In part 2 of interviews conducted around the Trans Writers, Kids, and Books event (you can find our interview with Kyle Lukoff from before the event in an earlier blog post), this time we speak with Lambda and Stonewall Award-winning author Kacen Callender (Hurricane Child, This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story, and the forthcoming King and the Dragonflies and Felix Ever After).
What was one of your favorite books as a child? Did you see yourself in any of the characters?
The Animorphs was a favorite series! Before I transitioned, and when I still identified as a girl, Cassie was the first time I saw myself as a black girl.
How did your journey lead you to writing trans narratives for children?
My journey parallels my own realization that I’m trans: I was watching Degrassi, and I realized I’m trans because of a character named Adam. Around the same time, I was writing This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story with a cis male main character. Writing Nate helped me explore my gender identity even more, and when I began my transition, I started writing my first trans character, Felix, the main character of Felix Ever After.
What was the most surprising aspect of the publishing process?
I’ve been surprised by the amount of love and support for my books, and incredibly lucky to win the Stonewall Book Award and Lambda Literary Award, both for Hurricane Child. Still, even with the amount of support and love, it’s also easy to see the implicit bias a lot of readers still hold for marginalized characters, and it’s a constant reminder of how much work still needs to be done.
Are there any books you want to recommend?
Always! While there still needs to be a growth in trans and non-binary characters, I’m really excited about I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver. For queer characters of color, I also love How To Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters and Odd One Out by Nic Stone. Queer middle-grade books that I love include Ashley Herring Blake’s Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World and The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
That’s all for now—thanks for these amazing questions!
A Conversation about Trans Writers, Kids, and Books took place on Thursday, July 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the Children's Department at Parkway Central Library. This was a free event.