By Megan Driscoll
Study.com: What's your educational background, and how did you become a young adult lit author?
Brian Katcher: I have a B.S. in early child education and an M.A. in information science from the University of Missouri, Columbia.
How did I become a young adult author? I was living in Mexico, had just gone through a bad breakup, and was wondering what to do with my life. I decided to write a book just for something to do. Many years and many rejections later, Playing with Matches was published.
Why YA? Some people say I never stopped being a teenager.
Study.com: You also work as a librarian. How did you end up in your day job, and in what ways does it help (or hinder) your writing career?
BK: I love books, obviously. After being a classroom teacher for five years, I was switched to the library, which was a good fit. I have less take-home work than most teachers, and I get to keep abreast of trends in YA literature. Plus, I have summers off.
Study.com: What experiences have had the greatest influence on your development as a writer?
BK: Being a teenager. There's four or five books there. That, and being a reader. You can't write unless you read a lot.
Study.com: Who are your favorite writers? Which writers have had the most influence on your own work?
BK: H.P. Lovecraft, Ken Kesey, Joseph Heller and John Green. I especially like Mr. Green, I wish I was half the writer he was.
Study.com: What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career writing youth fiction?
BK: Go for it. Read as much as you can, and start writing early. I never wrote a thing until I was 25, and I regret the time I wasted not working on improving my writing.
Study.com: You recently won the 2011 Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award for 'Almost Perfect.' The award goes to exceptional youth literature 'relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered experience,' and your novel has received a lot of praise for the sensitivity and honesty with which it deals with a high school trans-girl's experiences. What inspired you to tackle this challenging subject?
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BK: Honestly, I tackled it because I thought it would be an interesting character study. It started as a short story, but eventually blossomed into Almost Perfect. It took a lot of research and certainly opened my eyes to a situation I'd never really considered before. I hope that Almost Perfect does the same for my readers.
Study.com: Have you engaged in any advocacy for GLBTQ youth, or are there any GLBTQ youth organizations that you support?
BK: I'm very impressed with the Center Project in Columbia, Missouri.
Study.com: 'Almost Perfect' is your second young adult novel. Do you have any book or other projects currently in the works?
BK: I've recently written a short story for the Awake compilation for Cheyenne Press. The proceeds will go to the Trevor Project.
My third novel, tentatively titled Playing Dice with the Universe, is slated for a 2012 release. It's about Katrina, an aspiring artist with emotionally abusive parents. She meets a boy who claims that the Internet does not report reality, it controls reality, since people believe whatever they read online. He demonstrates this by planting Internet rumors and false news stories which end up changing public policies. Too late, Katrina realizes he is out for revenge against people who have wronged him, and will stop at nothing to destroy them.
Study.com: Finally, I'd like to give you the opportunity to share anything you'd like about your work as a young adult author and your prize-winning novel.
BK: I never expected writing to be this rewarding. I owe it all to my readers. Thanks for everything.