Leah Johnson

Leah Trib


Young adult author Leah Johnson has quite the resume. Her debut novel, the critically acclaimed and bestselling You Should See Me in a Crown, was a Stonewall Honor Book, an inaugural Reese’s Books Club YA pick, and one of TIME’s 100 Best Young Adult Books Of All Time. Her work has appeared in magazines like Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar. And her highly-anticipated middle-grade debut, Ellie Engle Saves Herself—the first in a series—was released this spring with Disney-Hyperion. So what inspired the self-described eternal Midwesterner to become a writer? “Books for and about young people are what made me fall in love with literature in the first place, so when I set out to write books, I knew there was only one direction I was interested in pursuing,” Johnson says. She now hopes to inspire others with her stories. “My goal, always, is to give representations of Black girlhood that are rooted in joy and not trauma,” she says, “which in turn hopefully creates a blueprint for a possible future for my readers that they may not have thought possible.” This need has perhaps never been greater, given attacks on LGBTQ+ rights in state houses across the country, including in Johnson’s home state of Indiana. “This year alone, we have three times the amount of bills than in any year before moving through our House and Senate that would place limitations on everything from the kind of gender-affirming care queer and trans folks can receive to the types of stories young people have access to in their classrooms and libraries,” she says. Her vision for the future, “is to be at the forefront of creating lasting community programming that gives LGBTQIA+ people, specifically those of color, safe spaces to read and write and explore issues of identity—a project that I hope extends well beyond my own books.”

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