printfresh online store and use the promocode LORILTHARPS for 15% off your order. By the way, they also have beautiful writing journals as well.

 

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How to Support the Show

1. Subscribe or Follow the show on your favorite podcast platform.

2. Leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts

3. Do your online book shopping on the My American Meltingpot Bookstore

4. Make a donation via paypal on the My American Meltingpot Website.

Thank you!

 

 

 

Writing Wisdom: You Must Believe You Can Write

Writing Wisdom: You Must Believe You Can Write

March 12, 2021

On episode 64 of the podcast, I’m introducing a new segment called Writing Wisdom with Lori. On these mini-episodes, I’ll be sharing actionable inspiration for writers, aspiring writers and creative folks looking to put pen to paper. I want to give you a jolt of what you need to live your best literary life. Think tips, hacks and mindset motivation to get you going, or keep you going on your writing journey.

 

For this very first writing wisdom segment, I'm talking about the most important lesson all writers must learn, and that is that anybody can write. If you can follow a recipe, then you can learn to write. During this brief episode, I'm sharing how new writers and seasoned writers alike, can look at their writing practice like a person who is learning to bake. We start with a recipe, follow the steps, then begin to experiment until we can successfully execute a beautiful cake – or novel – from scratch.

Listen to the show for actionable inspiration and writing wisdom that will hopefully help you believe in your right to write.

Literary Links for more Writing Wisdom

If you're looking for a good no-nonsense (recipe) book on writing, I love Stephen King's On Writing. I re-read it whenever I need inspiration and tips on writing fiction.

If you love podcasts as much as I do, and would like to listen to an inspiring podcast on writing, try the Write-Minded Podcast. Hosted by the director of NaNoWriMo Grant Faulkner and the publisher of She Writes Press, Brooke Warner, the show offers interviews with stellar writers on specific craft-focused topics.

If you want to take a writing class - anything from memoir to screen writing - consider Gotham Writers Workshop. They are based in New York City, but with online classes, you can live anywhere and take one of their courses. 

If you want to hear how some badass women use their writing to change the world, for some added inspiration for your writing practice, listen to the How to Be a Revolutionary Writer episode from the MAMP podcast. (It will definitely get you fired up and ready to write.)

And if after listening to this episode, you just want to bake a cake from scratch, try this recipe for Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake. It's the same one that appears on the back of the Hershey's cocoa tin and it is delicious. 

Do you have any questions about your writing practice? Are you struggling with some part of your journey? Are you seeking permission to write? Leave me you questions and comments on the show notes page for this episode on the My American Meltingpot blog, and I'll try to answer them on my next "Writing Wisdom" episode.

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How to Support the Show

1. Subscribe to the show on your favorite platform.

2. Leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts

3. Do your online book shopping on the My American Meltingpot Bookstore

4. Make a donation via paypal on the My American Meltingpot Website.

Thank you!

 

 

Telling Global Stories with Jennifer Steil, Award-Winning Author of Exile Music

Telling Global Stories with Jennifer Steil, Award-Winning Author of Exile Music

March 5, 2021

On episode 63 of the podcast, I’m joined by award-winning author, Jennifer Steil, to talk about her brilliant new novel, Exile Music. Exile Music tells the remarkable story of an Austrian Jewish family who has to flee Nazi occupied Vienna during WWII, and then finds themselves living as refugees in La Paz, Bolivia. Jennifer stumbled upon this fascinating and mostly unknown piece of history – European Jewish refugees living in Bolivia – when she was living in La Paz with her diplomat husband, and was inspired to write a novel about it. 

During our conversation, in addition to getting the story behind Exile Music, Jennifer and I talk about her life as a journalist turned creative writer; how a job opportunity in Yemen inspired her first book, a memoir called The Woman Who Fell from the Sky; we talk about the time she was kidnapped while pregnant, and how that harrowing experience inspired her first novel, The Ambassador’s Wife; and we talk about the #OwnVoices movement and who has the right to tell whose stories.

Jennifer Steil is an award-winning author, journalist, and teacher who lives in many countries (currently Uzbekistan). Her new novel, Exile Music, released by Viking in May, won the Grand Prize in the international Eyelands 2020 Book Awards, and was chosen by Art in Fiction as one of the best novels about art in 2020, and by Book Authority as one of 16 Best New Music Books to Read in 2021. It has received stunning reviews, including a starred Booklist review, and was chosen by Good Morning America as one of the 25 Novels You'll Want to Read This Summer. 

Her novel, The Ambassador’s Wife, published by Doubleday in 2015, won the 2013 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Best Novel award and the 2016 Phillip McMath Post Publication Book Award. The novel, which explores white savior complex, freedom of expression, art, terrorism, and parenthood, was shortlisted for both the Bisexual Book Award and the Lascaux Novel Award, and has received considerable critical acclaim, notably in the Seattle TimesPublishers Weekly, Booklist, and The New York Times Book Review. It has been published in several other languages, including Italian, Bulgarian, Greek, and Polish.

This is a riveting episode that goes way beyond the book and digs deep into the writing life. I hope you enjoy it!

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Get #Lit with these Links about Jennifer Steil and More...

To read more about Jennifer Steil and to keep up with her work, visit her online home at Jennifer Steil.com.

To purchase a copy of Exile Music, and/ or any of Jennifer's other books, visit the My American Meltingpot online bookstore.

Check me out on the Printfresh Pajamas blog where I share my thoughts on books by Black authors to read beyond Black history month. Don't forget, if you want to buy a pair of beautiful PJs from Printfresh, use the code LORILTHARPS at check out for 15% off your purchase. Don't forget Printfresh sells stylish journals too.

If you're interested in reading more about the two new memoirs penned by biracial Black women, check out the article in the New York Times. And/or go buy a copy of Surviving the White Gaze and Raceless at the My American Meltingpot Bookshop.

To read more about the #ownvoices movement, check out this article on the OwnVoices movement from Read Brightly

To get a summary of Colson Whitehead's speech that Jennifer referenced during our conversation about cultural appropriation in writing, you can get a good summary of Whitehead's speech here.

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How to Support the Show

1. Subscribe to the show on your favorite platform.

2. Leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts

3. Do your online book shopping on the My American Meltingpot Bookstore

4. Leave me a tip via paypal on the My American Meltingpot Website.

Thank you!

Love, Loss and Writing Memoir with Tembi Locke

Love, Loss and Writing Memoir with Tembi Locke

February 26, 2021

On episode 62 of the podcast we’re rewinding to listen to debut author and actress,Tembi Locke, talk about writing her brilliant memoir about love and loss, From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily and Finding Home. In our conversation, Tembi and I talk about the reasons she decided to write this searing love story about life before and after her Italian husband’s death from cancer; her writing process as a new author; why writing memoir is so powerful; what life is like for a Black-American woman living in Sicily; raising confident multiracial children; and the healing power of food. Yes, we covered just about all of my favorite things in this one brilliant conversation. 

At the end of the conversation, I share some exciting news and updates about Tembi and From Scratch, regarding her connections with Reese Witherspoon and some other Hollywood-based projects.

Personal News on the Meltingpot Minute

Speaking of multicultural memoirs, during the Meltingpot Minute, I share some exciting news about my own life. Like Tembi, who is a Black woman who found lasting love while studying abroad, and then wrote all about it, I wrote a memoir too. My memoir is called Kinky Gazpacho and takes place in Spain instead of Italy. Tune in to hear my exciting news and what it has to do with writing, memoir and Spain.

Literary Links from the Show

To follow Tembi Locke, please visit her website where you can also find all of her social media handles.

To keep track of when From Scratch the Netflix series, visit the From Scratch page on Netflix.

To find out more about the Waiting to Exhale Series on ABC, check out this article about the Locke sisters on LitHub.

If you haven't read Terry McMillan's classic, Waiting to Exhale, get your copy wherever you like to buy books.

If you haven't read any books by Tembi's talented sister, Attica Locke, you might want to start with The Cutting Season. I loved it.

Tembi is as much a grief activist as she is a writer. If you're looking for resources to help you move through grief, visit her platform, The Kitchen Widow for help or inspiration.

If you're interested in reading my memoir about my complicated love affair with Spain, you can find Kinky Gazpacho anywhere you buy books.

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How to Support the Show

Leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts

Do your online book shopping on the My American Meltingpot Bookstore

Leave us a tip via paypal on the My American Meltingpot Website.

Thank you!

 

Talking “One Drop,” Blackness, and Publishing  with Dr. Yaba Blay

Talking “One Drop,” Blackness, and Publishing with Dr. Yaba Blay

February 19, 2021

On episode 61 of the show, we’re talking about Blackness, Identity Politics and self-publishing as a form of activism with Dr. Yaba Blay, author of the just released book, One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race

Dr. Blay’s book, One Drop is a gorgeous coffee table book filled with beautiful full-color portraits of people who identify as Black.  The people are divided in groups: Mixed Black, American Black and Diaspora Black and each portrait is accompanied by a personal essay about the person’s racial background and lived identity experience. But this is not just a book of pretty pictures, One Drop also has a deeply researched explanation of the history of Blackness, the history of whiteness and the significance of the one-drop rule in America. Some of the faces in the book are recognizable, like journalist Soledad O’Brien, but the majority are the faces of ordinary people with extra-ordinary stories to tell.

During our conversation, Dr. Blay and I discuss the origin story for One Drop, why she chose to self-publish the book after mainstream publishers rejected it, and how she felt when a mainstream publisher decided to re-publish the book now in 2021, seven years after its original publication. We also talk about colorism, how annoying and counter-productive it is to question someone’s Blackness and who the one-drop rule really benefits?

We had a passionate conversation that went way beyond the book!

 

Literary Links from the Show

During the Meltingpot Minute, I reviewed the book, Good Talk by Mira Jacob. Good Talk is a graphic memoir about coming of age as an Indian American woman, marrying a white man and raising brown children in the age of Trump. To learn more about Good Talk and Mira Jacob, please visit her website.

To learn more about Dr. Yaba Blay, visit her website and catch her on the gram where she posts regularly about her many projects and passions.

To buy your copy of One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race, please consider purchasing from Uncle Bobbie's Coffee and Books or your favorite Black-owned bookstore.

We mentioned author Zetta Elliott during the episode. Zetta is a prolific children's book and YA author, who has a lot to say about equity and the publishing industry. Listen to Zetta's episode on the podcast for an inspiring conversation about writing and self-publishing.

To support the show, remember to do your book shopping at the My American Meltingpot Online bookstore.

If you're interested in reading more about skin color politics, check out my book, Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America's Diverse Families.

Beacon Press is the progressive and innovative publisher who picked up Yaba's book, One Drop. Check out Beacon's amazing catalog of diverse books.

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Don't forget to rate and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

And feel free to leave us a tip via PayPal on the homepage of the MAMP website.

Thank you!

 

White Like Her: Stories of Race and Racial Passing

White Like Her: Stories of Race and Racial Passing

February 12, 2021

On episode 60 of the podcast, we’re digging into the Meltingpot vault and replaying an episode that was inspired by the book, White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing (Skyhorse) by Gail Lukasik. The book is all about racial passing and family secrets in Gail’s family. I’m joined on the show by Gail Lukasik and Philadelphia journalist, Shannon Wink. Like Gail, Shannon was raised to believe she was white, but when she was doing some genealogical research for her job, she discovered some colorful family secrets of her own.  

During this lively conversation we talk about that moment when both women found out that their relatives had been passing, how their own racial identities have shifted from white to not white, but not Black either, and the toll of family secrets. I loved this conversation and it really made me rethink my own definitions of Black and white here in the United States. At the end of the episode, I have some exciting updates to share from Gail and Shannon.

Elizabeth Gilbert is Listening to Black Women Authors

Did you know that Elizabeth Gilbert has started a book club called the Onward Book Club? She launched it after the murder of George Floyd in an effort to do something about racial injustice in this country. Listen in to hear what it's all about and how you can get involved.

Literary Links from the Show

You can buy a copy of the paperback version of White Like Her on Amazon or from Bookshop.org

Elizabeth Gilbert's book club, Onward, can be found on her website, ElizabethGilbert.com

You can read Shannon Wink's original story (and see photos of her family) about finding her roots on her website.

And if you like books about racial passing, consider Brit Bennett's, The Vanishing Half

SUPPORT THE SHOW

Please visit the My American Meltingpot online bookstore when making book purchases. You get great discounted books and the show gets a small commission.

Please rate and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts

Consider a monetary donation via PayPal on the My American Meltingpot website. Look for the yellow button on the lower right-hand side of the blog. 

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