March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

SLJ’s SummerTeen Speaker: Julie Kagawa

 Julie Kagawa had two childhood passions: reading and animals. At the age of nine, Kagawa and her family moved from Sacramento, CA, to Hawaii, where she immersed herself in books—and teachers would often find her hiding novels behind her math textbooks during class.

Kagawa’s passion for writing continued into adulthood, but to pay the rent, she worked in several bookstores. When she was caught on the job reading more than shelving books, Kagawa turned to her other passion—training animals—and worked as a professional dog trainer for several years. Once her first book sold, Kagawa started to write full-time.

A New York Times and internationally bestselling author of “The Iron Fey” series, Kagawa is a is a guest speaker at SLJ‘s August 9 online event, SummerTeen: A Celebration of Young Adult Books. If you’ve signed up for SummerTeen, make sure to gather your teens to hear Kagawa speak on the “Aftermath Lit” panel from 3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Registration is still open.

How did you end up writing fantasy novels?

JK: I originally wrote a novel I thought was an adult fantasy, but most of my characters were young, so my agent decided it was actually YA. Looking back, almost all my characters in my previous stories have been teens, so I’ve been writing YA for a while now, I just didn’t know it.

What do you like best about writing for a YA audience?

JK: I just really love the genre. I love writing for and about teenagers; they’re incredibly dynamic, both in story and real life They love and hate with such a passion. I also love that I can find a lot of my readers online in social media, which allows me to talk with fans and others who love YA. 

What’s one of the most moving things you’ve heard about your work?

JK: It’s always the “your book inspired me to write” compliment that gets me every time. I myself began writing because certain books and authors inspired me, and to know that my books can do the same is the best thing someone can tell me.

How valuable are librarians at getting the word out about your work?

JK: Invaluable. I have nothing but awe and respect for librarians; they are so essential in getting people to read and spreading the word about great books. If they like a book, they will tell people about it, and I know of many people who will read a book or a series just based on their recommendation. They are the unsung heroes of the literary world. 

Do you ever worry about being censored?

JK: To me, censoring is far more dangerous than the content of any book, and I believe it is a parent’s responsibility to decide what books their child is ready for, not a group’s decision to ban a book from everyone. To that end, I try to write what feels real—how real teens speak and act and think. I write what the story calls for, and if that somehow gets my book censored or challenged, so be it. It will still find its way into the hands of my audience, regardless of censorship.

What are you working on now?

JK: At the moment, I am working on the sequel to The Immortal Rules, the second book in the Blood of Eden series, titled The Eternity Cure, and it will be out sometime in early 2013.

Other SLJ SummerTeen Interviews:

Gareth Hinds

Earl Sewell

A.S. King

Johan Harstad

Barry Lyga

Sean Michael Wilson

Peter Hautman

Karen Healey

Cecil Castellucci


Empowering Teens: Fostering the Next Generation of Advocates
Teens want to make a difference and become advocates for the things they care about. Librarians working with young people are in a unique position to help them make an impact on their communities and schools. Ignite your thinking and fuel these efforts at your library through this Library Journal online course—April 24 & May 8.