Tell us about your most recent book and how you came to write/illustrate it.
THE BRIGHTSIDERS follows a teen drummer in a famous rock band as she deals with being labelled a tabloid train wreck, coming out as bisexual, family struggles and new feelings for her best friend and lead singer, Alfie. All my books are about fame and fandom in some way, and while my last book (QUEENS OF GEEK) focused more on the fan’s point of view, THE BRIGHTSIDERS is from the perspective of a girl being thrust into the spotlight and dealing with the fallout of that.
Do you think of yourself as a diverse author/illustrator?
Yes, as I’m queer, nonbinary, and autistic. Those parts of my identity definitely influence the stories I write and the way I see the world in my daily life.
Who is your favorite character of all time in children’s or young adult literature?
Oh, wow. This is a tough question! I have a few, but the one that I really connected with as a teen was Adrian Mole of the Adrian Mole series, so he’ll always have a special place in my heart.
Hypothetically speaking, let’s say you are forced to sell all of the books you own except for one. Which do you keep?
My old, ragged copy of Girl, Interrupted. As a teen with undiagnosed autism, anxiety and depression, that book was the first to ever make me feel like I wasn’t alone.
What does diversity mean to you as you think about your own books?
To me, it means holding a mirror up so that teens don’t have to grow up thinking they don’t belong or aren’t important. It means being inclusive and showing the world as it is – intersectional.
What is your thought process in including or excluding characters of diverse backgrounds?
I really just want to write stories that young people can pick up and relate to in some way. I want my books to be a safe space for them, that makes them feel seen, and shows them that they are not alone.
Jen Wilde is a writer, geek and fangirl with a penchant for coffee, books and pugs. She writes YA stories about zombies (AS THEY RISE), witches (ECHO OF THE WITCH), fangirls (QUEENS OF GEEK), and rockstars (THE BRIGHTSIDERS). Her debut series reached over three million reads online and became an Amazon bestseller. Born and raised in Australia, she splits her time between Melbourne and New York. When she’s not writing, Jen loves binge-watching her favorite shows on Netflix, eating pizza, traveling to far away places and going to conventions in Marty McFly cosplay.