Author Q&A with Jen Wilde

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.

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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.

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Industry Q&A with Trisha de Guzman, Associate Editor at Farrar, Straus, Giroux BFYR

Please tell us about the most recent diverse book you published.

I’m still at the very early stages of building my list, but I was fortunate enough to edit two books with diverse characters recently:

The Fantastic Body is a nonfiction, illustrated guide to the human body for kids. Because the book would be so heavily illustrated, we wanted the children depicted to be multifaceted and diverse. The book is nonfiction and prescriptive, so the text doesn’t actually address race in a direct way. It’s important to address serious issues of race, culture, and identity in diverse books, but it’s also important to show that children are children, no matter their background, and that there are more things that unite them than divide them. I firmly believe in publishing books featuring diverse characters without making race the main issue, so I’m proud of that book.  

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I was also the developmental editor for a middle grade series of novels called Shred Girls. The first book, Lindsay’s Joyride, is about young girls who befriend each other through their shared love of BMX. What I loved about the book was how multifaceted every main character was. Lindsay likes comic books, but she also, it turned out, loves riding bikes. And she likes many other things: her new friends. Her Mexican grandmother’s cooking. The cute boy who rides at the same park. Kombucha. Mariana Pajón, Colombian cyclist and two-time Olympic gold medalist and BMX World Champion. No one thing defined her, nor any other character. While Lindsay is Latina and proud, her heritage informs the novel but isn’t its sole focus.

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