DiYA Author Spotlight: Julie Anne Peters
Julie Anne Peters is the critically acclaimed author of numerous children’s and young adult novels, including the National Book Award finalist Luna, the Lambda Book Award winner Between Mom and Jo, and the Stonewall Honor Book Keeping You a Secret. According to her official bio, “She lives in Lakewood, Colorado, with her partner, Sherri, and far too many cats. The cats are under the impression that they’re creative geniuses, since they spend a majority of their day walking back and forth across her computer keyboard. They probably generate more words per day than she does, but who can read cat gibberish?”
From a 2005 interview with Malinda Lo at AfterEllen:
Malinda Lo: What made you decide to write about gay teens?
Julie Anne Peters: I did not choose to write a young adult lesbian love story. It was really my editor who came to me and said, “Why don’t you write a young adult lesbian love story?”
ML: Was this just in conversation?
JAP: It was just in casual conversation….We were just having lunch, and we were talking about our families. She was going to marry her longtime boyfriend finally, after they had lived together for ten years, and Sherri and I…had just celebrated…our 25th anniversary. And Megan said, “Well, why don’t you write me a young adult lesbian love story?” And I said, “Are you crazy? Are you insane?” I said, “Would you publish that?” She said, “Absolutely. I would publish that if it was good.”
ML: How was Keeping You a Secret received?
JAP: Even before it was released I started getting hundreds and hundreds of emails. I just never realized what a hunger there was for the literature.
ML: You’ve said that in Far From Xanadu [which has since been republished as Pretend You Love Me] you wanted to dispel the myth that small towns were homophobic. Do you feel that way about the town that you live in?
JAP: I think that when you grow up in a community, any kind of community, and you grow up there, you go to school there, and everybody in that neighborhood knows you, whether it’s in a small town or in a neighborhood, that they don’t look on you so much as being gay…they look on you more as being a human being. So in this book I wanted to tell a story where being gay was not so much central to who this person was but incidental to her character…. I hope there’s always room for coming-out stories, for love stories, because I just think that’s where teens are in their developmental process….
They’re so unique, our coming-out stories, that we have to kind of learn to love and accept ourselves at the same time that we’re falling in love with somebody else. I just think that is an interesting phenomenon. I hear a lot of librarians and editors say, “Oh it’s just another coming-out story.” But those are important stories for teens. I think we have to acknowledge that that’s where they are in life. And you know, how many straight love stories are there? Come on, we can afford to have four or five.
Visit Julie Anne Peters at her website or follow her on Twitter.