Pride Month Guest Post: M.K. England, author of THE DISASTERS

Who Gets to Save the Galaxy?

When you write about Earth’s future, you’re making a statement: Who will be in power two hundred years from now? Who gets to fly the ship, save the day, be the hero?

I grew up in the American South in the late 90s and early 2000s with my head permanently lodged inside a Star Wars book. Rockets launched from nearby Cape Canaveral and shook my windows as I dreamed of piloting my own X-Wing around the galaxy, fighting the evils of the Galactic Empire. The whole time, I struggled with uncomfortable feelings about gender. I shopped in the boys section of stores and enjoyed hobbies that I only really had in common with male classmates. But I didn’t want to be a boy. I didn’t really want to be a girl either, though. I didn’t find language for all of this until my late 20s and early 30s, when I finally discovered non-binary genders. In my teenage years, it was just weird. Confusing.


All of those complicated feelings bred a strange relationship with the fiction I consumed. The Star Wars novels I read obsessively from elementary school onward largely had boys and men as protagonists. There were a few women, too, but few and far between, and they always ended up as some guy’s love interest. I identified mostly with the male characters, but always wished I didn’t have to twist things quite so hard to be able to relate.

Even back then, I knew I wanted to be an author. And I knew if I ever did publish a book, it would be a fun, action-packed space adventure like my favorite Star Wars books—but my version would be different. My version would have more room for teens like me.

When I wrote THE DISASTERS, I knew exactly who I wanted to put on my galaxy-saving space squad. It was my new baby niece, biracial and Muslim, and that whole arm of my family. It was the teens I worked with in my day job as a librarian: Black, Bengali, Pakistani, Russian, and more. And it was teenage me, who never got to be the hero: nonbinary, queer six ways from Sunday, and longing for my own spaceship. Sometimes we hear comments about books with high levels of diversity being “unrealistic,” though it reveals far more about the speaker than the book. The world of THE DISASTERS was my world, though. It was the future I dreamed of, one that had plenty of room for all the people I love, and the notes I receive from young readers who see themselves in the pages of this book mean more than anything else in this whole publishing experience.

I’m a YA librarian as well as a YA author, so I have some power to change the narrative on the other side of the equation, too. In my library, I make sure all of my displays and printed book lists are inclusive, not just the heritage month themed ones. When I offer my teen book club a list of titles to vote from, I make that list inclusive, too, and make sure the final selection is balanced. I make sure we address power dynamics in our discussion of these books. And, in whatever way I can, I advocate for inclusiveness at the policy level, and in staff training and hiring.

Authors, librarians, teachers, educators of all sorts—we have the power. Let’s make sure every teen sees that they can be the one behind the controls, holding the lightsaber, and saving the galaxy!

Want some more diverse, smart, fun space books to round out your classroom or library collections? Try these:

Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan

The Nyxia Trilogy by Scott Reintgen

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

About the Author

M.K. England is an author and YA librarian who grew up on the Space Coast of Florida and now calls the mountains of Virginia home. When she’s not writing or librarianing, MK can be found drowning in fandom, rolling dice at the gaming table, climbing on things in the woods, feeding her video game addiction, or talking way too much about space and science literacy. She loves Star Wars with a desperate, heedless passion. It’s best if you never speak of Sherlock Holmes in her presence. You’ll regret it. THE DISASTERS is her debut novel. Follow her at