Publishers' Preview: Debut Authors: Five Questions for Seamus Kirst

This interview originally appeared in the July/August 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Debut Authors, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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Papa, Daddy, & Riley are a family. But, Riley wonders, can a family really have two dads?

1. What would this book have meant to five-year-old you?

I grew up in the early 1990s. I do not remember reading any children’s books with LGBTQ characters, though I know some were out there, and I am grateful for the writers who paved the way. Not seeing LGBTQ characters in books became one more subtle, but powerful, factor in making me feel abnormal, my life impossibly out of the mainstream. Reading my book, and so many of the other wonderful books featuring LGBTQ characters, would have made me feel far less alone.

2. There is a swear word in the title of your adult memoir. Do you swear in front of children?

The title of my adult memoir is not appropriate for children, nor is what’s inside (it’s about my experiences with, and recovery from, drug and alcohol abuse). I do not swear in front of children. Like actors who perform in separate movies geared toward adults and children, or singers who write songs for different audiences, I think writers can occupy both spaces. I am proud of both of my books.

3. Do you want to be a dad?

I do! I’m only twenty-nine, and in no particular rush, but I hope to have children within the next ten years.

4. When do you think kids are old enough for a discussion about their genetic identity?

I believe this is a decision every parent has to make on their own, and I can only speak to my own experiences. My parents adopted my sister when she was a newborn, and she is only five-and-a-half months older than me. The adoption was open, and my parents were always open about her being adopted. Being told the full story about her genetic identity from the time we were toddlers worked well for us. It was treated as a matter of fact, because it was a matter of fact.

5. What did writing a picture book teach you about writing?

It taught me the power of a single word. When you only have a couple hundred words to tell a story, you realize how much each one matters.

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Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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