We hope you were able to join us on the 2016 One Maryland One Book Author Tour! “All American Boys” authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely toured Maryland from September 25-28 with stops at Baltimore Book Festival, Boonsboro High School, Abingdon Library in Harford County, Salisbury University, St. Charles High School, and Oxon Hill Library in Prince George’s County.
If you saw the authors speak, you know the power of their candor, hope, and friendship with one another. Enthusiastic crowds loved the Question & Answer session at the end of every tour stop, when audience members would take turns adding to the honest and important conversation.
If you missed it, here are a few of our favorite questions that Jason and Brendan answered on tour:
Question: How did you two meet?
Jason Reynolds: We had written other books separately and our publisher booked us for a tour together. It just so happened that this tour started after Trayvon Martin died. And when George Zimmerman got off for murdering Trayvon, my mom was calling me crying. She’s on the line saying “When is it gonna end? When does this all stop?” and here I am with this guy who doesn’t share my culture, doesn’t share my experience, and doesn’t know me at all. But, eventually, we got to talking. It turned out he was just as angry as I was. It was a different anger, but he was right there with me. He created a safe space for me.
Brendan Kiely: No one ever told me when I was growing up that I was white. It wasn’t a conversation we had. And it’s my responsibility to stand up, every time I do this, every time we talk, to say that black lives matter. I have to stand up. I cannot excuse myself. I think there are a lot of people who would like to talk and have never had the opportunity. I have to say “let’s talk about this.”
Q: How long did it take you to write the book?
JR: We wrote the book in six months. Really quick. But we had talked about it all the time for 6 months. We wrote back and forth. I wrote Rashad, he wrote Quinn, and it was amazing how we were on the same page.
BK: I had to write fast to keep up with Jason. I’ve got a sign next to my desk that says “what would Jason do?”. I’m not kidding! He’s my hero. Jason taught me so much about writing.
JR: Thanks, homie. I’ll give you your money later.
What was the hardest part to write?
BK: When Quinn is trying to figure out the word “racist.” It’s easy for me to call the KKK [Ku Klux Klan] racist. Quinn has to grapple with racism in a deeper way. I wanna go on tour and have a superman cape behind me, to be all good, all right, but it’s not that easy.
JR: For me it was writing about Rashad’s dad. It was difficult to be honest that this problem isn’t all white cops killing black people. It’s black cops, too. It hurt to write that knowing it’s the truth.
Q: What happens next? Where’s the sequel?
JR: You know I can’t answer that! And I’ll tell you why. There is no sequel. There is no epilogue. And that’s because this book is about what’s next. And after reading this book, that’s up to you. What we always say is you can write the end. You can write it down, or you can write it in what you do. We are responsible for the next part of this book. What happens next? That’s up to you.
BK: It’s like when Prospero waves his wand at the end of “The Tempest.” The end of the book is your call back to reality. You read the story, you know the people, now you take what you felt, what you know and go forth, back into reality.
The 2016 One Maryland One Book Author Tour may be over, but “All American Boys” programming continues across the state through October and beyond! Visit our Events page for the full calendar.
Next year’s One Maryland One Book theme will be announced soon. Follow Maryland Center for the Book on Facebook for announcements and make sure to submit your favorite title for next year’s pick.