Writing What You Don’t Know: Reading and Discussion Tuesday, November 11

Write what you know, the old adage goes. But what about writing what you don’t know? How can writers expand their knowledge?

The basics

Who: Ami Polonsky and Crystal Chan

What: Writing the “Tween-age Other”

When: Tuesday, November 11, 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m.

Where: Bookends & Beginnings, 1712 Sherman Avenue, Evanston, 60201

RSVP: Email Crystal (chancm16@gmail.com).

Gracefully Grayson


Event details

Grayson Sender, the protagonist of Ami Polonsky’s middle-grade novel Gracefully Grayson, has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body.

In Crystal Chan’s novel Bird, 12-year-old Jewel comes from the only mixed-race family in her rural Iowa town.

Both books raise questions about how it feels to defy society’s ready-made labels for how we should be and act.

This event includes readings by both authors—and a conversation about the writing process, especially as it relates to portraying “otherness” in fiction.

Bird by Crystal Chan


A message from Crystal

Ami Polonsky writes about a transexual MC, and she herself is not trans. I wrote about a MC who is Jamaican/Mexican/white, and I’m neither Jamaican nor Mexican. We’ll be talking about the challenges and rewards of writing authentic characters who are ‘other,’ our research methods, and the ways that, despite external differences, we were able to dig into our characters’ hearts.

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