The Reading Culture Welcomes Kacen Callender

author kacen callender
Masthead Waves

I didn’t plan it this way, but I am glad that we are releasing this week’s episode with Kacen Callender during the start of Banned Books Week. Kacen, a Black and Trans writer, literally wrote themself into the pages of their books. And, if you listened to my episode with Ellen Oh, you may remember that the books Kacen has written, specifically “Moonflower” in the case of Ellen’s child, have saved lives. To see that their books are being made inaccessible to young readers is devastating for Kacen, who themself faced many challenges growing up in St. Thomas, USVI.


Just as books provide readers with a space to learn, see themselves, reflect, and cope with their inner thoughts, writing has served as a means for Kacen Callender to process and heal from their own trauma. Throughout their writing journey, Kacen has traversed the various stages and ages of their life, opening wounds and finding ways to heal them through fiction. 


This transformative process began with their debut novel “Hurricane Child” in 2018, which not only earned Kacen critical acclaim, but also accolades such as the Stonewall Book Award and Lambda Literary Award. Since then, Kacen has authored other titles such as “Felix Ever After” and “King and the Dragonflies”, the latter of which won a National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2020. Now, Kacen is entering the next phase in their writing journey, delving into the enduring adult repercussions of childhood trauma.


In this episode, Kacen shares more about their personal journey of processing trauma through writing. They also discuss the ways fanfiction has played a pivotal role in inspiring their creative path and how the storyline in a Canadian teen drama that helped them come to terms with their own identity.


For their reading challenge, Trans Spec YA, Kacen wants readers to imagine freedom for the trans community through works of speculative fiction. 


This episode’s Beanstack Featured Librarian is Meredith Derrick, library coordinator for Klein Independent School District. She shares a funny story about a student’s attempt at a thoughtful teacher appreciation surprise.


Listen to the full episode, “Inner Section: Kacen Callender on Trauma, Healing, and Magic” on Apple, Google, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Like what you hear? Please leave a 5-star review, subscribe, and share with someone who will enjoy it!


Follow the podcast on Instagram @thereadingculturepod to see reels of our guests and subscribe to our newsletter to learn about our exciting upcoming giveaways! #readingculturefam (for life!)


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