Random House Children's Books (RHCB) will be seeking to smash the long tradition of romance novels only featuring white people, by showing that people of colour also fall in love, through a Jamaican writer, Publishers Weekly announced.
Nicola Yoon, Jamaican-American half of best-selling author couple with hubby David Yoon, a Korean-American, will kick off their “Joy Revolution” for Random House that begins next year, devoted to publishing teen love stories by and about people of colour.
Nicola, who grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, United States, is best known for writing the 2015 young adult novel, Everything, Everything, a New York Times best-seller which became the basis of a 2017 film of the same name. In 2016, she released The Sun is Also a Star, a novel that was also adapted to a film, PW reported.
Welcoming the announcement, Nicola said in a statement that the imprint is born of her passion for stories of the heart, as well as her desire to reflect our diverse world.
“I loved romantic comedies and romance novels when I was younger. Loved the meet-cutes, the breakups, the make-ups, and the final chase scene followed by the big speech declaring one person's love for the other.
“I had so many favourites: When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride, Before Sunrise, Say Anything, Moonstruck, not to mention an unreasonable number of Harlequin romance books. But as much as I loved those titles, they always left me with nagging questions: Where were the girls who looked like me? Didn't black girls ever fall in love?
“Joy Revolution is not focused on stories of black pain or immigrant struggle. Our books won't be issue-oriented or polemical… The characters in them have big ideas about the world and their place in it. I believe love stories are truly revolutionary. Because love has the power to unmake and remake the world,” she said.
David Yoon, author of Frankly in Love, added: “Nicki and I created Joy Revolution as an antidote for a media landscape where people of colour have relentlessly been erased, except for those rare occasions when their pain can teach white people about racism.
“Joy Revolution is a safe haven for readers like me and Nicki to see themselves as the romantic hero, free to pursue their bliss, however they want, unrestrained and unencumbered. After a literal lifetime of waiting for more romantic literary heroes who look like us — largely to no avail — we're thrilled to help take the lead in making sure those heroes' stories are told to a wide and beautifully diverse audience,” declared David.
Nicola majored in electrical engineering as an undergraduate at Cornell University. Taking a creative writing class as an elective got her “hooked on writing”, she said. After graduation, she attended the Master of Creative Writing programme at Emerson College.
The National Book Award finalist, Printz honoree, and Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner worked as a programmer for investment management firms for 20 years before the publication of her first book.
She was inspired to write her debut novel, Everything, Everything, after the birth of her biracial daughter, saying she wanted to write a book that reflected her child on the pages. Her husband, a graphic designer, David Yoon, drew the illustrations.
Nicola is associated with the We Need Diverse Books organisation, which promotes the representation of diversity in literature. The couple live in Los Angeles, California, with their daughter.