Beyond Making Things Up (Something New) by Dean Gloster

             This month, I started working on, as a side project, a nonfiction book for young people that I lightly refer to as my “career suicide work,” about, among other things, white lies told about the U.S. civil war in the 1860s, and about that war’s origins—and the long shadows of those lies that still shade our lives (and politics) today. 

            I’ve got a cool, tangible hook for all that. And it’s fun, doing the research and sinking into history. But, of course, I plan it to be exactly the kind of book that Florida and Texas will ban in their schools as unduly accurate. Yes: It talks about racism and lies promoted to hide racism, which are actual things.

            I expect pushback.


           Still, everything in this sketchy world of publishing is a gamble, and some of the best advice I ever got was, “write what you’re passionate about.”

            I’m a writer. I believe in facts. I believe that books should contain truth. And I believe in young people: They are resilient enough and they deserve the truth, not just a saccharine-sweetened lie (or silence, the absence of truth, as books are banned and withheld.)


            As I write this, teachers in Manatee County, Florida are being threatened with felony prosecution if they don’t remove all “unapproved” books from their classrooms until a state-mandated vetting process is completed, for the benefit of Governor Ron DeSantis’s presidential ambitions. It’s described in more detail here. And for the first time ever, a state is disallowing an AP class approved by the college board: Florida will not allow accurate teaching of a rigorous course on African American Studies in any of its schools. (You can read the syllabus for the course here. I find nothing objectionable, but Florida’s governor doesn’t like facts and apparently doesn’t want black students—or those interested in the history of African Americans—to get AP credit.)


            As the U.S. mourns yet another black victim of police violence, with the latest horrific video released publicly last night, I'm outraged and exhausted by racism and its apologists and enablers. I’m a writer, and part of what I’d like to write this year is enthusiastically anti-racist. And honest.    

             So I'm working on the new project. At a minimum, it’ll also give be the incentive to finish these YA novels and get them out into the world before the boycotters get excited by the nonfiction.

            Good luck to us all.


Dean Gloster is a former stand-up comedian and a former law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court. His debut YA novel DESSERT FIRST is out from Merit Press/Simon Pulse. School Library Journal called it “a sweet, sorrowful, and simply divine debut novel that teens will be sinking their teeth into. This wonderful story…will be a hit with fans of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars and Jesse Andrews's Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” His YA short story “Death’s Adopted Daughter” is out now in the anthology Spoon Knife 6: Rest Stop from Autonomous Press. He is at work on two more YA novels, one in draft and the other in revision—and, apparently, a nonfiction book for young people.