Interview with Marieke Nijkamp

mariekeMarieke is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, and proud-to-be geek. She wants to grow up to be a time traveler, holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies, and is more or less proficient in about a dozen languages.

In the midnight hours of the day she writes young adult stories (ranging from contemporary to fantasy) as well as the occasional middle grade adventure, and all her stories have a sprinkling of wonder to them. Whether it’s dark contemporary, epic fantasy, or magic realism, she loves to write stories that dig to the heart of reality and imagination. Preferably in a dark and twisted kind of way, but always drowning in hope.


I’m very happy and proud to welcome Marieke to my blog today. Marieke was one of members of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Panel at BookCon 2014, (you can read my post about it HERE) she is also a founding member of DiversifYA, an amazing writer and wonderful friend.

*sets out cupcakes and coffee*

Let’s begin.

It’s been a few weeks since the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Panel, how are you?
Still on a high, and working hard on the next steps.

What was the experience like?
Both amazing and completely surreal. I’m not exaggerating when I say the day went from highlight to highlight, from seeing the panel listed for the first time and realizing this was actually happening, to seeing people lining up well in advance—and filling up every inch of floor space in our room, to actually being on a panel with so many people I admire and respect. By the end of it I felt like I was floating on all those feelings of hope and optimism.

The moment it really hit home for me was in line for coffee at the Javits’s tiny Starbucks, when I logged on to Twitter and saw all the tweets from inside the room as well as well the barrage of support from outside. Suddenly it was so. very. real.

You’re one of the founders of DiversifYA, can you tell us more about it?
DiversifYA is an inclusive community where people share experiences and stories, all sorts of diversity and all marginalized experiences, in the hope that all of us who write will realize the world is much bigger than our little patch of earth. That we are diversity, that diversity is reality, and that one day our stories will reflect that.

One of the things repeated on the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Panel was that hardly anyone felt they had a book (never mind books) they could identify with growing up. You mention this as one of the reason for founding DiversifYA – do you think even just one book would have made a difference during your childhood?
Yes, absolutely. There’s nothing quite as lonely as reading a thousand stories and realizing they’re never about you, because queer people can’t have adventures, and disabled characters are inherently evil. Even one would’ve made such a difference. Finding those, later in life, felt a little bit like homecoming, especially to a bookworm like me.

Does being ‘other’ bother you?
Other bothers me because it’s often a judgment: not good enough, not normal enough, not quite human enough. Different, on the other hand, not so much: as long as it acknowledges and celebrates our many experiences, while allowing us to be equal.

Let’s talk about your writing. *pushes a giant plate of cupcakes across* I believe you have many amazing stories but any you can tell us about?
Anything in particular? Hm… I primarily write YA and MG, and I’m currently working on a fantasy story that’s been whispering to me for a long time now. It’s a story of war, friendship, and crafting your own path when everything you thought was true turns out to be a lie.

It’s also one of those stories I’ve tried to write before, but it was never quite what I wanted it to be and I didn’t really have the experience to pull it off. This time, I hope I can do it justice.

What’s the scariest thing about your writing journey so far?
Sharing my writing with others. Whether it’s my critique partners, beta readers, my wonderful agent, that moment of actually pressing send is terrifying, no matter how many times you’ve done it.

And the best?
Sharing my writing with others. I love crafting stories. I love finding the perfect phrase, the exact right characteristic, or that one detail that makes a scene come to life. I always start out writing my stories for me, as books I’d want to read. But there’s nothing that I love quite so much as subsequently sharing those stories with readers and finding they loved it as much, or read it completely differently, or wanted to chuck it across the room. Making people feel with simple words is a particular kind of magic.

I’m giving you a free platform to talk about anything – GO:
I know I’ll get to book recommendations soon, but I want to give a special shout-out to my fantastic critique partner Dahlia Adler, whose debut BEHIND THE SCENES releases tomorrow. If you’re looking for contemporary YA full of heart, this is the story for you. It’s SO, SO, SO good. You definitely do not want to miss it.

What happens next? (For #WeNeedDiverseBooks, DiversifYA, You – ‘cause I make it so easy :P)
Ha! Yeah, that’s definitely easy. Hm, let’s see:

  • WNDB is working on a few exciting new initiatives, like a diversity in the classroom scheme and the 2016 Diversity Festival. We’re hard at work behind the scenes making that happen.
  • DiversifYA has a number of fabulous interviews lined up for the next couple of weeks. We are hosting a #DivYAQnA twitter chat about gender identity tomorrow. AND we are hard at work organizing several diversity roundtables, online panels about aspects of diversity.
  • And I’m writing, always. 🙂 (And I’ll be speaking at LonCon3 later this year, so, like, come see me and all that!)

Can you pick 5 books you’d recommend?

For once, I won’t recommend Corinne Duyvis’s OTHERBOUND, because frankly, if you’ve been following me at all, you’ll know I’ve been shouting this book’s title from the rooftops. (It’s amazing—read it!)

Luna: It kinda still sounds like a recommendation but I’m letting it slide because I’ve read Otherbound and agree. Read it!

Instead, five other recent diverse favorites, in no particular order:

Tess Sharpe’s *amazing* FAR FROM YOU (Orion/Hyperion, out now), which made me cry ugly, ugly tears in public. This story spoke to me on so many levels, and I love how well Tess portrayed both bisexuality and disability. Absolutely loved it.

Amber Lough’s upcoming THE FIRE WISH (Random House, July), which I had the pleasure of reading in advance, because I have so much love for this story. I love the Middle Eastern inspired fantasy, the richness of the world, and the realness of the characters. (And trust me when I say, the sequel is even better.)

I read Scott Westerfeld’s AFTERWORLDS (Simon Pulse, September) on the plane home from BEA, and it was probably one of the most meta experiences I’ve had in a long time. If you’re a writer or if you’re at all interested in publishing, this book is the 2014 book for you. And oh, the main relationship was so wonderfully bittersweet ❤

Another upcoming debut is Robin Talley’s LIES WE TELL OURSELVES (Harlequin Teen, September). I’ve had this book on my radar for-freaking-ever and I may or may not have fought my way to a copy at BEA. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down, and it is everything I had hoped for and more. An extraordinary feat of storytelling. Funny you should pick this one… *points to giveaway*

Finally a story for us theatre geeks, Tim Federle’s BETTER NATE THAN EVER (Simon & Schuster BFYR, out now). Recently challenged as being “too gay”, this is a sweet, wonderful adventure that made me intensely happy.

Frankly, I could talk about these books—and quite a few more—for a long time, not to mention a good number of diverse 2015 releases that blew my mind, like Renee Ahdieh’s THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, IW Gregorio’s NONE OF THE ABOVE, Chessie Zappia’s MADE YOU UP, Sarah Benwell’s THE LAST LEAVES FALLING, Rosamund Hodge’s CRIMSON BOUND, EK Johnston’s PRAIRIE FIRE. :). It’s a happy time to be a reader 😉

Luna: I’ve linked them all to Goodreads, they sound amazing.

Quickfire Round

Best Dr Who?
There are many Doctors I love, but only one who is “my” Doctor. Has to be Ten 🙂

Luna: That’s David Tennant btw, very good choice.

You can have one superpower, what would you like?
I’d love to be able to fly, but it depends a bit on how fast I could fly whether or not I’d choose that over teleportation 😉

How’s Biscuit and does he miss me?
Biscuit and Candy, my two cats, are both doing well and missing you 🙂

Luna: I miss them too! I need to come back and visit. 😉

What’s the perfect cure to a bad day?
A good story, either to read or write.

How many books can you carry during a shopping trip?
Comfortably? I’d say around twenty. More if I have to.

Cupcakes or scones?
You are an evil person. … Scones.

Luna: *mwah ha ha*

What word describes you best?
Hmm… I’d say “dreamer” 🙂

You can have one trip in the Tardis, where and when will you be going?
To Gallifrey, to steal my own TARDIS.

Luna: I’m not sure if that’s cheating… provided you come and pick me up I think it’s ok.

19182049What book have you read the most?
That has to be LETTER FOR THE KING, by Tonke Dragt. Although originally a Dutch book, it was recently translated into English, and the translation itself is a work of art. I read the Dutch version–and its sequel–endlessly as a kid, to the point where I still know entire passages by heart. And occasional rereads still happen 🙂

And finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
“Will you come with me in my TARDIS?”

Diversify Your Shelves

On the 3 & 4 May #WeNeedDiverseBooks launched Diversify Your Shelves. It wasn’t just for that weekend and going forward I want to make a real effort here on Luna’s Little Library.

So at the very least I’ll be reading one diverse book a month (planning on more). They’ll be tagged under the usual genre’s (i.e. contemporary, fantasy, etc) as well as #WeNeedDiverseBooks so if you’re looking for inspiration it should make them easy to find.

I’ve gone through my review archives and re-tagged previous titles, from those I’ve picked a few I think are too brilliant to pass up.

Blackberry Blue: And Other Fairy Tales by Jamila Gavin

Cruel Summer by James Dawson

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Pantomime by Laura Lam

Shadows on the Moon by Zoë Marriott

Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Kiss, Date, Love, Hate by Luisa Plaja

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman



You can’t have a bookmark without a book and Lies We Tell Ourselves was one of the books highlighted at BEA, I’ve not finished it (yet) but have read the first few chapters and WOW. To celebrate the start my Diversify Your Shelves & share the #WeNeedDiverseBooks love this seemed like the perfect choice. 🙂



Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (ARC) +
#WeNeedDiverseBooks bookmark & stickers

Enter to win HERE

Giveaway is for UK* only.
Closes 30 June 2014.

EDIT: Winner is

*International entries are welcome provided

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8 thoughts on “Interview with Marieke Nijkamp

  1. “How many books can you carry during a shopping trip?
    Comfortably? I’d say around twenty. More if I have to.”

    BAHAHAHAHA CLEARLY THIS WAS NOT REFERRING TO BEA. *remembers Marieke’s approximately 374682736 books fondly*

    But where was I? Oh yes. A) MARIEKE IS THE GREATEST ❤ B) Those recommendations (including OTHERBOUND) are fantastic, and *clearly* I need AFTERWORLDS in my life because it's the only one I haven't read (and I loved all the others).

    Great interview!

  2. Yay, thanks for the giveaway! I wanna read this book so badly.

    I love reading diverse books. I think some of my favourite diverse books are probably Laura Lam’s Micah Grey books, and The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock.

    I’m currently looking forward to reading Otherbound as well, which I’ve bought but not yet had a chance to read. 😀

  3. Thanks for the giveaway! Diverse book. . . Erm. I’ve been playing it safe lately. Mara Dyer is a diverse book. Her mom fully embraces their Indian culture & Mara has a Sanskrit name. We even get a look into her family’s past. I’m reading Cinder now. . . that diverse, right?

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