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…)