Ask Daphne! About multicultural stories

December 11th, 2008 • Kate

Some gorgeous Indian shoes for K.T. (no, not me), who asks:

Are you open to YA or MG books set in countries like India as long as the book is well-written? Even if these stories are not fantasy or paranormal, which are more universal in nature?

I’m interested in just about anything, honestly, and would happily read a story set in a foreign land. What I always need to consider before agreeing to represent something, however, is if I can sell and market it to a US publisher. A brilliantly written book that speaks to a human experience unfettered by national borders will find a home much more easily than a simple coming-of-age story that just happens to be set in a foreign country.
Basically, it should be multicultural not just for the purposes of being multicultural, but because something about that unique experience speaks to the truth of the story.
And because that was such a short answer, a bonus question from the comments on a previous post. Yellowbrick wants to know:

A friend of mine is in a similar boat (book one written and being revised, and book two roughed up), but she had heard that series are difficult to sell nowadays. She has written the first book so that it can be a stand-alone if necessary. But my question is, is it true that publishers are being cautious about taking on new series? And if so, is it best for an author submitting to agents and editors to mention the series in a query letter or stick to the first novel with the idea of saying, “Hey, I’ve got a second in mind if this one does well,” after they’re hooked? Thanks for your insight.

We’ve all seen the bad news pouring out of New York — not just series, but lots of books are having a hard time finding a home right now. That being said, as I said in the previous post, concentrate on the first book or work on the second as a standalone as much as possible, with the thought of a series happily nestled in the back of your head, even if it doesn’t come out in first conversations with agents and editors.

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7 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About multicultural stories”

  1. lotusloquax Says:

    The multi-cultural issue is something I think about because I lived in Europe for awhile. I wonder how the American abroad would sell in the YA market. Any feel for that?

  2. Christy Says:

    Thanks for sharing. What are your thoughts on historical multi-cultural set in a foreign country?

  3. Kate Says:

    Again, it depends on the writing, and how the multi-cultural aspect is served in the telling of the story, but I can't imagine hearing about a Japanese coming-of-age story set during the feudal period and declining it just based on the setting.
    As for the American abroad, I think that may have even greater potential, because your main character therefore gives the audience a way into the foreign country, and the local mindset.

  4. lotusloquax Says:

    Thanks, Kate!

  5. Christy Says:

    Thanks Kate for sharing your thoughts.

  6. yellowbrick08 Says:

    Thanks for answering that series question, Kate. I think that's what my friend has been doing, but I'll point her to your answer.

  7. Kt Says:

    Thanks for answering my query. Happy Holidays.
    – Kt