Skip to main content

I always tried to be the teacher who anyone could talk to. A lot of kids are just looking for reassurance that they’ll be cared for no matter who they are, and I tried my best to be really loud about that.

Creating a voice for queer youth with Jes McCutchen!

Image of Jes McCutchen at a book launch of Chronicles of my Alien Invasion.

I first came across Jes when she reached out to be a part of The Queer Corner segment over on my youtube channel. I was instantly taken with her passion for bringing queer stories to life and watching how they affect the youth that she teaches day to day. Her stories of creating a safe and loving space for kids and young adults across the rainbow have been inspiring, not to mention her own incredibly inclusive work. It is an honor to be joined by her today. Welcome to BWGB Jes!

Q. First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to chat with me today! Can you give us an introduction to you, your work and where people can find you?

A. Hi! I’m Jes McCutchen and I write queer young adult sci fi, fantasy, and horror where all the endings are happy, pets would never be in true peril, and the worlds are queer normative. You can find out more about me on my website jesmccutchenwrites.com or on Instagram @jesmwrites

Q. Your works explore the themes of identity and acceptance amongst young adults, what has been the most rewarding aspect of putting these works out into the world.

Chronicles of my Alien Invasion by Jes McCutchen.

A. Absolutely it’s been the chances I’ve gotten to talk to young adults about my work. I spoke at a conference not too long ago, and when I mentioned sweet baby gays and that my stories were full of queer characters I could see kids scattered throughout the auditorium perk up. Then later they sought me out for the panels I was on. It was really special. I also loved talking to parents who are grateful to have stories that show what supportive parents can look like. Those good parents exist. I want rep for them too.

Q. How has your role as a teacher helped to inspire your stories?

A. I always tried to be the teacher who anyone could talk to. A lot of kids are just looking for reassurance that they’ll be cared for no matter who they are, and I tried my best to be really loud about that. Plus, I usually did creative writing club, and getting to see young folks create and get excited about experimenting with writing, really shows just how much teenagers are thinking about and going through. Some young adult books either dismiss their agency, or have them acting like full grown adults. Kids need space to make mistakes, they’re whole people.

Q. Who has been your favourite queer character to write thus far and why?

A. Don’t make me pick! I think I’m probably at like a 95% queer character count in my work so far, but I think I’ll say Frankie from my upcoming book, “Jean Harlow and the Legend of Stonefish Creek”, I won’t give anything away, but she was just a tricky character to write and I’m excited to unleash her on the world.A Mean Piece of Water by Jes McCutchen

Q. How do you promote your works and encourage open conversations with your target audience?

A. Any time I can work with kids directly, I”m happy. I’ve gotten to speak at teen book conventions, and at the public library here, and I had an absolute blast doing a Q&A for the Equality Crew in Arkansas. The youths themselves got to ask me questions and it was so much fun. At the Teen Book Con, we had chances to meet in small groups where the kids asked us questions and I loved those talks.

Q. Each time we talk I can feel your passion for promoting those who are underrepresented and marginalized in today’s society. Where are your favorite places to discover new authors?

A. My default is to read books by BIPOC authors. It didn’t happen overnight. I’ve been working on that for a few years now. So if you’d asked me where I found new authors like three years ago, new to me authors would be like NK Jemisin and Rebecca Roanhorse and PDjeli Clark. Now those are auto buy authors. I was just only reading top sellers, ya know? I’m in a book club called B2Weird and I read books by authors I never would have heard of through that. Also Andy from ForeverInAStory has a Be Intentional reading challenge that’s on Storygraph. Now, I will never read something from all the prompts, xe has like 144 prompts lol. But I go to that list to discover voices I would otherwise totally miss.

Jean Hean Harlow and the Legend of Stonefish Creek.

Q. Have there been any queer characters or stories that have really stood out to you over the past year?

A. Every time I get asked this question my brain decides I’ve never read a book Haha. So pulling up Storygraph, She is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran was incredible. It’s a haunted house Vietnamese multi generational trauma story, and the MC is queer. And for something more light hearted that I just devoured, The Spells We Cast by Jason June. Ya’ll gay boys and magical lassoos. For real. So much fun.

Q. If you had one piece of advice to your younger self when it comes to acceptance and self-love, what would it be?

A. Just to trust your feelings. I think I did a pretty good job of that, but younger selves can pretty much universally benefit from taking a minute and really thinking about what they’re feeling. Sitting in your own thoughts can be daunting. But journaling and writing things out can help you sort through whatever it is that’s on your mind. Trust your feelings and gut.

Make sure to check out Jes’s work! These books are wonderfully inclusive and charming and I have absolutely adored my time with them.

Check out Jes McCutchen’s Works Today!

Check out Jes McCutchen’s Works Today!

Check out Jes McCutchen’s Works Today!

Check out Jes McCutchen’s Works Today!

Check out Jes McCutchen’s Works Today!

Check out Jes McCutchen’s Works Today!

Check out Jes McCutchen’s Works Today!

Check out Jes McCutchen’s Works Today!

The Fictional Escapist

Kris has been an avid reader for most of his life, forever escaping into various worlds, far beyond his imagination. Now at the ripe old age of 32, he spends his days in a sea of authors, review copies and unedited manuscripts; and he is having a blast!

Leave a Reply