The Hate U Give - author interview with Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas (@writerzambitionz) talks to us about her debut YA novel, The Hate U Give, which tells the story of Starr, who is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend by a police officer.
What inspired the book?
I was inspired to write the book back in 2010/2011 after the death of Oscar Grant, a young black man who was shot by police in Oakland, California. At the time, I was a lot like Starr – I attended a mostly white, upper class college while living in a mostly black, poor neighborhood. Every day, I found myself in two different worlds where I had to be two different people. I also heard two very different conversations about Oscar. At home, he was one of our own, but at school he may have deserved it. From my anger, frustration, and hurt, I wrote the short story that would later become The Hate U Give.
Why did you decide to write the book from Starr’s point of view?
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write the story from the point of view of a young black girl. With so many of these cases of unarmed black people who lose their lives, the victims are young - Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice to name a few - and so many young people are deeply affected by the losses. But a lot of times, the focus tends to be on young black men, and I wanted to show just how much it affects our girls as well.
How much of it is drawn from real life?
I tried not to draw from real life cases too much for multiple reasons. One, these are actual human beings we are talking about, not simply hashtags - it’s not my place to tell their stories. But I wanted Khalil to reflect them in a way.
Were you nervous writing about such a controversial subject?
Yes, I was extremely nervous - so much so that I was afraid to send it to literary agents. I knew it was a timely topic, but if you say, “Black Lives Matter” to 3 different people, you will get three different reactions. Sometimes they’re positive, and sometimes they’re not. But I felt like I wrote the story straight from my heart and I stood by my words, despite being nervous about how people would receive them.
Was it difficult to get the book published?
Surprisingly, no. While I was afraid to send it to literary agents, one day an agency held a Q&A session on Twitter. I asked if the topic of my book was appropriate for a Young Adult novel. A literary agent responded and said that not only was it appropriate, but that he would like to read it. A few months later, I signed with him, and a few months after that, 13 US publishers fought for the rights as did multiple UK publishers. The book I was so afraid of ended up being the book for me.
What were you most nervous about in the publishing process?
I was the most nervous about the reception. Even after all of the publishers fought for the book, I knew ultimately that potential readers could make or break it. So far, the response has been incredible.
How did you arrive at the title of the book and how do you think it reflects the story?
The title comes from the infamous “Thug Life” tattoo that Tupac Shakur had across his abdomen. So many people know him for that tattoo, but most people don’t know that it was actually an acronym for “The Hate U Give Little Infants F**ks Everybody.” He explained that as meaning that what society feeds into youth has a way of coming back and affecting us all. That’s exactly what happens in the book.
What message do you want readers to take away from the book?
That empathy is more powerful than sympathy.
What’s happening with the film adaptation and how involved are you with that?
The script for the film is currently in development. Audrey Wells is penning it, and George Tillman Jr is set to direct. I’ve been very involved in the process - from having day-long meetings with Audrey and George to multiple phone calls in a month where I give insight. I’ve been very happy with the process so far.
What has the reaction to the book been so far?
The reactions to the book amaze me every single day. I’ve had so many teens in particular reach out to me and thank me for writing it. I think that because the topic is so timely, that’s helped create a lot of buzz.
What role do you think literature has to play in examining difficult real-life issues?
Literature plays a huge role in examining difficult real-life issues. I see writing as a form of activism - it can give us windows into lives and issues that we may not otherwise have, thus promoting empathy. And when you understand an issue and share the feelings of those who are directly affected, you’re more likely to join in on the fight. Literature births activists.
What is next for you?
I’m currently working on my second YA novel. It is not a sequel, but more so a spin off of The Hate U Give. It’s set in the same neighborhood and some characters from The Hate U Give have major roles in it. I can’t say much about it, but it’s causing me to put my hip hop/rapper past to use.
The Hate U Give is published by Walker Books UK on 6th April.
King Butterfly thought Star and Marco were dating but also showed he was okay with it. He could run at speeds of at least 120 mph so if he didn’t like Marco he could have easily taken Marco out. Also Marco didn’t deny it the first time. Also this show will be the death of me.
I think this hashtag was BEYOND petty on both parts. It really shows how emotionally distraught our generation is and how too many of us refuse to take the higher road. I seen some funny memes, but I know many people actually think in the mentality of - ‘Tit for Tat’.
This isn’t about wasting time it’s about being malicious and vindictive, which ultimately is why we have countless amount of people who are bitter, fearing commitment, partially committing, angry, going ghost or holding grudges. Hurt people hurt people and this hashtag proved it.
Look back on AP’s 30 years with us with the hashtag #AP30
AP 174 // January 2003 // #AFI –THE MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASES OF 2003
“Sure, we could go on forever about how rad 2002 was for new music, but we’re too psyched about next year to care. Check out what’s in store in ’03 from AFI, Saves The Day, Thursday, Dashboard Confessional, The White Stripes, Thrice, The Mars Volta, Alkaline Trio, Godsmack, Andrew W.K., CAVE IN (official), The Dillinger Escape Plan, Poison the Well, The Locust and many, many more. Plus, we sneak-peek 2003’s most anticipated movies, dishing out exclusive dirt on T3, X-Men 2, Daredevil, The Hulk, two new Matrix movies, and others you’re waiting for some pirate with a camcorder to upload so you can see them early.”
오늘 하루도 저물어가요 🌑다들 어떤 하루였어요? 하고싶은 말이 너무 많아서 너무 아쉬워요ㅋㅋ잉 저 해시태그를 너무 많이 달아서 글이 안달렸었나봐요 인스타 초보😂 이 기회를 맞아 저도 우리 멤버들한테 하고싶은 말 간단히 해볼까해요ㅎㅎ
해찬 -내가 아끼고 귀여워하는 재간둥이 막내 해찬이 좀만 덜 까불면 얼마나 더 귀여울까☺️ 마크 -내반쪽 마크 매번 말했지만 형은 언제나 너의 편이야
윈윈 -내칭구윈윈 둘도 없는 나의 베프 워아이니
도영이형 -도영맘 나를 항상 챙겨주는 따뜻한 도영이형 항상 고마워형 밥사주세요
쟈니형 -쟈니파파 같이 있으면 든든하구 아늑한 내 룸메형 요즘 밤마다 같이 게임하는거 너무 재밌어요 ㅋㅋ
태용이형 - 나의운명태용이형 연습생때부터 지금까지 우린 절대로 떨어진적이 없는거 같아요 이건 거의 뭐 운명이죠 이왕 운명된거 죽을때까지 운명하자 형
유타형 - 산남자유타형 형이랑 대화할때마다 잘 통해서 너무 좋아요 우리 앞으로도 많이 얘기해요형
태일이형 - 막내 아!아니다 맏형이였지 태이리횽ㅋㅋ 생각은 누구보다 깊죠 놀때 역시 나랑잘맞아👍앞으로도 제 응석 받아주세요 #계속해서함께하자 #그리고여러분도요#능숙한해시태그 #인스타고수등극#NCT127 #Limitless #무한적아 #재현#Jaehyun
Trans: Today is coming to an end 🌑 Everyone, how was your day? I want to say many things it’s too badㅋㅋ I used too many hashtags so i didn’t put a caption. Insta novice😂 I will take this opportunity to say things I want to say to the members brieflyㅎㅎ
Haechan - talented maknae haechan whom i cherish how cuter would he get if he behaved better Mark - my other half mark, I always tell you but hyung is always by your side Winwin - my chinggu winwin, my one and only best friend wo ai ni (i love you in chinese) Doyoungie hyung - doyoung mom, always caring for me, warm doyoungiehyung thank you always, please buy me food Johnny hyung - johnny papa my roomate hyung, always reliable and cozy when i’m with him. recently it’s so fun when we play game together these nightsㅋㅋ Taeyongie hyung - my fated taeyongie hyung, from when we were trainees til now i think we haven’t been seprated before. i think we can call this fate. let our fate continue til we die, hyung Yuta hyung - Mountain man Yuta hyung, when talking to hyung i like really like that we connect well, lets also talk more in the future, hyung Taeilie hyung - maknae-ah! nope you’re the oldest hyung, taeilie hyungㅋㅋ your thoughts are deeper than anyone else, as expected we get along👍 please continue to coddle me #LetsContinueToBeTogether #AndEveroneYouAlso #ExperiencedHashtags #PromotedToInstagramMaster
After watching how initial US media reports ignored Elliot Rodger’s misogynistic motivations, then seeing the “isolated madman” theories start spinning, many people engaged in multiple conversations that showed how high the levels of anger and frustrations about these problems are. I was grateful that the hashtag #YesAllWomen was started as a counterbalance to the “not all men” refrain. There have been tens of thousands of tweets like these in the last 24 hours.
Backlash to change, women’s rights, diversity, is seriously in full swing right now. In this case, it’s evidenced not just in MRA/PUA violence and hate, but in resistance to seeing violence against women as the gender-based hate that it is. That is a big scary fact for too
many people. I’ve spoken to so many who think it’s impossible, the scope is so big. People think that this is a “man v women” issue which is dead wrong. This is toxic masculinity and dominance over philosophies based in status, evident in all of our systems, and it dehumanizes women and men both. In the US misogyny and racism are dimensions of same.
the latest hashtag: the police have recently murdered my brother Christian Taylor, 19 years old (collegiate football player) who was unarmed & recently tweeted “I don’t wanna die too young.” this is getting too close to home for people not to care. We are doing the things we are told as black people will make us credible in society and are still at risk of being killed by the police. #ChristianTaylor #BlackLivesMatter #Imtired #AmINext #WhenWillWeSeeChange how many more people need to die, how many more hashtags, how many more riots, how many more marches need to happen for there to be some change?
A few hours later, Calvin found himself in the exact same spot. Just waiting. It had been exactly four hours since he got here, six hours since she was in surgery. It terrified him to think about her dying. It gave him chills from head to toe thinking about not hearing her laugh or seeing her smile. He was sure everyone in the room was terrified. Selena, Ed and Ellie had arrived an hour before. The silence in the room was almost unbearable. No one wanted to voice their thoughts about how afraid they were but they were all thinking the same thing.
"Excuse me.“ Calvin said as he got up. He almost ran to the bathroom. When he walked into the bathroom, he broke down. Sobs wrecking through his body, hot tears spilling from his eyes. He had never felt so hopeless in his life. Not being able to do anything to save her killed him. Why her? She didn’t deserve this.
He composed himself and walked back into the room. He saw the doctor and sprinted towards him. "How is she?” He asked him, out of breath.
"We’ve managed to successfully remove the shards of glasses from her chest. We’ve also repaired the tissue that was ruptured when the bigger piece of glass punctured her side. She’s stable for now. There’s not much we can do from now on. We just have to wait, it’s a matter of time. She’s quite lucky there wasn’t any head injuries. Her situation seemed worse than it actually was. Now she has to go through recovery.“ The doctor explained and everyone in the room felt relieved. She was going to be okay. "But we still have to keep a close watch on her. She’s out of the woods but she still has long road ahead of her.” Taylor would find that funny because it was totally a pun and that doctor was totally making a reference to her song. “Anyways, you’ll be able to see her in an hour, after she wakes up.” The doctor smiled. “Your wife is a fighter, Mr. Wiles.” Wife, he did like the sound of that.
Calvin was impatiently waiting, walking around trying to stop himself from running to her room. His head snapped up when he heard the nurse. “Is there any Adam here?” He instantly made his way over to her.
“That’s me.” He told her.
“Great, she’s been asking for you since she woke up and we were checking her vitals. Follow me.” She smiled and started walking along the corridor. “She’s a stubborn one that’s for sure."
"Something like that.” He laughed slightly. He walked in her room and saw her laying in bed, watching TV. “Is there someone here that goes by the name of Taylor?” He grinned when she saw him. He sat down on the chair next to her bed and took her hand in his. He used his other hand to caress her cheek. “You scared the hell out of me today, baby.” He whispered, kissing her forehead.
"I’m sorry.“ She kissed his lips. He stayed there looking at her for a moment. She was going to be okay.
"I thought I was going to lose you.” He repeatedly kissed her face, trying to savor the feeling of being with her. That day made him realize just how important she was to him. How she had become a part of his life he never imagined he could lose. “I love you so much. You’re my whole world and I was about to lose you today.” He shook his head, feeling tears starting to form in his eyes.
"But you didn’t. I’m right here.“ She hugged him, careful not to hurt herself. He started crying, his face hidden on the crook of her neck. He was crying because she was going to get better, he was relieved. After the hell that the past eight hours had been, she was going to be okay. He was mentally exhausted from thinking about all the scenarios that could have happened. But the most important thing was that she was going to be alright.
//Four weeks later
"You do know that you don’t have to do everything for me, right?” She raised her eyebrow at him as he reached for her phone on the bedside table. “I might not be able to walk but I can reach my phone.” He laughed as he handed it to her.
"As long as you’re still healing, I’ll do absolutely anything for you.“ He kissed her head before sitting down next to her, watching friends.
Her side wound had healed and the cuts on her chest had as well, the worst was her leg which she still had a lot more weeks before she could take out her cast. For now she was in a wheelchair and Calvin wouldn’t leave her side. He was constantly checking if she needed anything. He even cancelled some gigs so he could be with her although she insisted she had plenty of people who could help. He didn’t listen. The fear of something happening to her had been on his mind since the accident.
He heard her giggles, while she scrolled down her phone. She was probably on tumblr. He smiled. She had so many people who were maybe just as afraid as he was about losing her. He couldn’t help but feel glad that there so many people in the world who made her smile. "Babe, listen to this, it’s so funny.” She said and he looked at her. “‘Yo how does Taylor roll?’ In a wheelchair’ and the hashtag killed me, listen, 'too soon?’ What can I say that’s how I roll, missing the wheelchair though.” She burst out in giggles immediately and although he didn’t exactly get tumblr humor he laughed with her.
"I’m so glad you’re okay.“ He whispered into her ear. She kissed his cheek, happy that he was next to her. "Do you need anything, babe?” He asked her after a few minutes.
"Food and not just any food. I want McDonald’s.“ She giggled. He shook his head and stood up.
"Your wish is my command.” He kissed her head. “Want to come with me?” He proposed, smirking because he knew the answer. She was dying to get out of the house, she had been asking him for days now but he was always afraid that the paparazzi would be too aggressive. But right now, at 2 am, it seemed like the perfect time to leave the house.
He carried her downstairs so they could get her wheelchair. He set her down on the couch and went to get her wheelchair.
"I’m really starting to hate this thing.“ She muttered as he helped her onto the wheelchair.
"I know, baby. Just a few more weeks though.” He pushed her towards the door. The drive to the nearest McDonalds was quick, about ten minutes. After they got their meals, Calvin pushed Taylor to the empty parking lot.
“Want to do something fun?” She pretended to be surprised, gasping.
"Did I just hear what I think I did? Is Adam Richard Wiles, the one who’s been a no fun for the past four weeks suggesting that we should do something fun?“ She laughed and he rolled his eyes at her.
"Let’s go.” They ran around, him pushing her wheelchair in the empty parking lot. It felt normal, their laughs were loud. Happiness radiating through both of them. They were alone, well almost alone because the McDonald’s workers were looking upon them with a smile on their faces. And even though they may be one of the most famous couples in the world, they were normal and they loved each other. That was something no one could take away from them.
I’ll be posting more one shots this next week and might even post another one tonight :)
Hope you like it haha