Friday, July 15, 2016

Freak City (2014) by Kathrin Schrocke being made into a film

Twoyears ago, I came across a book, Freak City (2014) by KathrinSchrocke; translated from German by Tammi Reichel. This morning my friend and colleague (the one who is fluent in German) pointed me to a video in German with English captions (just be sure to click CC and select English if you're like me).  A movie is being made based on the novel!

There will be a 110min feature film, based on Kathrin Schrocke's novel. The film description includes the plot of Mike, who is 15-years-old. Basically, he’s one of those teens who seems to fall in love with love and perhaps thinks about sex a bit too much. He meets Lea, an intelligent girl who is full of life. She also happens to be Deaf since birth. Mika decides to take a sign language course partly to communicate with Lea and partly to show off to his ex-girlfriend but then he discovers that he’s really smitten with Lea. 

The main difference appears to be the spelling of their names but keep in mind that I am going back and forth between a German website to translations. 

Deaf characters will be played by Deaf actors with the film team including both Deaf and hearing members. Unfortunately because the film did not receive public funding they’re financing the shooting through crowdfunding.

Currently, they're in a Crowdfunding stage with hopes to begin filming in August in Berlin.

For more information, be sure to check out their Facebook group

If you'd like to start reading the book, the information is below. 
Freak City (2014) by Kathrin Schrocke; translated from German by Tammi Reichel
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Scarlet Voyage (January 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1623240050
ISBN-13: 978-1623240059

Book description:
Mika's heart is broken, until he sees Leah. A smart, beautiful, and brave girl, Leah has been deaf since birth. When Mika meets her for the first time, he feels something electric. They cannot communicate much, so Mika decides to take a sign language course. His family and friends are skeptical, and Mika soon grows weary, too. The world of deaf people is so much different than his own. Can their two worlds intersect? There is also Sandra, Mika’s ex-girlfriend, who he cannot seem to get over. But Mika cannot shake that Leah has captured his heart. . . . Author Kathrin Schrocke tells the story of two teens and their tender, quirky, and extraordinary love.

About the author:
Kathrin Schrocke was born in 1975 in Augsburg, Germany. She studied German and psychology in Bamberg. Schrocke has received numerous prizes and nominations for her work, including the Nettetaler Youth Book Prize (2010), and the nomination for the German Youth Literature Prize (2011) and the Hansjörg-Martin Prize for the best German Youth Thriller (2010). She lives in Berlin and is the author of numerous stories and plays, as well as novels for children and young adults.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Anime film, A Silent Voice, will be subtitled for Japanese viewers

Rocket News 24 reported today that an anime film about a bullied deaf girl will be shown in theaters with subtitles for Japanese audiences. Don’t get too excited; this is only being screen in Japan with Japanese subtitles but it is excellent news that the producers of A Silent Voice are starting to see that they have fans just like the series’ female lead who is Deaf.

“Manga creator Yoshitoki Oima’s A Silent Voice, titled Koe no Katachi (literally “The Shape of Voice”) in Japanese, begins with a new student transferring into elementary school student Shoya’s class. His new classmate is a deaf girl named Shoko, and as is sadly, yet often, the case, that difference makes her the target of bullies, with Shoya acting as the ringleader of her tormenters.
But bullying just leads to more bullying, and eventually the vicious circle comes back around and Shoya finds himself on the receiving end of taunts and jeers. Unable to form a lasting friendship throughout elementary and middle school, upon entering high school Shoya resolves to make amends for mistreating Shoko when they were younger, and the story follows his attempts at redemption and the challenges that arise along the way.
The manga began serialization in 2013, and has attracted enough critical and popular acclaim that it’s being adapted into a theatrical anime by the talented team at Kyoto Animation, with its opening scheduled for September 17. The trailer looks impressive, filled with the sort of careful yet emotional character animation that the studio has become known for.
But while nice visuals are always a plus, it’s the story of A Silent Voice, and its willingness to have a deaf character play a key role, that’s won praise for the franchise. As such, it’s only fitting that theaters nationwide will be showing the film with Japanese subtitles, for the benefit of the hearing impaired.
Making this move particularly surprising is the fact that most televised anime in Japan is broadcast without closed captions. Likewise, the majority of anime DVDs lack Japanese subtitling, preventing deaf fans viewers from fully enjoying a huge portion of the country’s animation output.
The decision to accommodate deaf audiences in a film featuring a deaf character is somewhat evocative of 2015 anime Miss Hokusai, in which the protagonist’s younger sister is blind. Japanese home video versions of the film include an audio option in which a narrator describes the on-screen settings and action for those who cannot see.”

All of the theaters that are scheduled to show A Silent Voice will show the subtitled version once a day at each of the locations between September 24 and 30. If you're in Japan and fluent in Japanese, this is excellent news. For the rest of us, we'll have to wait to see if this becomes available online.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Interview with Tone Deaf (2016) author Olivia Rivers

Tone Deaf (May 3, 2016) by Olivia Rivers
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Sky Pony Press (May 3, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 163450707X
ISBN-13: 978-1634507073

I first started learning about Olivia Rivers and hernovel Tone Deaf in 2013 when a former student tipped me off about this text that was available to readers on If you're interested in checking it out, you can find Tone Deaf here.
Rivers' last book was published by Red Sparrow Press and available through Amazon as an eBook.

Years ago, I noted that on Goodreads she explained,
I have to be honest: "Tone Deaf" was never intended to be read by others. I wrote the story out of frustration, when I was unable to find a book that featured a realistic main character with disabilities.
One day, on a whim, I posted the first chapter of “Tone Deaf” on The response I received was absolutely amazing and humbling. Apparently, I wasn’t the only reader frustrated by the lack of disabled main characters. “Tone Deaf” received over 1,000 hits within a week of being posted, and to this date, has over 750,000 hits.
Some readers have ventured to call “Tone Deaf” a “diverse” book, but I have another word for it: Realistic. In reality, not every person is perfectly healthy or functional. And not every person is white, straight, and good-looking. And, honestly, who would want that? The world would so boring without the diversity it presents us.
I truly hope "Tone Deaf" presents this diversity and reality in a way that readers can relate to. And, most importantly, I hope readers enjoy the characters and love-story within the book!"

Then in 2015, I offered to give feedback on the manuscript. From there, Olivia and I corresponded several times. I was even able to send pictures of a few items that would benefit Olivia’s Deaf character. I’m being purposely cryptic because I do not want to spoil a thing.

Olivia is certainly a writer who is open to feedback and to the revision process so I’m looking forward to reading this book again. You’ll have a chance to do so as well since Tone Deaf will be released on May 3rd in both Kindle and hardcover format. In the meantime, here is my interview with the author. 

Pictured with Olivia is her dog Romeo, who was the inspiration for the giant pit-bull in the novel.
SP: What inspired you to include a deaf character that uses sign language?
OR: I have a neuromuscular disease, so I’ve always been interested in characters who have atypical physical abilities. They’re often completely absent from Young Adult books, or if they’re present, the entire plot revolves around them struggling with their physical condition. Don’t get me wrong, some of these books are gorgeous and much-needed. But I really wanted to tell a story where the main character has accepted their physical differences and moved on to face other issues.
At the time I started writing TONE DEAF, there was a huge trend of books featuring bands. Reading a few of them sparked the basic set up for TONE DEAF—one hearing main character who is a musician and convinced that deafness would be the end of the world, and one deaf main character who shows him that there's so much more to life than whether or not you can hear.

SP: What research did you do to make your character believable?
OR: I didn’t do enough research for the first draft of the book, which I definitely regret. But I ended up doing a lot more research for future drafts. I found the most helpful resource to be online forums for Deaf individuals, because I could read about personal experiences with both the medical aspects of deafness and also Deaf culture. I also watched a lot of YouTube videos of people using ASL so I could get a feel for the language. This was some of the most fun research I’ve ever done! One YouTube channel I found translates famous poems into ASL, and it let me view poetry in a whole new, beautiful light.
Of course, Professor Sharon Pajka provided a huge amount of help by beta-reading TONE DEAF and giving me lots of advice on how to make Ali’s deafness more realistic. Her suggestions gave me quite a few light-bulb moments, and I’m so grateful I had her feedback during the editing process.

SP: Ha ha, thanks. I’m glad to help. When did you write your first book and how old were you?
OR: I was twelve when I wrote my first novel, but that book is buried away deep on my old hard-drive, and it will never see the light of day! But I’ve been happily addicted to writing ever since. I began writing TONE DEAF at fifteen, and as I wrote it, I started posting chapters on The story ended up getting over a million hits, which eventually led to me signing with my agent at seventeen and receiving my book deal a few months after.

SP: Where do you get your ideas for your books?
OR: I draw my ideas from a huge variety of sources, and it’s very rare that I can pinpoint exactly where they come from. In the case of TONE DEAF, I’d been listening to a lot of music, reading books about bands, and brainstorming new ideas for characters. It all kind of mashed together in my mind to form the plot that currently exists. At first, I actually didn't plan on sharing the story with others. But then stories with bands started to get increasingly popular, so I figured I'd try sharing mine on Wattpad. I'm so glad I did, because posting the story has allowed me to connect with tons of fantastic readers from all over!

SP: What do you hope that readers will take away or learn from Tone Deaf?
OR: I hope readers will walk away realizing how empowering it is to take charge of your own future and defy expectations. And I also hope readers receive the message that it’s perfectly okay to ask for help as you start to forge your own future.

SP: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books?
OR: Publishing takes an extremely long time. Until I started working on TONE DEAF, I never realized that the publication process can stretch on for multiple years, even after the writing portion is complete. However, I also learned that this long journey is well worth it in the end!

SP: Do you have opportunities to meet your readers? When you do, what kinds of things do they say?
OR: No, I generally don’t meet readers in-person. However, I do have readers email me, and it’s always so much fun to hear from them! I’ve gotten emails from all over the world, and it’s really been an honor to connect with so many different people who all share a love for stories. One thing that always surprises me is how some people write to me very formally, as if they’re addressing an important scholar. It always confuses me a bit, because even though I’m an author, I’m definitely just a normal girl.

SP: What advice do you have for young readers?
OR: Never be ashamed to embrace your love for books, no matter what others might think. I used to be really embarrassed that I read and wrote Young Adult books, because many people in the book world turn their noses up at the genre. But ignore those book snobs! Stories of all types have the potential to positively impact people, and it doesn’t matter what genre or label they fall under. 

SP: Anything you'd like to add...
OR: Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Sharon! I’ve had such a fantastic time these past few years working with a Deaf character and getting to know and appreciate Deaf culture. While I’m a little sad that I won’t be working on Ali’s story any longer, I'm so grateful for the chance to share TONE DEAF with readers!
For more information about Olivia Rivers, visit
For a copy of Tone Deaf, click below: