We sat down with Kacen Callender, author of Felix Ever After, to talk about their book, their experience in publishing, and what books they’re reading.

Tell us in your words what this book is about.

Felix Ever After is about 17-year-old Felix Love who has never been in love (and he’s well-aware of the irony). He wants to be in love, but he’s afraid he’s “one marginalization too many” as a Black, queer, and trans teen. While the book is a contemporary romance, and is a lot about Felix’s gender identity and questioning, it’s ultimately a story of self-love and Felix’s discovery of happiness with himself.

The response has been overwhelming, how does that feel as a writer of such an important, resonating book?

Thank you! I’m so grateful for the love Felix has been getting, and so grateful, too, for the stories people are sharing in turn about their own gender identities and their journeys to self love. It feels really great! It’s also slightly terrifying as I sit down to work on my next books, and I wonder if any story I write will ever resonate as much as Felix Ever After has for readers. In a way, I’m learning to love the love that the book has been getting, but also separate that love from myself and my identity and ego as a writer, so that I can focus on writing more books featuring trans protagonists without facing a self-created barrier of fear that my next books won’t resonate as much, or won’t be as successful, which ultimately stops me from being a better writer.

What has been the best part for you of this journey to publication?

My number one goal and dream for Felix Ever After was that the book might help someone with their own questions about their gender identity, as another trans character had helped me (Adam from Degrassi!)–so the best part by far has been hearing people say that Felix helped them discover their own identity as trans, and specifically as a demiboy.

What is another important book you think others should read?

There are so many books that I always want to talk about! This time, I think I’ll recommend You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson. As Leah has described the book, it’s a story of revolutionary joy, and it’s so great to see queer girls of color get that happily ever after.

What is something you would tell your younger self?

YOU’RE TRANS! Haha, I really do wish I could tell myself this–sometimes I struggle with the feeling of so many years of not being my true self wasted, because I didn’t even really know what trans and nonbinary meant. Besides this, though, I would tell myself that happier days will come, and that I am worthy of respect and love.