My theme for 2013 is Influential Women Authors.
My definition of influential is any author, classic or modern, who has inspired writers, readers, or the larger scope of culture. Some are personal favorites, or have special meaning to me.
What this list is not: a list of the most influential writers of all time. Rather, this is a collection of influential writers, corresponding with each day's letter.
For the full list of participating blogs, click here.
Simone Elkeles is most known for her Perfect Chemistry series for Young Adults. In this trilogy, the Fuentes brothers grow up in a rough Chicago neighborhood, and they each find love in unlikely places. All are told in alternating points-of-view, with the first featuring golden girl Brittany and bad boy Alex who get stuck as chemistry partners and end up falling for each other.
The Fuentes brothers are the ultimate charmers, and their personalities leap from the page.
Because the author features an often-overlooked population, urban Latino teens, Simone's influence as a writer is astounding. No, really. Her books frequently land on lists of top books for reluctant teen readers. She tours schools, and juvenile correctional facilities. Take a look at the testimonials page of her website to get a glimpse of what I'm saying. Seriously, you might tear up at some of the comments from librarians, teachers, and readers.
Her journey toward this series' publication is equally inspiring. She published several books before this, but cites Perfect Chemistry as the book of her heart. Initially, publishers pushed back at her frank sexuality (for a teen book pubbed in 2008 it pushes boundaries, as did the cover) and bilingual language. Her book was rejected by one publishing house because they already had a book with a Latino character coming out that year. Simone said she checked up on the title, and found the Latino was a supporting character, and the plot and genre had no other similarities to hers.
She fronted her own money into marketing Perfect Chemistry, pushing word of mouth with bloggers, and with readers through school visits, and put together a campy book trailer before everyone and their mother used them as a promotional tool.
Simone is a fellow RWA member belonging to the sister Chicago chapter that I belong to. I saw her speak at last year's Spring Fling conference. Her work ethic and dedication to encouraging teens who don't read to pick up a book, is wholly inspiring.
Check out Simone's books here.