Love, Labels, and YA Literature for Queer Kids: Annameekee Hesik and Jeremy Jordan King Sound Off

In this exclusive author conversation, two out authors with new young adult books reflect on the important queer literature and real-life scenarios that inspired them.



Hesik: Note to self: Abbey gets some. So, when you drafted In Stone, did you have it in your mind that you were writing it for YA readers? How did that decision get made?

King: I didn't originally have that in mind. I just wanted to write a fantasy novel. But because it’s about a human character getting mixed up in the supernatural, it obviously gets compared to existing popular YA tiles. So I started to experiment with the genre — see where I could take it. For instance, I acknowledge that more than just young adults read young adult novels. My protagonist is on the older spectrum of YA. He's 22, so maybe he’ll draw more adults to the Soliloquy imprint.

Hesik: So true. Some of the most enthusiastic responses I’ve received are from my adult fans. They are like, "You nailed it," and "That was totally me!" One reader compared The You Know Who Girls to a favorite straight-girl-centric contemporary novel, but better because it's got lesbians. That was my hope — that lesbian readers could read a novel about a girl falling for a girl, and neither girl is addicted to drugs, or dies, or has something terribly tragic and horrible happen to her. Sometimes gay and lesbian books (and movies) are so depressing. And warped. Abbey's life if pretty ordinary, but she's a unique girl having her own experiences.

King: Same here. My protagonist is just a unique guy having his own experiences… With a monster… Made of stone. Totally normal. 



Jeremy Jordan King grew up in South Jersey, where his primary life goal was to become a mermaid. When that proved impossible, he decided the next best thing would be to move to New York City and study theater at Marymount Manhattan College. He lived an actor’s life for several years before he realized he’d be more satisfied as a writer. And he was. Besides fiction, he dabbles in essays, screenwriting, and illustration. He shares an apartment in Manhattan with his best friends and a strange little dog. In Stone is his first novel.

Annameekee Hesik came out when she was fifteen and has since been obsessed with rainbows.  After successfully surviving high school in Tucson, AZ, she went to college for six years and changed her major five times. She earned her BA in English Lit from UC Davis and her MA in Education from UC Santa Cruz. She now lives in Santa Cruz, CA, and when she isn’t mentoring new teachers or teaching high school English, she writes books that she hopes will help lesbian and questioning teens feel like they’re not the only you-know-who girls in the world. To learn more about Annameekee and her work, read her blog, and find out what she likes to mix into her macaroni and cheese, visit her website.

Tags: Books