If you are around next Thursday make sure you head down to the Free Word Centre to hear and take part in a brilliant discussion focusing on the depiction of LGBT characters within British YA fiction. Hosted by Booktrust, here’s what you can expect:

Out Of the Closet Event

This panel discussion will explore the portrayal of gay and lesbian characters and relationships in books for teens and young adults. While the US has recently seen something of an explosion in LGBT books for teens, there are still very few LGBT characters in books for this age group written and published in the UK. And although some recent well-known UK books (Hayley Long’s Costa-shortlisted What’s Up with Jody Barton?, Malorie Blackman’s Boys Don’t Cry), have featured gay characters, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters are even less frequently represented (bar in Hollow Pike). Why is this, and does it matter?

Refreshments available for sale. Tickets are free, but spaces are limited. Please book a place to avoid disappointment.

James Dawson, author of dark teen thriller Hollow Pike (Orion), grew up in West Yorkshire, writing imaginary episodes of Doctor Who. He later turned his talent to journalism, interviewing luminaries such as Steps and Atomic Kitten before writing a weekly serial in a Brighton newspaper. Until recently, James worked as a teacher, specialising in PSHCE and behaviour. He is most proud of his work surrounding bullying and family diversity. He now writes full time in London.

Hayley Long was born in Ipswich and grew up by the seaside in Felixstowe. After university, she had loads of different jobs whilst travelling but then came back to the UK and worked in schools in London and Cardiff. Hayley still teaches A-Level English to sixth-formers in a college near Norwich. Her first novel for teenagers was Lottie Biggs is Not Mad (Macmillan), awarded The White Raven Award for exceptional and innovative books for children by the International Youth Library in Munich. She now has two more books in the Lottie Biggs series and another novel called What’s Up With Jody Barton? (Macmillan). She lives in Norwich with a very lovely husband and a very lovely house rabbit. 

Emily Thomas began her publishing career at Andre Deutsch Children’s Books as a secretary to the formidable Editorial Director, Pam Royds. Pam’s authors formed a veritable Hollywood Walk of Fame of Publishing and included childhood favourites, such as Joan Aiken, Leon Garfield and Philippa Pearce. So was born her passion for editing children’s books and working with authors! Emily moved about a bit: editorial assistant at Scholastic, working with David Fickling, followed by a stint of non-fiction editing at Kingfisher books, and then a move to the glossy supermodel of publishing houses, Hodder Headline (later to be become Hachette Livre UK) as junior editor, editor, senior editor, senior commissiong editor, publisher of teen fiction at Hodder Children’s Books…and now, as Publisher at Hot Key Books, she has her dream job.

Catherine Hennigan is a final year student at the University of York. Born in London, she lived in Singapore for 4 years and attended grammar school in Buckinghamshire. Throughout her time at University, she has been highly involved in the LGBT movement, having held various senior LGBT-related positions on University committees. In September last year, she was selected to participate in the highly prestigious Stonewall Young Talent Programme, a residential course for young LGBT people aged 18-25 who have demonstrated a capacity for leadership. After completing her dissertation on ‘LGBT diversity in business’ and graduating this summer, Catherine will be pursuing a career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. 

Chair: Alexandra Strick is a consultant in books and disability issues, with an interest in all aspects of diversity and equality in children’s books. She is also a freelance photographer and co-founder/manager of Outside In, the UK organisation dedicated to promoting and exploring books from around the world. She has worked for a number of charities including St John’s Ambulance, Booktrust and Whizz-Kidz www.alexandrastrick.co.uk  

Date: 21st February 2013

Time: 6.30pm

Place: Freeword Lecture Theatre

The Free Word Centre,

60 Farringdon Road,






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