Susan Dennard is an author who writes young adult novels that have nothing to do with humanitarian aid.
But when she came across an article about Islamic Relief USA last fall, she decided to use her platform as an author to support IRUSA’s work. So she auctioned off a signed book to raise money for charity — and to spread a message that’s close to her heart.
The article she read told how people in Louisiana were surprised and their stereotypes were challenged when Muslims from IRUSA’s disaster response team came out to help them in the wake of devastating floods.
“I was like this! This is what we need! This is the kind of information we need to be getting out there,” Dennard said. “There’s so much misinformation going around, and I just feel like whatever I can do to help change that message is my job as a writer. And one of the ways I can do that is to support the right charities, and that was why I picked Islamic Relief as my November charity.”
Dennard is a writer who cares deeply about the world.
She once thought she would save oceans from overfishing as a marine biologist. Then she found herself living in landlocked Germany, where marine biology jobs are scarce, so she took up writing books instead.
“Authors were like unicorns to me, so I didn’t actually think I could do it, and then I actually did do it,” she said.
Host B.C. Dodge said, “We’re first officially interviewing our first unicorn!”
Dennard’s first series told the tales of steam punk zombie-fighting ghostbusters, and her new series is fantasy involving magic and adventure.
What all of this means in a practical sense, is that young adults look to her to help shape their views about the world.
“We can change the way we perceive the world in what we present to them in our stories,” she said. “We can normalize different things. And that is I think the most important mission for artists right now — to change this dial on what’s normal because it’s gotten so skewed. … And because I especially write for teens, I have this ability to shape what they accept, what they look at and say no to — and that sort of responsibility I take very seriously and I’m trying my darndest to get it right.”
Dennard wants YOU, diverse podcast listeners, to get to writing too.
“Now is the time that we need to be sharing all of our stories, and if you have something to say, say it now … I am listening. I am looking,” she said. “So please, join me in writing and changing the dial on what’s normal.”
Listen to the podcast to find out about Dennard’s newsletter and advice for aspiring writers.
Find out what co-host Chancey said that made her tremble, and what B.C. learned from the interview.
And listen to find out about Dennard’s upcoming tour — then go meet her and tell her you heard about her here.