The Dramatic Life Of The American Teenager : Code Switch Kacen Callender started out as a kid in St. Thomas writing fan fiction. Today, they are the author of multiple middle grade and young adult novels full of empathy, learning, and a healthy dose of high school drama.

The Dramatic Life Of The American Teenager

The Dramatic Life Of The American Teenager

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Kacen Callender, author of middle and young adult novels, including Felix Ever After and Hurricane Child. Ashley Cain hide caption

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Ashley Cain

Kacen Callender, author of middle and young adult novels, including Felix Ever After and Hurricane Child.

Ashley Cain

Kacen Callender started out as a kid in St. Thomas writing fan fiction. Today, they are the author of multiple middle grade and young adult novels full of empathy, learning, and a healthy dose of high school drama.

Their books almost always center queer, trans, Black protagonists learning to navigate the world — and making all kinds of mistakes as they do so. Callender wants their characters to have space to learn and grow, but also to have fun and just be. That's a space, Callender says, that is rarely afforded to kids who aren't white.

The cover of one of Kacen Callender's middle grade novels, Hurricane Child. Courtesy of Scholastic hide caption

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Courtesy of Scholastic

So on this bonus episode of the podcast — produced in partnership with the Library of Congress Book Festival, we talked to Kacen Callender about the pressure to make characters from marginalized backgrounds "good," and the fun you can have when you ignore some of that pressure.