This month, we talk to author Kheryn Callender about their novel, Hurricane Child. They talk to us about the importance of intersectional representation.
Want to catch up? Check out last month’s Ink Splat here.
This month, Kheryn Callender has challenged us to get to know our setting.
“Settings can be a lot like characters. A place can have its own personality, especially when seen through the eyes of your main character. The challenge: get to know your setting more by writing a scene with your setting as a person!“
Aim for between 350 and 1000 words. Submit your response HERE. You might be published on our website!
An Interview with Kheryn Callender
When and how did you realize you wanted to be an author?
I’ve always loved to write and tell stories. I would make up stories with my mom when I was really young, and loved my creative writing classes in junior high and high school. After writing fanfiction for a bit, I decided to try my hand at writing original stories. Years later, here I am!
In Hurricane Child, twelve-year-old Caroline Murphy searches for her mother in the US Virgin Islands. What was your inspiration for Caroline’s story?
Caroline’s story was inspired by my own! My mother has never gone missing, but when I was growing up on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, I often felt very alone. I wanted Caroline to be alone in her story as well as she discovered herself and her own inner strength, and knew that searching for her mom would be an important part of her journey.
Hurricane Child is your first published book. What didn’t you expect about being a published author?
I didn’t expect so much love and acceptance for Caroline’s story. It’s really heartening, and I hope I can continue to write stories that readers will connect with and love.
Can you talk a bit about the importance of intersectional representation, especially in middle-grade literature?
It’s always important for people to be able to see themselves reflected and visible in media. If you don’t see yourself, and only see a specific sort of person that doesn’t share your identities, it becomes easy to begin to think that you don’t matter. But you do matter—everyone matters. I think it’s important to share all sorts of identities, and since I never saw black and queer characters in books or film, it’s my mission to add as many characters as I can so that people like me can see ourselves reflected as well.
If you could tell your younger writing self something, what would it be?
I would tell myself to keep going! I really second-guessed myself and my stories a lot when I was just starting out, and would give up on a lot of novels before trying to get to the end. Luckily, I kept a lot of those novels in old files, so I’m able to go back and finish the ones that I like now—but I wish I’d kept going when I was younger.
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Kheryn Callender was born and raised in St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands. Kheryn was previously an Associate Editor of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, where they acquired and edited novels including Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles, the forthcoming Internment by Samira Ahmed, and the Stonewall Honor award-winning novel Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake.