Podcast: On Being Among the Banned with Author J. J. Austrian

Pride month is more than celebratory in a time when book bans are on the rise in the United States, and 26% of the titles banned “have LGBTQ+ characters or themes,” according to PEN America. With politicians like Ron DeSantis determined to make “anti-wokeness” part of the Republican brand, this neologism for hate-speech has taken the form of book and media censorship in school and public libraries around the country. One of these banned books, entitled Worm Loves Worm, was written by a close friend named J. J. Austrian, who joins me for this episode of the podcast. Illustrated by Mike Curato and published by Harper Collins in 2016, Worm Loves Worm is a story for young children about two earthworms getting married and trying to figure out which is the bride and which is the groom while navigating the not-so-helpful advice and opinions of the other bugs and critters in attendance.

Show Contents

  • 01:22 – How does it feel to be among the banned?
  • 03:42 –  The creation of Worm Loves Worm.
  • 08:12 – What children get from Worm Loves Worm.
  • 09:36 – It’s not about sex. Indoctrination to what?
  • 12:23 – Attacks on the transgender community.
  • 15:03 – Did you expect the backlash when the book first came out?
  • 18:34 -Is it hard not to look at the negative comments?
  • 20:19 – The “shotgun wedding.”
  • 21:50 – Increase in attacks since it was first published.
  • 24:10 – More worried about middle grade and young adult readers.
  • 28:10 – Ever criticized for writing about a subject that’s not your subject? (outside your lane)
  • 34:45 – Do you have Woke Mind Virus?
  • 37:15 – A conversation about satire.
  • 44:33 – How banning can affect the author.
  • 47:44 – The victim’s narrative.
  • 50:15 – Hope for the future?
  • 52:44 – The Printing Press and the Internet
  • 57:05 – Love is love.

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