Sunday, February 3, 2013


Since 2008, SCBWI has hosted an invaluable LGBTQ&A at their national conferences.  Hosted by Lee Wind (I’m here. I’m queer. What the hell do I read?), the LGBTQ&A is a great place for writers and illustrators to talk with editors, agents, and authors about issues and the current market for stories with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming or questioning youth characters and themes. 

Left to Right: Bruce Coville, Jane Yolen, Lee Wind, Michael Strother and Ellen Hopkins

This year the panel was honored to welcome Jane Yolen, (author of over 300 books for children and teens), Bruce Coville, Ellen Hopkins, and editor Michael Strother. In the opening remarks, Jane was asked about her book SISTER LIGHT, SISTER DARK where she offered insights into the matriarchal society in the story. She was followed by Bruce Coville who when talking about AM I BLUE? said that some people didn’t think humor had a place in LGBTQ. But Bruce pointed out that laughter could be an entry point on the topic.

It was a great segue into Ellen Hopkins’s comments about normalizing through books. There was a heart wrenching moment when she talked about the struggle of some kids and teens, about suicide and depression because of bullying or confusion or lack of acceptance. And Ellen said that until we get to a place where kids are no longer killing themselves, we as authors need to keep writing about LGBTQ topics. Normalizing through books

The panel got into a discussion on craft, and Jane told the attendees that their characters should come about organically. Let them tell you their story. Michael, an editor at Simon Pulse, told the group that it’s important that their characters have other attributes, and that they’re not just gay. Make them real, fleshed-out people. 

Towards the end, a great Q&A session helped the large group of attendees get specific answers to their writing questions. It was comfortable and exciting, and writers and illustrators were able to stay after to talk privately with the panel. 

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  1. This was a great event! I would love to see more smallish group discussions like this--ideally for people interested in writing all kinds of diverse characters. It feels like we're at a point where everyone agrees more diversity in kidlit is needed, but a lot of people are apprehensive or uncertain about writing characters who are different from them. Thanks for this fun, safe, warm gathering. I look forward to more in the future!

  2. I would have loved to have gone to this social event as well, but I was at the Illustrator Social. Thank you so much for blogging about this special intimate event, that now I get to read and reflect on what I want to say through my own work. Again, thank you!!