Friday, April 3, 2015

Blog Tour + Giveaway: None of the Above

Today I have the absolute pleasure of welcoming I.W. Gregorio to the blog as part of the promotional tour for her YA contemporary release, None of the Above. This tour consists of 5 very special stops (please check the bottom of the post for the full schedule!) in which I.W. discusses bringing diversity into YA fiction as a whole while putting a spotlight specifically on a condition known as intersex. Not only will each stop have an amazing guest post and giveaway, but the bloggers will also each be helping to debunk a myth about intersex to by getting facts out there rather than fiction, so I couldn't be more excited to be a part of this tour!


This post can be summarized in three sentences, for the DRTL crowd:
1. Representation matters.

2. You don’t have to write what you know, but you should know what you write.

3. Check your work.
A week ago at the NYC Teen Author Festival, I was super excited to be on a panel moderated by David Levithan on representation in YA. David asked all the right questions: Did we as writers ever feel the responsibility to write from our cultural experiences? When we wrote outside of our experiences, what do you have to do to ensure that your characters are as authentic as possible?

All writers have different processes, so it’s no surprise that the panelists disagreed re: the last question. While some writers approached their work organically, some of us thought actively about our characters’ diversity, and did a lot of vetting of cultures we wrote about. The conversation got pretty lively when one author said, in response to the latter group of people, “Wow, you guys work really hard.”

I took that statement as a compliment.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the We Need Diverse Books campaign, it’s that representation matters. Diverse books change lives by creating empathy and opening people’s eyes. But, when done poorly, they can also perpetuate stereotypes and reinforce ignorance. This why a lot of authors–appropriately, I think–feel a lot of trepidation when they write outside their experience. But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t do it. They just need to truly know what they write–and if you haven’t experienced something, you can’t truly know it until you do the work to research it.

Because I was acutely aware that intersex people are invisible to most of the population, I felt an enormous responsibility to do my homework when I wrote None of the Above. I felt this responsibility both from the literary perspective–because I wanted the details of the story to ring true–and from the moral perspective–because if I didn’t try to get things right, it was the worst kind of appropriation and exploitation. I would be further marginalizing a group that’s already shrouded in shame and speculation.

For me, homework entailed more than just research and interviewing–it involved taking that next step to have my work checked after I wrote it, but before the book was printed. I went to the AIS-DSD Support Group conference to meet actual intersex men and women, and I felt it important to get more than one beta reader from the group, because no one person is going to have the same experience. I’m glad I did, because my readers gave me crucial feedback that I incorporated in early stages, and as late in the game as second pass pages.

Even with all the work I put in? I’m sure someone will think I got it wrong, and that is absolutely my greatest fear. But if that happens, I know I can sleep at night, knowing that I did everything in my power to prevent it.  

 photo: Laura Silverman
 I.W. Gregorio at the NYC Teen Author Festival

 photo: Amber Jones
 I.W. Gregorio at the AIS-DSD Support Group Conference

And here is today's myth about intersex, please check out the below blogs to learn the other four:

(click to enlarge)


The Midnight Garden  - Tuesday 3/31
What is Intersex?

YA Romantics - Wednesday 4/1
5 Ways Writing is Way Harder Than Medicine

The Reading Date - Thursday 4/2
5 Inspiring LGBTQI Books That Can, and Will, Change Lives

Supernatural Snark - Friday 4/3
Writing What You Don’t Know

The Irish Banana - Monday 4/6
Interview with Lianne Simon, intersex author

 • • • • • • • • • • • • 

(releases on April 7th from Balzer + Bray)

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex . . . and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.
What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?
When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.
But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned--something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."
Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

• • • • • • • • • • • •


I. W. Gregorio is a practicing surgeon by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. After getting her MD, she did her residency at Stanford, where she met the intersex patient who inspired her debut novel, None of the Above (Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins). She is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books™ and serves as its VP of Development. A recovering ice hockey player, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. 

• • • • • • • • • • • • 


To celebrate the release of None of the Above, we're giving away a mystery box for 4 hot upcoming Harper Collins ARCs! They have some awesome books coming out this year, and the winner will receive some great titles. US/Canada only, complete rules are on the entry form. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I feel like this is such a relevant book and about something I want to become more educated about!
    Diversity and representation is so very important, and I'm really glad that many authors out there are working hard to make sure they're making justice to the people they're trying to portray and represent!

  2. This subject is so important and I commend authors who are willing to take on such a "taboo" subject. Hopefully this kind of literature will make it easier for intersex individuals to talk about what they're going through and shed some light on things that people have had their eyes closed to for so long.

  3. My love of this book, Jenny, knows no bounds. I adore it beyond words!

  4. Wow, wow, WOW! This sounds amazing! I love that the author is a surgeon and that she did so much research to get things right. I love books that are about things we may not know so much about. This sounds like a very important book and I can't wait to read it!

  5. I have seen some pretty great reviews for this! I'm excited to try it!

  6. I've been following this tour this week and I have to say I feel aspired by this authors work. I haven't read this book and I'll be honest that I'm a little hesitant as well with the very realistic and raw topic that is intersex but I'm willing to give it a try though. Great post Jenny!

  7. We've been seeing so much diversity in YA lately, and after Alex as Well, I'm trilled to see another book about intersex teens. I'm ordering this one right now and I'll save it for my niece and daugter to read too. :)

  8. So well-said! And I love how you pointed out that writing diversity is important and necessary, and that takes time and research. It's worth it to get it right!

    Can't wait to see NONE OF THE ABOVE on the shelves!

  9. I think writers can write outside their own experiences, as long as they have done their research.

  10. I love it when authors take the time and the thoughtfulness into the subject that they are writing about. It usually shows in the story and it really brings the subjects to life. Great post!

  11. Its incredibly important for authors to write diversity well. It both makes fiction reflect in some small way the complexities of the real world, and lets people see themselves in the books they read.

  12. I have been seeing this book around a lot. Thanks for sharing and for the giveaway.

  13. It great to do different things. But as long as the author learn about what they are writing about and research it, it's okay.

  14. I am very excited about this new release

  15. I think they can but I think they need to do research. They need to learn about what they want to write about. I think it's so important when authors write outside their comfort zone because sometimes you get some of the best books!

  16. I really like what the author says about writing diverse characters! I'm writing a Black and Latino character right now and it is a little scary because I don't want to get it wrong.

  17. thanks for shring this jenny, I'm not too sure about this book but I will make sure to check this book out soon :D

  18. I think authors can write outside of what they know. I think they would have to.

  19. This is such a fabulous guest post! I am always at awe at how much research authors put into their books. I can never be that hardworking and patient if I try to write. xD And since this book had a lot of technical stuff, Ilene surely had to do some EXTREME research, but it did pay off and she wrote an amazing book. <3

  20. I definitely think that writers can explore outside of what they know as long as they take the time to research like the author of None of the Above did. It's great to research and learn something new and then write about it. On the other hand, it's also great to write what you know, even though that may be the easier route.
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

  21. I am super excited about None of the Above! And I think it is really important to remember that there are lots of ways to "write what you know" and doing extensive research is one of them. We absolutely need more diverse writers bringing their personal experiences into the conversation, but to argue that people can only write from personal experience implies that people different from ourselves are fundamentally unknowable. I think that is a really scary argument to make.

  22. With each stop on this tour, my excitement about this book keeps growing. I wish the library had this! (It's not even showing up as on order. But who knows, sometimes they just take a few months to order things, so maybe it'll turn up in a bit!) And with each stop my respect for the author is also growing. It's clear that she's done a ton of research and that she's handling the representation respectfully - both from what she says here and from the reviews I've seen!

  23. This tackles a difficult subject for sure. I think it would be hard to chose what to do as a parent if you had an intersex baby. It's nice this story and tour is shedding light on the subject. Thanks for sharing! :)

  24. I definitely think that authors can explore areas outside of their own knowledge in their writing as long as they do their research and approach the subject in a non-judgmental manner. That is particularly important with tough subjects like this.

  25. I think that authors should write about things that they don't know from experience, as long as they don't act as if they're experts on the subject. Writing something you don't know keeps things interesting and you become more knowledgeable too! I enjoy reading from personal experience too, it gives a new perspective on things for me. ~ Danielle D.

  26. I just read this one and found it pretty informative, Jenny.

    I have no problems with authors writing about things that they haven't experienced, but I think it's important that they do a ton of research and write in a nonjudgmental manner.

  27. I think they can write about things that they haven't experienced, but a lot of research should go into it.

  28. Aww, I don't like having to sit out on this giveaway, but oh well! I do have a review copy of None of the Above, and it sounds like a very interesting subject to be writing about. I really want to read it so I can more emotionally connect to those whoa re intersex and what might be running through their mind. Especially as it is nothing I have encountered before.

  29. I think authors can write outside of what they know, if they bother to give the character more substance than just "he's gay" and use the harmful stereotypes.

  30. I absolutely love how much research this author put into this book--her care for her subject definitely shows.

    Thank you so much for hosting this stop on the NOTA tour, Jenny! I just knew Supernatural Snark would be a great place for this thoughtful discussion. It's been heartening to read everyone's reactions to this book, and I so appreciate your willingness to help bring attention to this timely topic.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  31. I love the mystery of this giveaway. I think writers can write about things they know. I love that some writers will put in the effort to research new topics because through their experience, we as readers get to experience new things too.