Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Jason June opens up about ‘Porcupine Cupid’ children’s book (Includes interview)

On his new book Porcupine Cupid, he said, “It is a Valentine’s Day picture book that’s all about that pesky thing called love. Porcupine fancies himself Cupid so decides the best way to play matchmaker is to poke his neighbors with his quills to bring them in the direction of their perfect partner (much like Cupid with his arrows).”

“This, obviously, frustrates his forest-mates, but the character of Porcupine serves as a metaphor for love (or all emotions, really) and how it pops up when we least expect it and often have no control over when the feeling arises,” he added.

“Embracing our emotions and the unexpected sometimes has the best results,” he said. “What I love most about this book is that—even with animal characters—we were able to make this book queer-inclusive and a Valentine’s Day story for all, due in large part to the illustrations by the fabulous illustrator, Lori Richmond,” he added.

He will be releasing five new books this year. “I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for these books to be coming out. My first picture book (Whobert Whover, Owl Detective, illustrated by Jess Pauwels) released in 2017, and Porcupine Cupid (my second book) wasn’t released until more than three years later,” he said.

“So, I’ve had years without anything else coming out, but just kept at it and trying to get to the keyboard even when manuscripts weren’t landing with publishers. That’s my biggest advice to any writer: just keep writing, keep trying to improve with each project, even when others are telling you no. Eventually, you’ll get that yes,” he exclaimed.

When asked which book is his personal favorite, he responded, “Oh wow, this feels like I’m being asked to pick my favorite child, and honestly, I love them all for different reasons. For Porcupine Cupid, I love this story because not only is it about Valentine’s Day (which I’m totally obsessed with), but it includes queer characters and couples and shows that love is for everyone.”

“For Mermicorn Island, we get to play around in a magical under-the-sea world and I’ve literally spent my entire life dreaming about what it would be like to be a mermaid,” he added.

“In Jay’s Gay Agenda, my young adult rom-com coming in June, I explore love and lust and how beautiful and natural it is to make mistakes when you start entering romantic relationships for the first time in your life, but it’s about how you make up for those mistakes that matter and shows who you really are. And, as the title suggests, this book focuses on a gay teen, and I want queer teens to know they are just as worthy of a rom-com and being the star of it as anybody else,” he elaborated.

On his daily motivations as a children’s author, he said, “For me, it’s two things: the world (especially this past year) can seem like such a scary place, whether you’re a little kid and a brand new reader, or a teen who’d be reading young adult. I want to write to remind readers that no matter how intense life can get, there is still so much magic in the world.”

“Secondly, I want to create books that help readers see themselves and their families by including queer characters and themes in my work (Porcupine Cupid, for example, has queer and straight couples pair off) so they know that this magic in the world is for them too,” he said.

The message of queer inclusivity very important to him in his works. “Being queer-inclusive is so important to me because for so long queer characters have been kept out of the mainstream. When I was a kid, the options on bookshelves for me to see myself in a novel were few and far between. It made it that much harder to come out, that much harder to find examples that I could point to and say ‘This is me,’ and I’m so honored to be a part of this generation of queer authors who are making sure that the options out there for LGBTQIA+ readers and families are abundant,” he said.

On being an author in the digital age, he said, “It is so freaking cool. What I love the most, especially for YA audiences, is that readers are on the Internet so you see firsthand when they put up tweets and posts about being excited to read your book. People making roundups of books they can’t wait to read, posting pictures with the cover images, all of it just makes my heart burst in the best way.”

For young and aspiring authors, he encouraged them to “keep at it.” “You will hear a lot of ‘no’ as you go on this journey, but with every time you revise your work or every time you start a new story, you’ll just get better and better as a writer. So many times, your stories will be amazing, but for whatever reason, agents or editors aren’t ready to take a chance on your work yet. But don’t stop. Eventually, your talent will get you to the right place at the right time and your book will be published,” he said.

Jason June defined the word success as follows: “Success, to me, means that my books connect with a reader: that a world I created helped them have some escape, or laugh, or see a bit of themselves that they’d not been able to articulate before.”

“Something that tugged at their heart and resonated with them, made them feel seen and acknowledged. That’s why I create these stories, so that a reader and I can form a moment of connection, even if we’re not reading together. And that’s the best part about books, isn’t it? That people can never meet but have this shared experience,” he explained.

His book Porcupine Cupid is available on Amazon.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 18,000 original articles over the past 16 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a six-time consecutive "Best of Long Island" winner, and in the past three years, he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

You may also like:

Tech & Science

The CDC revealed Friday it is now tracking a new COVID-19 variant of concern around the U.S. known as XBB.


We saw North Korean nation-state threat actors exploiting Log4shell to hack energy providers and conduct espionage campaigns.

Tech & Science

AI can replace you guys, too. All it needs is a script, you know.

Tech & Science

Avian flu wiped out 50.54 million birds in the United States this year, making it the country’s deadliest outbreak in history.