Meet the faculty of the 2021 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We’ve asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.
Jason June, Author
Jason June (it’s a two-name first name, like Mary-Kate without the hyphen or the Olsen twin) is a genderqueer writer mermaid who loves to create picture books that mix the flamboyantly whacky with the slightly dark, and young adult contemporary rom-coms full of love and lust and hijinks. When not writing, JJ zips about Austin, Texas. He loves dinosaurs, unicorns, Pomeranians, and anything magical that takes you to a different world or time. JJ is a tried and true Laura Dern stan, and he is actively looking for an Andalite friend.
His picture books include WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE, illustrated by Jess Pauwels, and PORCUPINE CUPID, a queer-inclusive Valentine’s Day story, illustrated by Lori Richmond, both from Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster. For under-the-sea whimsical adventures, check out the MERMICORN ISLAND chapter book series from Scholastic! And get ready for JAY’S GAY AGENDA, Jason June’s debut YA, queer rom-com, coming June 1, 2021 from HarperTeen!
Author Jason June
What attracted you to children’s books?
I’ve always liked thinking the world is full of unicorns and rainbows, and children’s lit has always been the most fun place to actually write about unicorns and rainbows! I’m a firm believer that there is magic in the world, and kids and teens tend to be readers who believe this too, and will go along with me as I explore the various ways that magic (both literal and figurative) can be found.
What’s the best part of your job?
Connecting with readers! Like, NOTHING feels as good as getting a note from a reader saying they felt seen, or they laughed, or they found truly joyous escape in one of my books.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Letting myself just sit and be when there’s a plot hole/chapter/character/etc. that I can’t figure out. My mind instantly wants to jump to possible solutions, which is good to a point, but when I can’t land on something that feels right, I start to obsess about it. But, of course, this never does me any good, because the things that click are those that pop into my head seemingly at random when I’ve finally allowed my mind to just be quiet.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?
“It’s out of your hands.” As in, the way a reader reacts to your book once it’s out there is out of your control, and you need to let go of that desire for every single person to like everything you write. Humor, art, what tugs at our heart, is all subjective, and if you get too caught up in the people who aren’t connecting with your work, it’ll make you miss the beauty of the times when people do connect with it.
Come see Jason June at the 2021 Austin SCBWI conference, May 1-2, 2021.