I am YA author B. A. Binns , writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for teens. My tagline says it all - Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them.
A little history:More years ago than I want to admit, I was a junior computer programmer working in COBOL on IBM mainframes. This was in the days when the letters P and C never went together (the idea of political correctness had not been invented and computers were anything but personal) and the word tablet made people think of Moses. Clients came to tell programmers what they wanted from the computer and we gave them exactly what they said, no more and no less. They were never really satisfied by what they received and we made jokes about users never knowing what they wanted.
So there I was with a group of users who wanted me to change the way a report was laid out on the paper. It was actually a pretty complicated piece of formatting for, as far as I could tell, not even an esthetic benefit. So I did the unthinkable. I asked why. They explained that the new format would make it easier for them to manually use the numbers to create their own reports. Why not just let the computer do those computations, I asked.
Then someone said, "I didn't know the machines could do that."
They had asked for less than they wanted because it didn't occur to them they could have the real thing. Seriously, they praised me for months afterwards because a half-hours work on my part saved them countless hours of drudgery every month. I got a nice raise out of asking the right question.
Now, in the immortal words of Bill Cosby, I told you that story so I could tell you this one.
Jump to the present
The #weneeddiversebooks campaign should never have taken the publishing world by surprise.
Ask the next question
I and several other YA authors met with a group of teens last month and asked them if there was something more they wanted to see in books. After much thinking, and a little encouragement, they came up with three things.
- Books that show what life was really like in high school
- Stories set in more places than just the US, because they know the world is bigger
- People like themselves and their friends
Is there something you would like to see in books that you haven't found? Don't be shy, if there is anything you wish to see, share it. Who knows, maybe someone can connect you to a book that meets that wish.