Q&A with acclaimed author Shannon Hitchcock!

Today on OOM we're chatting with Shannon Hitchcock, author of One True Way (ages 8–12). Check out the conversation below!

What was the inspiration for One True Way?

My best friend is the inspiration behind One True Way. When we were in our early twenties, she came out to me. Once the shock receded, I had big questions because I’d been taught homosexuality is a sin. In One True Way, I explore those questions. When I was crafting the narrative, my minister, Vicki Walker served as a sounding board and helped with the theology.   

Your book addresses some of the social and political events surrounding LGBT rights in the 1970s. Why did you choose to include these aspects in the story? 

I think including history helps us understand the struggles LGBT kids are still facing today. Kathi Appelt referenced that history when blurbing One True Way, and Maeve Norton incorporated it in the back cover design.

There are so few books that feature the early blushes of attraction between middle school girls. Why did you choose to set Allie and Sam’s story in a middle school setting?

Because middle school is where lots of kids first encounter kids whose sexuality may be different than theirs. I hope One True Way will contribute to a more inclusive school environment.

How can teachers and parents use One True Way as a learning tool for introducing the concepts of tolerance, inclusion, acceptance, and kindness?

There are so many possibilities. One True Way could be part of a unit on bullying. According to statistics compiled by the Human Rights Campaign, LGBT youth are twice as likely as their peers to say they have been physically assaulted. One True Way could also be included when studying Civil Rights by charting the history and struggle for LGBT rights. Another possibility is in a language arts class by having students interview a peer and write a profile like the ones Allie does for her school newspaper in One True Way.

What do you hope young readers will take away after they’ve enjoyed One True Way?

That a crush is a crush. Whether it’s between two boys, two girls, or a girl and a boy, the feelings are the same. The difference is in how the adults around them react to it.