Book Giveaway & Author Interview: The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

Welcome to Debut Author Sarah Jamila Stevenson!

Sarah Jamila Stevenson is a writer, artist, graphic designer, introvert, closet geek, enthusiastic eater, struggling blogger, lapsed piano player, household-chore-ignorer and occasional world traveler. Her previous lives include spelling bee nerd, suburban Southern California teenager, Berkeley art student, underappreciated temp, and humor columnist for a video game website.

Throughout said lives, she has acquired numerous skills of questionable usefulness, like intaglio printmaking and Welsh language. She lives in Northern California with her husband, who is also an artist, and two cats with astounding sleep-inducing powers.

She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Mills College in Oakland, CA, a post-baccalaureate certificate in Printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute, and a BA in Art Practice and Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley.


Night owl, or early bird?
Definitely a night owl! Mornings do not agree with me. It takes me hours and two cups of coffee just to feel awake, but I’m often working until 10 or 11 at night.

Pet Peeves?
People who drive like jerks (who I can only assume are actually jerks in some fundamental way). Cyclists who don’t obey road rules. Wet socks resulting from not knowing the bathroom rug was wet and stepping on it. Chocolate that is maliciously hiding coconut inside. People who litter. Intolerance. There are lots of others. I’m a cranky-pants.

Skittles or M&Ms?
I like them both, but more often than not I’ll pick M&Ms

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
It’s hard not to think of the song “Brimful of Asha” by Cornershop in reference to my narrator, Asha. Not because of the song’s content so much (it’s a tribute to a famous and prolific Bollywood film singer) but because of the name connection and the fact that the band Cornershop plays a style of music that’s kind of hybrid…like Asha.

If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?
Right now isn’t too shabby. But if I had to pick a time and place in the past, maybe somewhere in the Roman Empire before it started to decline…assuming I could choose to be a reasonably well-off person rather than a slave.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
That’s a tough one. Every time I visit somewhere, it becomes a potentially awesome place I might like to live. If pressed, though, I think I’d like to live somewhere in the UK–England or Wales. I lived in London for a summer when I was a college student, and it was incredible.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
At different times, I wanted to be a ballet dancer, a major league baseball player (specifically, the first female major league baseball player–which would have been quite a feat considering I wasn’t even in Little League), a cartoonist and a stand-up comic. By the time I got to junior high, I wanted to be a fashion designer.

How did you know you should become an author?
I actually did not originally intend to become an author, even though I always enjoyed writing and wrote a lot as a hobby. My mom, who has a Ph.D. in literature and teaches English and Humanities, always encouraged me to read and write a lot. But since I was about 11 or 12 I knew I wanted to be some kind of visual artist, and I went to college and majored in art planning to do something in commercial art–graphic design or illustration, probably.

By the time I got out of undergraduate school and finished one post-baccalaureate year of art school, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do. I worked in marketing for a couple of years at an internet company where I ended up doing some freelance writing on the side. That got me thinking: maybe I should do some more writing again. Writing every day for work made me realize that this was something that both fed my creative side and was something I could be disciplined enough to do on a daily basis. I started working on a novel, and realized I really needed more feedback and more education, so I applied for graduate school in Creative Writing. I finished my MFA in 2004, and the rest is history. Or will be. 🙂

Who are your favorite authors of all time?
I have so many favorites, but a few that I particularly love are Michael Ondaatje, Madeleine L’Engle, David Sedaris, and Neil Gaiman.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
There’s definitely a lot of me in my narrator, Asha, but there’s some of me in Miranda, too (the one who goes off to art school instead of doing something more academic…).
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
My figure drawing professor in college, Dewey Crumpler, once told the class during a critique: “Do not be afraid to step into the void.” When I’m holding myself back, when fear is keeping me from working and sapping my creativity, I try to remember that. I have it on a post-it above my computer monitor.

Favorite Food?
I’m pretty omnivorous, but I love Japanese and Italian food especially.

What’s your favorite season/weather?
Fall is definitely my favorite season. I also have a soft spot for winter because most of the plants are dead and I don’t suffer as many allergies. 🙂

What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit?
I have been known to watch the occasional episode of Ghost Hunters. Not regularly, but…more than a handful of times.

The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson:

Our philosophy is simple: Promote a latte-colored world! —from the Latte Rebellion Manifesto

When high school senior Asha Jamison gets called a “towel head” at a pool party, the racist insult gives Asha and her best friend Carey a great money-making idea for a post-graduation trip. They’ll sell T-shirts promoting the Latte Rebellion, a club that raises awareness of mixed-race students.

Seemingly overnight, their “cause” goes viral and the T-shirts become a nationwide fad. As new chapters spring up from coast to coast, Asha realizes that her simple marketing plan has taken on a life of its own-and it’s starting to ruin hers. Asha’s once-stellar grades begin to slip, threatening her Ivy League dreams, and her friendship with Carey is hanging by a thread. And when the peaceful underground movement turns militant, Asha’s school launches a disciplinary hearing.Facing expulsion, Asha must decide how much she’s willing to risk for something she truly believes in

Giveaway Details:
Up for giveaway is my once read review copy of The Latte Rebellion
Open to US only
Ends 3/6/11