Interview with Julie Ann Peters, Part One
That small rock you’ve been living under may be comfy, but if you haven’t heard of children’s/YA author Julie Ann Peters then it just may be about time for you to crawl out from under it. One year she’s a National Book Award Finalist. The next she’s got a Lambda Literary Award winner on her hands. I took some time to ask Ms. Peters some questions and she was kind enough to respond, in spite of the fact that I work for her brother. As a result, you get to hear her heartfelt plea for a little banning, thoughts on her bro "the nerd" (sorry, John), and the "scary time sink" that is blogging.
Loved Luna. Loved Between Mom and Jo. I don’t read much YA literature, but I made a point to read these. So how is it that you have become perhaps the premiere YA author working in the field of Queer Lit?
The boyz in the QTLC (Queer Teen Lit Club), David Levithan, Alex Sanchez, Brent Hartinger know I could take them down. Wimps. I told them, “Fear me,” and they do. It wasn’t even my idea to write gay lit; in fact, when my editor suggested it, I said, “Are you crazy? Are you insane?” I’d been struggling for ten years to establish myself as a children’s writer and I thought, If I write this lesbian love story that my editor, Megan Tingley, wants, all my books will be banned. I’ll be blacklisted. I’ll never make a living as a writer.
It’s been a journey.
I wouldn’t say I’m the premiere writer for our community. Not even close. I’m just trying to tell the truth of our lives. What’s important to me is being picked for the dedicated tag team who are assuming responsibility for embracing queer youth in our writing.
Have you ever been banned? I think we can probably assume that not every response to your work has been all kittens and roses, but outright banning is an ugly business. Have you ever had to deal with it?
I haven’t received an official embossed letter that reads, “Dear Julie Anne Peters,
“We are pleased to inform you that your book has been banned in our school district/city/state/country of origin…”
You can’t ban a book that never makes it into a library. When I hear about authors who are up in arms about their book being banned, or removed from reading lists, I confess to a sliver of jealousy. I’d actually love for my books to be banned so at least I’d know they were once accessible to readers who needed them.
PLEASE. Ban my books.
So I work for your brother. In the interest of full interviewer/interviewee disclosure I’ll just mention that. With a bro as a librarian and yourself as an author, did your early years come across as particularly literary?
El oh el. We had one rule at the dinner table: No reading while you’re eating. That law was strictly imposed for my brother, the nerd.
John may have a different perception, though dubious doubt should be cast on his observations, since his nose was always buried in a book, but no, we weren’t an über literary family. I don’t remember anyone else besides John being a reader. Certainly, I wasn’t. Our father was a math teacher. Our mother could slam out the New York Times crossword in about ten minutes. Does that count?
We did read lots of cereal boxes. (We were allowed to read at breakfast.)
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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