From Hollywood to Instagram, the myth of the ‘perfect body’ endures. But what role can fiction play in portraying those deemed outside the norm, be they characters of colour, fat, queer, living with disability or chronic illness. Jordi Kerr speaks with three authors who rarely saw their own bodies depicted in the novels of their youth – Dhonielle Clayton, Jax Jacki Brown and Jenna Guillaume – to discuss how they’ve created inclusive stories for young adults today and the groundbreaking #OwnVoices movement.
Supported by the City of Parramatta.
Jenna Guillaume (Australian)
Jenna Guillaume is the author of the young adult rom-com What I Like About Me. She is a former editor-at-large for BuzzFeed Australia, where she wrote about very important things like pop culture, identity, feminism, social media, and Chris Hemsworth's biceps. Previously she worked in the features department at Girlfriend magazine. Jenna lives in Sydney with her husband and one very fluffy dog.
Dhonielle Clayton (International)
Dhonielle is an author, a former elementary and middle school librarian and secondary school teacher, COO of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books, and co-founder of Cake Literary, a creative kitchen whipping up decadent - and decidedly diverse - literary confections for middle grade, young adult, and women's fiction readers. Her most recent book, The Everlasting Rose, the sequel to the acclaimed The Belles, debuted on the New York Times bestseller in March 2019. Her short stories have been published in anthologies Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens, Meet Cute and The Radical Element.
Jax Jacki Brown (Australian)
Jax Jacki Brown is a disability and LGBTIQ rights activist, writer and educator. She has written for Junkee, Daily Life, The Feminist Observer, Writers Victoria, ABC's Ramp Up, Hot Chicks with Big Brains, and Archer Magazine: The Australian Journal for Sexual Diversity. Jax is published in the following anthologies: Queer Disability Anthology, Doing It, Queer Stories and 2019 releases Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories and Growing up Queer in Australia
Jordi Kerr (Australian)
Jordi Kerr is a freelance writer, a youth literature advocate, a gender rebel, and a #spoonie. Their short story ‘Sheer Fortune' is featured in the Meet Me at the Intersection anthology. Currently a support worker for LGBTIQA+ young people, Jordi previously worked at the Centre for Youth Literature, helping young adults engage with books, stories, and writing.