Litsy Lemonade Interview: Justina Ireland

Lemonade Syllabus

I am so excited to start this feature of the blog. If you’re on Litsy, you may have joined the Litsy Feminist Bookclub which is reading its way through the Lemonade Syllabus. Inspired by Beyonce’s project, the Syllabus was compiled by Candice Benbow and many other scholars to celebrate black womanhood in fiction, non-fiction, and other forms of media.

Our first book comes from the top of the fiction list, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. As it happens, today, Sept. 15, is Adichie’s birthday, so it seems like destiny to start the discussion today! We’ll be reading this book through Oct. 15 and then discussing it on our litsy page.

It’s no spoiler to say that the main character in Americanah runs a popular blog. In this blog, she highlights the intersection of race and gender on the internet. Because of this, we wanted to highlight some black female bloggers to follow and get their take on how the medium works for them.

Justina Ireland

I am more than thrilled that Justina Ireland takes the first spot in this series of interviews. Ireland is a young adult author (Vengeance Bound, Promise of Shadows) and is a vocal critic of race in the media and publishing in her blog and Twitter posts.

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1.How did you get into blogging?

I started blogging for a local newspaper back in 2006.  At the time I was feeling like the only liberal in in my very conservative area.  I stopped after having a kid and then picked it back up on a private site when I was looking for a literary agent.  At the time all of the advice I read urged writers to have a “platform” online prior to querying an agent (this is terrible advice don’t worry about that).  So here I was writing all of these vapid blog entries that I hated in pursuit of some esoteric idea of a platform. Once I was agented my agent told me that was silly and not to worry about it, so I didn’t.  And then once my first book was published I kept hearing about all of these “rules” about things authors could and couldn’t blog about.  It killed my desire to write anything.

And then, after my second book came out and my publisher passed on my option I felt freed to do whatever the fuck I wanted.  So I started blogging again about the diversity discussions I saw happening around me, and that’s the blog on my website to this day.

2.What are your favorite kinds of topics to tackle?
I like writing about issues of equality and representation of marginalized groups in fiction, because I think it’s something that terrifies people.  The things that scare people are always the most interesting to write about.
3.What post are you most proud of, and why?

I wrote a Diversity 101 Post that’s proven to be pretty evergreen.  It’s nice when you write something that you can point to over and over.  It’s a real timesaver.

4.Who are your favorite blogs to follow?

I read Stacked and Book Riot for book recommendations. Other than that I don’t follow individual blogs so much as I follow people on twitter and always read their blogs.  Mikki Kendall (https://twitter.com/Karnythia) and K Tempest Bradford (https://twitter.com/tinytempest) are two of my faves.
5.What’s the weirdest/best/worst interaction you’ve had with a follower?

Most of my weird interactions happen on Twitter rather than my blog, and they vary from dick pics in my DMs (which makes me laugh because no one’s dic looks good on a cell phone camera) to random “I Love you Justin follow me!!!” I apparently come up in a Justin Beiber twitter search.

6.Best book you’ve read this year?

Oh man, I haven’t read nearly as much as I should (and you’re going to link to my poor ignored Litsy account, aren’t you?)
–Interrupt to say, oh yes, yes we are :)–
I’d have to say Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead has been my favorite book this year.
7.Favorite track on Lemonade?
The one where Beyonce sings
Thank you so much, Justina, for taking the time to answer some questions. Please join us to read through the Lemonade Syllabus. Want to be a featured blogger? @ me on Twitter and let’s talk! (@rmckennyisu)
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