Q+A with James Howe, Addie on the Inside and The Misfits

We Are the Youth Book Club: An Interview with James Howe, author of Addie on the Inside and The Misfits.

James Howe has written more than 80 young adult novels. But it was The Misfits (2001) and sequels Totally Joe (2005) and Addie on the Inside (2011) that established Howe as an advocate for LGBT youth and other young outsiders. The Misfits characters, an eclectic group of outsiders, celebrated “No Name-Calling Day” at their middle school, which served as inspiration for No Name-Calling Week, an annual event sponsored by The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to open up a dialogue about taunting and bullying. Howe, 65, is currently working on his fourth book in the series, Also Known As Elvis, which is expected to be released in 2013 or 2014.

In honor of No Name-Calling Week, taking place from January 23-27, Howe talked to We Are the Youth about coming out at age 51, writing about middle schoolers, and recent changes in how gay youth are treated in literature.

How did No Name-Calling Week come about?
After I came out, I wanted to get involved with the gay community, and GLSEN looked like a natural fit for me. I began doing some workshops for them, and speaking at their conferences. Then when The Misfits was published, GLSEN picked up on the book and wanted to use it as a vehicle for No Name-Calling Week.

No Name-Calling Week started in 2004. The second year No Name-Calling Week came under attack on a national level, because the book had a gay character, and GLSEN was a sponsor. There was a story on CNN about it, where I was referred to  as “openly gay author James Howe” which, when you’ve spent most of your life in the closet, is a pretty cool thing. (more…)

Q&A with Nick Burd, The Vast Fields of Ordinary

We Are the Youth Book Club: An Interview with Nick Burd, author of The Vast Fields of Ordinary.

For We Are the Youth’s first book club, Brooklyn-based author Nick Burd, 31, talks to us about his award-winning debut novel The Vast Fields of Ordinary, a coming of age young adult book about Dade Hamilton, a gay teenager in Iowa exploring friendship, relationships, and family drama during his “last real summer” before going to college.

The Vast Fields of Ordinary is in the early stages of being turned into a movie to be directed by Bruce Cohen, the producer of American Beauty and Milk. Nick talks to us about sexuality, gay literature, and the to-be-named quasi-sequel.

Did you have any books about young gay people to read when you were growing up?
I really didn’t. I grew up in a religious environment. The things in the library weren’t gay or lesbian oriented. My sexuality was forming in my mind in sixth, seventh, eighth grade, and  I couldn’t find any young adults geared towards gay kids. When I found adult themed gay books that was kind of a big deal.


Introducing a New Blog Feature!

We Are the Youth is starting a book club! To celebrate the inaugural book “The Vast Fields of Ordinary,” we’ll be interviewing author Nick Burd, and giving away three copies of the Stonewall Book Award winner. Enter the raffle to win a free copy of “The Vast Fields of Ordinary” by tweeting at @wertheyouth with the hash tag #ilovefreebooks or by liking us on Facebook and leaving a comment on our wall by Friday, November 25. We’ll announce the winner the following Monday.