Welcome Ball State's 2023 Writer-in-Residence

Alicia D. Williams is the author of Genesis Begins Again, which received the Newbery and Kirkus Prize honors, was a William C. Morris Award finalist, won the Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe Award for New Talent, and was praised by the New York Times as a “stunning debut novel. . . reminiscent of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye.” Genesis Begins Again is a deeply sensitive and compelling novel that tells the story of a thirteen-year-old who must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself. Williams’s picture books, Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston, and Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress all received starred reviews. Her most recent book, The Talk, is a gentle and ultimately hopeful story that details the conversation far too many Black and Brown Americans must have with their children. Williams loves to speak on themes such as the power of storytelling, finding purpose, becoming a writer, and mining our lives for stories. Her love for education stems from conducting school residencies as a Master Teaching Artist of arts-integration. She infuses her passion for drama, movement, and storytelling to inspire students to write.

Genesis Begins Again

Thirteen year-old Genesis Anderson hates her dark skin shade and kinky, coily hair. She prays every night for one thing—to be beautiful. If she's beautiful like her lighter Mama, then Grandma will love her more, the ruthless taunts at school will end, and most importantly, Dad will stop drinking. 

Singing becomes her only solace, so when a school talent show is announced, she wonders if this might be her one true chance to win Dad’s approval and make her family whole again.  But will she be able to get up on stage, as black as she is, and sing? Drawing strength from Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Etta James—their music and who they were—Genesis harnesses their power into finding her own voice.

Praise for Genesis Begins Again

“One of the best books I have ever read…will live in the hearts of readers for the rest of their lives.”
— Colby Sharp, founder of Nerdy Book Club

“An emotional, painful, yet still hopeful adolescent journey…one that needed telling.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Public Events Featuring Alicia D. Williams

  • Tuesday, November 7: Alicia D. Williams "Writing for Young People," Pittenger Student Center Ballroom at 7:30 p.m. 
  • Wednesday, November 8: Community Meet & Greet Pizza Party with Alicia D. Williams. Ross Center (1110 W 10th St in Muncie) at 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 9: A Reading with Alicia D. Williams (Featuring a Conversation with Ball State Graduate Ashley C. Ford), Burris Laboratory School Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public. Ms. Williams will be available to sign books after each event and refreshments will be served. After 7 p.m., free parking is available in most campus lots and garages.

The Ball State Writer-in-Residence program is bringing Newbery Honor-winning author Alicia D. Williams to Muncie for a week to have conversations with the elementary and middle school students in our community schools and after-school programs who received free copies of Genesis Begins Again. The residency is sponsored by the Creative Writing Program in the Department of English with generous support from the Efroymson Family Fund, the College of Sciences & Humanities, & the Office of the President, as well as invaluable co-sponsorship from the Office for Community Engagement, the Department for Women’s, Gender, and African American Studies, Muncie Community Schools, Burris Laboratory School, the Ross Center, & Loudmouth Books. 

Questions? Please contact Professor Jill Christman

Watch Alicia D. Williams’s message to Muncie students

Alicia D Williams

Visit Ms. Williams’s YouTube channel & listen to her read the first chapter of Genesis Begins Again

First Chapter

Here’s a treasure chest full of teaching resources for all of Ms. Williams's books—including reading guides, activities, & vocabulary lists from TeachingBooks

Treasure Chest