In Jasmine H. Wade’s interview with bookscover2cover, she remembers writing her first “official story” in middle school about “a boy who followed a set of clues to catch a gorilla thief.” She knew at that young age she was a storyteller. Today, her short stories have appeared in Drunken Boat, TAYO Literary Magazine, Lunch Ticket, The Copperfield Review and others.
Adolescence and motherhood are themes that Jasmine explores in her work, whether they are considered young adult, fantasy/sci-fi, or literary. Two stories that explore these themes are “I Love You, I Hate You, Don’t Leave” and “Shadow of Death,” the winner of the Edward P. Jones Short Story Contest.
Jasmine also develops teacher handbooks for the Reading With Relevance curriculum, a project of Moving Forward Education. The focus of Reading with Relevance is social and emotional learning and “emphasizes books by authors of color about kids of color with reluctant readers in mind.” Some of the titles for 4th and 5th graders include Any Small Goodness; Bud, Not Buddy; Donovan’s Word Jar; Esperanza Rising; and Home of the Brave.
Asked what books she is passionate about, Jasmine shared the following:
“Where to begin? Dreamland by Sarah Dessen is the book that saved me when I was a teenager. It helped me feel seen. I come back to that book when I need to remember why representation is important and why sometimes it is important for characters to suffer. It serves the story, and it helps the reader. It can be tempting sometimes, especially when I really like a character, to protect them. That makes for pretty boring stories though, and it doesn’t do what I needed as a reader, which was to know that sometime else could feel the way that I felt. I want to someday write a book that is for some child what Dreamland was for the 13-year-old me.”
Another book fundamental to her writing practice is Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed, which directly inspired her story “Shadow of Death.”
Books that have inspired Jasmine’s interest in “ancestors as they relate to the process of growing up,” a present theme she explores in her work include:
And books on her recommended list for high school and college students that speak to the zeitgeist of the first quarter of the 21st century?
- Mama Day by Gloria Naylor because whether we realize it or not, we’re drawing on ancestor power to move through current trials.
- Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler because she is prophetic.
- Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi because the first quarter of the 21st century feels a little like a retelling of certain portions of the 20th century.
- Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante because it’s nearly impossible to stay completely sane when our world goes crazy. Confrontation with our particular brand of crazy is necessary to moving forward.
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz because everyone growing up should have a good friend and a good dose of truth.