Happy Book Birthday to Boundless: Twenty Voices Celebrating Multicultural and Multiracial Identities
Join us in celebrating Boundless: Twenty Voices Celebrating Multicultural and Multiracial Identities book birthday! We sat down with Musa Ismée Williams to learn all about the inspiration behind this book.
But first, a little bit about this anthology:
When identities cross boundaries, with love that knows no bounds. From platonic and romantic love to grief and heartbreak, these stories explore navigating life at the intersection of identities, and what it means to grow up surrounded by a multitude of traditions, languages, cultures, and interpersonal dynamics.
Returning to a father’s homeland. Trying to fit in at chaotic weddings and lavish birthday parties where not all are welcome. Processing grief at family gatherings. Figuring out how to share the news of a new relationship with loved ones. This collection celebrates multicultural and multiracial characters at the helm of their own narratives, as they approach life with a renewed sense of hope and acceptance.
What 3 words would you use to describe this anthology?
This is difficult since BOUNDLESS is an anthology. I would say: HOPEFUL, EMOTIONAL, INSIGHTFUL. If we are talking just about my own story, I would say: ANGST, HEARTBREAK, SISTER LOVE.
Where did you get the idea to edit this anthology and also contribute?
This anthology is focusing on the mixed race/mixed cultural experience and reached into my own past to rip out a piece that I remembered as being particularly raw and affecting. My family used to vacation in Mexico every summer as we couldn’t go back to Cuba, and yes, my brother is blond with blue eyes and no one ever realized we were related!
Can you share your path to publication for this book?
Rebecca and I came up with the idea for BOUNDLESS in the summer of 2020 when we were on a Nerdcamp panel together that ended up focusing on the mixed race/mixed culture experience. It was COVID lockdown, and over a bunch of emails and texts, and after consulting with our respective agents, we decided this was a project worth pursuing. We then had to identify all the other authors who would contribute. We knew a few and reached out, and they provided other names and the project snowballed from there. Before we knew it, we had over twenty individuals who were enthusiastic about this idea. We had to write a proposal–since this was an anthology, we had to sell it before anyone actually wrote their stories. The best news was that multiple publishers were interested and it went to auction, which was exciting as it was the first time either Rebecca or I had that experience.
What was your favorite part of the publication process with this anthology?
I would say that the enthusiastic responses we had from fellow authors, almost all of whom are way more successful/famous than me, was extremely exciting. You know, you get these ideas and sometimes you’re not sure if they are good or viable, and then you toss them out into the world anyway to see how they are received. It is always nice to get that positive affirmation. That the proposal went to auction was also pretty sweet.
What was the most challenging part of the publication process with this story?
We thought that editing all the stories would be challenging, but Rebecca and I actually had a ton of fun doing that. It was very cool to receive an early draft and work with the writer to polish it and make the writer’s intent really shine. The hardest part probably was coordinating the contracts between all the different agents and authors!
Can you share if you used any mentor texts for editing the anthology and your own work in it?
Since this was the first time I was writing a short story and not a novel, I did read some anthologies, such as COME ON IN, which was edited by Adi Alsaid, one of our contributors!
What message are you hoping readers will take away from this story?
The world, especially the US, is becoming more and more multicultural and multiracial. It’s a beautiful thing, but when you’re a teen trying to figure out your own identity, and you feel like you don’t even fit in amongst your family because you are never enough of one parent or the other, it can be pretty challenging. I hope these stories show those young people out there who are facing this struggle that they are not alone. I also hope that these stories will start conversations and increase empathy, even among students who do not identify as multiracial or multicultural.
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