Black History Month Author Visit: Kern Carter

Celebrated Toronto author Kern Carter, author of Boys and Girls Screaming

Celebrated Toronto author Kern Carter will be visiting Vaughan Public Libraries on Thursday, February 22, 7:00 pm on Zoom. Please register on Eventbrite and join us for an evening of great conversations on writing, publishing, parenting, Black heritage, and more!

I’m really excited about this event because Kern is a “long-lost” friend. Last spring when I was waiting for my massage therapist at her clinic, I saw a familiar face on the TV screen being interviewed by the CTV host, and I recognized that was Kern! He was chatting with the host about his latest novel Boys and Girls Screaming. The first time I met Kern was back in 2014 when he was promoting his first book Thoughts of a Fractured Soul. He was still an independent author back then. He was very tall and handsome (only much later I found out he was also a basketball star, lol), but with that strong presence, he was extremely polite and gentle, just like his words in that thin, little novella … Since then, I haven’t heard from Kern for years, and I can’t believe when I see him again, he’s on TV!

So, when I went back to work that day, I looked him up like a little superfan. I read and read, trying to find out what he has gone through all these years, his struggles, tears, laughs, and successes … Apparently, he has been working hard in the past ten years and has created a long list of accomplishments that he can show off on his website: “From selling thousands of books independently, building a community of emerging writers, establishing a freelance career, landing book deals with the biggest publishers in the world, to now running my own business … Add to the mix that I was a teen father and high school dropout who ultimately graduated from university and built a successful writing career …” Indeed, after all the hard work, his dream of making a good living by just writing has now come true!

Book cover of Boys and Girls Screaming by Kern Carter

Right away, I wrote Kern an email. He replied instantly and accepted my invite. Now, here we are, Kern will be visiting us and sharing his inspiring journey – how did he make that happen? Every aspiring author would know making a breakthrough in the publishing field is extremely challenging.

That night, I also started reading Boys and Girls Screaming. It’s such an interesting and unique book! Although the book is classified as a teen novel since all the main characters are teenagers, I, an adult, thoroughly enjoyed it from the beginning to the end. The book is about a group of teenagers getting together to share their traumatic past and provide emotional support to each other, but while they are doing that, they uncover some explosive family secrets. Before all the twists and turns, Kern alternated the storytelling between Candace and Jericho, cleverly allowing the characters’ personalities to shine. Kern precisely captured how today’s teenagers’ talk and behave and let them come alive on the pages. I don’t want to give out too much, but I must say, the first few pages about how little Candace interacted with her “fake mom” was unforgetting – painful but captivating; when Julia returned to Candace’s life later on, the story development was authentic and fresh, as if Kern knew these characters in real life. And when the story progressed, Ever and Jericho’s family story offered lots of good drama, keeping me late in bed turning pages, lol.

I should point out, the story is not just entertaining, but also powerful and thought-provoking. It invites conversations on themes of sisterhood, community, unpacking trauma, and asks the question: What makes a family? “I wanted to get people to think about what motherhood is, what parenting is and what love is, when it comes to mother-daughter or mother-child relationships,” Kern told CBC Books in 2022. So what are Kern’s opinions on these topics? What are the specific perspectives that are shaped by his Black heritage? Racial issues were explored in this book, but subtly. Why did Kern choose this approach?

I’m very happy that Kern has successfully found his place in this highly competitive field. I have so many questions for him. If you are as curious as I am, please register on Eventbrite today and join us on February 22, 7:00 pm!

If you want to find out more about the Black heritage and history in Canada, please take a look at my colleagues’ reading lists below and check out one (or all) of the books!

About Heather

Heather is the Librarian II, Literacy and Readers' Advisory, with the Vaughan Public Libraries. Her job is to connect leisure readers and aspiring writers with the endless space of imagination and creation through words in all forms.  |  Meet the team