Q&A about YA with some actual YAs

I had the absolute pleasure of spending the evening with young adults from the Equality Crew in conversation with me at Two Friends Bookshop where they got to ask me questions (granted they did not know this was the plan until like ten minutes before it started but they did an AMAZING job anyway), about queer rep in young adult fiction.

Not only were they intelligent and insightful, but they were so funny and enthusiastic and I swear if I manage to finish my cryptid book it will be at least 17% directly because D was into the idea.

Queer kids need to see themselves in books, and not just on the YA contemporary fiction shelves, but the sci fi fantasy ones. The ones where the trauma has nothing to do with their queerness, but with fighting the alien invasion that threatens Earth or the cultists who are summoning giant demons.

Some of the questions were hard. One asked how I navigated being queer as a public school teacher and I answered honestly. I wasn’t out except to specific students who needed an ally. I’m in a heteronormative relationship and that insulated me from having to come out in my conservative school district. So my answer felt inadequate and I wish I’d had more advice to share.

It can be really difficult to get your books into the hands of your audience when you’re an indie author. Finding my readers, especially now that my job is primarily with younger kiddos (and definitely in a very conservative town), has been a challenge at best, and a total womp womp at worst.

But I definitely found some this weekend, and I could not be more grateful for them taking the time to share their energy with me.

A question someone asked was what do I want to see when I walk into a bookshop, and even though we were in one, I knew they meant a big box bookseller, so I hope I did Two Friends Bookshop justice in my vehemence that in indies we have the diversity of gate-keepers that is needed to make sure we have diversity in shelves and stock.

I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts later, but for now, I’m just grateful I had the opportunity and the audience and the experience. Plus, y’all, Bentonville during Pride month is rad as heck.

Published by jesmccutchen

Hello! I'm an aspiring author of humorous books about space gays and alien invasions. I might occasionally toss in a dragon or mermaid, and I can't wait to share my weirdness with the world.

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