Wordplay and the Need for Great Stories

Needs Blog Graphic

The Loft’s inaugural Wordplay festival is almost here! This upcoming weekend is packed with great conversations, helpful booksellers, and most importantly, amazing stories. Through the Loft’s spring theme of Needs, we’ve been thinking about and discussing all the ways in which we need stories in order to live, as well as the things stories need to live.

So, to get you ready for the festival, here are a few new books by some of our fantastic Wordplay authors that line up with the storytelling needs we’ve been writing about:

Fairy Tales and the Need to Rewrite:

A Tear in the Ocean by H.M. Bouwman is a wildly inventive historical fantasy that weaves old fairy tales and legends into its very new and original story. Featuring a diverse cast of characters and multiple timelines, this middle-grade novel will leave you marvelling at what stories can do with old ones.

Women and the Need to Know

White Dancing Elephants by Chaya Bhuvaneswar focuses on the stories of women of color as they face violence and harassment from the outside world and from each other. Despite all the adversity they face, these women persist in getting what they need, whether it’s her best friend’s husband or her best friend, whether it’s making art or staying alive.

Fanfiction and the Need to Keep Reading

This next novel is definitely not fanfiction, but it does explore the need to keep reading, the need to know more about a story. Women Talking by Miriam Toews is a timely novel based on the aftermath of a “real-life horror story,” set in an extremely troubled community. It deals with extremely difficult topics, but is well worth the conversation.

Monsters and the Need to Check Under the Bed

The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly by Rebecca K.S. Ansari is a middle grade novel in which Charlie’s brother has gone missing. The only problem is, according to everyone else, the brother doesn’t exist. Full of magic and mystery, Charlie and Ana set off into the unknown to find his missing brother, despite the fear of what could be out there.

Books and the Need for Variety

How can I pick just one title for this theme? There are way too many good options. There There by Tommy Orange? Magical Negro by Morgan Parker? Good Talk by Mira Jacob? Honestly, just read all of them. It’s worth it.

Worldbuilding and the Need for Rules

Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James has been described as a real-life Wakanda as well as the “African Game of Thrones.” However, I disagree with both of these, because this story is completely its own, original, well-crafted universe. It depicts a complex world full of demons and witches, a man named Tracker with a powerful nose, and a mysterious boy that everyone’s trying to find.

There are so many more amazing books that we’ll be celebrating this weekend, but hopefully these are enough to get you started on your way to Wordplay. We’re so excited to hear what you think! See you there!


Originally from Minnesota, Ellen Ray recently graduated from Boston College with a degree in English concentrating in creative writing. Amidst four years of writing workshops and analyzing independent films, she spent a semester wandering around New Zealand, including a night spent in a cave with local penguins. She has written for The Laughing Medusa, an all-female literary journal, as well as various nonprofit organizations. After various internships and an attempt at freelance writing, she found herself the Communications and Marketing intern at The Loft.