Category Archives: Author Spotlight

10 LGBTQ Young Adult Authors to Know

In honor of LGBT Pride Month, here are 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer authors of young adult fiction to know:

T Cooper

  • Co-author with Allison Glock-Cooper of Changers Book 1: Drew, and several books for adults

Sara Farizan

  • Author of the Lambda Award-winning If You Could Be Mine and the forthcoming Tell Me How a Crush Should Feel
  • @SaraFarizan

Nina LaCour

David Levithan

  • Author of the Lambda Award-winning Two Boys Kissing, Boy Meets Boy, and co-author with John Green of Will Grayson, Will Grayson; and more

Malinda Lo

Alex London

Patrick Ness

Julie Anne Peters

  • Author of Lies My Girlfriend Told Me, the National Book Award finalist Luna, Keeping You a Secret, and more

Benjamin Alire Sáenz

  • Author of the Printz Honor book Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Last Night I Sang to the Monster, and several books for adults
  • @BenjaminAlireSa

Tess Sharpe

10 Asian Pacific American YA Authors to Know

Swati Avasthi

Melissa de la Cruz

Andrew Fukuda

Jenny Han

Malinda Lo

  • Author of Adaptation and Inheritance, William C. Morris Award finalist for Ash, and co-founder of Diversity in YA
  • | @malindalo | Tumblr

Ellen Oh

Cindy Pon

  • Author of Silver Phoenix, Fury of the Phoenix, the forthcoming Serpentine (Month9Books, 2015), and co-founder of Diversity in YA
  • | @cindypon | Tumblr

Padma Venkatraman

  • Author of the critically acclaimed and award-winning novels A Time to Dance, Climbing the Stairs, and Island’s End

Gene Luen Yang

  • Author of the National Book Award finalist and LA Times Book Prize winner Boxers and Saints, the Printz Award-winning and National Book Award finalist American Born Chinese, and co-author of Dark Horse Comics’ Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • | @geneluenyang

Laurence Yep

  • Author of dozens of books for children and young adults including the Gold Mountain Chronicles, winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and two-time Newbery Honor winner
  • Wikipedia page

10 African American Authors to Know

Lamar Giles

Alaya Dawn Johnson

Stephanie Kuehn

Kekla Magoon

Walter Dean Myers

  • The 2012–2013 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, and winner of the Margaret Edwards Award for lifetime achievement.

Jason Reynolds

Ni-Ni Simone

Sherri L. Smith

Jacqueline Woodson

Bil Wright

  • A playwright, director, and author of the YA novels Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy and Sunday You Learn How to Box.

DiYA Author Spotlight: Alex Sanchez

Alex Sanchez is the author of numerous young adult novels about gay teens, including the Lambda Award-winning So Hard to Say and the Rainbow Boys trilogy. Sanchez has a master’s degree in guidance and counseling and worked for many years as a youth and family counselor.

“[Rainbow Boys] came about when I was dealing with some of my own coming-out issues, and writing, and I kept coming across, either in the news or in my work as a counselor, young people who were coming out. I was just so inspired by their courage and their stories that as I was writing the book it sort of took form in terms of teenagers. And then the more I worked on it, my vision, or goal, I guess you could say, was to write the book I wanted to read when I was a teenager.”
— Alex Sanchez in an interview with Publishers Weekly

“What makes covert prejudice so hard to confront is its very subtlety. One way writers can address subtle biases is to do what we do best: WRITE stories that reveal how covert prejudices work. Such themes will be particularly valuable in YA stories, as it becomes less acceptable to openly bash LGBT young people. Many kids who in the past may have been openly harassed, bullied, and ostracized will undoubtedly experience more covert prejudice as our society incrementally moves toward true equality. We need to tell those stories.”
— Alex Sanchez on the subtle homophobia that writers of LGBT stories sometimes encounter, in an interview with Malinda Lo

Visit Alex Sanchez’s website.

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.

DiYA Author Spotlight: Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins was born in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, and lived in Ghana, Cameroon, London, New York, and Mexico before moving to California when she was 11. She is the author of many critically acclaimed books for children and young adults, and the editor of the forthcoming anthology Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices, which will be published by Candlewick this fall. She frequently blogs about life between cultures at her website, Mitali’s Fire Escape.

“Living between cultures means that you don’t feel like you fit either in your community of origin or in mainstream Americana. It means that you’d better learn to flex your spirit so that you can eventually feel at home in many places or that you’ll spend a bulk of your formative years feeling disenfranchised. Through stories, immigrant, adopted, and bi-racial kids can achieve the flexibility needed to survive life between cultures, as well as to make themselves feel at home.”
— Mitali Perkins in an interview with Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

“I’m proud to be an Asian American author, and yet hope that many young readers from all different backgrounds will enjoy my stories. I don’t like being automatically shelved in the multicultural section, and feel that being labeled like that sometimes hinders my books from getting into the right hands or more hearts. Some of my books are about race, but in others, like the First Daughter books and Monsoon Summer, ethnicity plays only a small part in the plot.”
— Mitali Perkins in an interview with Cynsations

Find out more about Mitali Perkins and her books at her website, or follow her on Twitter.

DiYA Author Spotlight: Melissa de la Cruz

Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous young adult novels, including The Au Pairs series and the Blue Bloods series, as well as her semi-autobiographical novel Fresh Off the Boat. According to her official bio, “Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).”

“Transition to life in America was very hard. It’s still hard! LOL. My husband (who is American and from the Midwest) says that I don’t know how to do anything. I expect everything to be cleaned up after me, like a little princess. I guess half of me grew up very entitled and the other half is kind of this flinty, no-nonsense immigrant. I understand the dynamic of rich communities, the insulation, the snobbery, but I also understand what hardscrabble struggle is like.” — Melissa de La Cruz on growing up in Manila as a “rich kid” before moving to the U.S. (

“I was raised Catholic in the Philippines, and religion is much more ingrained into our daily life than religion is here, so I grew up in a culture where during Lent, there was nothing on TV (NOTHING) and we would go to the cemetery for a week to honor our dead, and you would see men holding crosses and wearing crowns of thorns, whipping themselves, walking down the highway. So I grew up with all this fantastic imagery, and I’d always loved the story of Paradise Lost, and I also liked that Lucifer’s story – his fall – is not in the Bible, it’s more of a Catholic myth, a fairytale, and I liked that about it, because I could use it and not feel like I was blaspheming the religion I grew up with.” — Melissa de La Cruz on what drew her to write about vampires (Fantasy Book Addict)

Visit Melissa de la Cruz’s official website or follow her on twitter.

DiYA Author Spotlight: Laurence Yep

Laurence Yep was born in San Francisco in 1948. He is the author of more than 60 books for young people, including the Newbery Honor books Dragonwings and Dragon’s Gate. In 2005, he was awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal by the American Library Assocation, which honors honors an author or illustrator whose books have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.

“As a child I hated Chinese school. I wanted to be as American as possible. Then, in my early twenties, I became very interested in my Chinese roots. For years after that, I thought that my function as a Chinese-American writer was to act as a bridge between two cultures. Now, though, I am not so sure that it is possible to blend two cultures together. Asian cultures are family- and cooperation-oriented. American culture on the other hand emphasizes the individual and competition. The two cultures pull in opposite directions. So I see myself now as someone who will always be on the borer between two cultures. That works to my benefit as a writer because not quite fitting in helps me be a better observer.” — Laurence Yep on his Chinese heritage (

“As a child, I read mostly science fiction and fantasy books like the Oz books. When I was a child, I grew up in a black neighborhood but went to school in Chinatown. So I moved back and forth between two ghettoes. I could never get into the Homer Price novels, because in those books, every kid had a bicycle, and every kid left their front door unlocked, and that was alien to me as a child. You had to lock your doors, and no one I knew had a bike. But in science fiction and fantasy, children leave the everyday world and go to a strange place where they have to learn a new language and new customs. Science fiction and fantasy were about adapting, and that was something I did every day when I got on and off the bus.” — Laurence Yep on the books he read in his childhood (Scholastic)

See Laurence Yep’s bibliography on Wikipedia