The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Picture of Bill Konigsberg

Bill Konigsberg

Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference Faculty, 2018

Bill Konigsberg is the award-winning author of four young adult novels. The Porcupine of Truth won the PEN Center USA Literary Award and the Stonewall Book Award in 2016. Openly Straight won the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor, and was a finalist for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award and Lambda Literary Award in 2014. His debut novel, Out of the Pocket won the Lambda Literary Award in 2009. His most recent novel, Honestly Ben, received three starred reviews, from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal. He lives in Chandler, Arizona, with his husband, Chuck, and their Australian Labradoodles, Mabel and Buford.


Selected Media

"Honestly Ben's Bill Konigsberg On Writing the Sequel He'd Never Planned." Nivea Serrao, Entertainment Weekly (Mar 28, 2017).

"With Openly Straight, I thought I had written a stand-alone book, but what happened was there was so much reaction from fans who read the book as a romance. That’s not actually how I wrote it. I wrote the book with the romance, but I wrote it as a coming-of-age story. So I thought the book had ended. But, I got so many responses, like thousands, on Twitter, and they all say the same thing: “I love you, and I hate you.” I happened to be talking to my editor, and I mentioned that. I said, “Do you want a book from Ben’s perspective that follows up?” and she just said, “Yes, that. Write me that. Now.” So, that’s what happened."

"Bill Konigsberg." RUComingOut."

Coming out as a teen was one of the hardest, most traumatic experiences I've ever had, and I think I gravitated toward writing the kinds of books I write because of this. It's a way of re-living and re-imagining my own experience, as well as "paying it forward" and helping others who are coming out now. It was a different time when I came out for the first time -- the 1980s. We didn't have all the gay role models that we have now, and I had to search the word "homosexuality" in my school library. All that came up were stories of this new disease -- AIDS -- that was killing gay men. Consequently I felt very alone, and I also felt very afraid. My experience telling family members was really mixed."

"Industry Q&A with Author Bill Konigsberg.Children's Book Council Diversity (2013).

"I want to include all different sorts of characters, and I do. In my current project, one of my two protagonists is an African American lesbian who lives in Billings, Montana. In creating a character like this, I need to be careful to sidestep expectations and archetypes. In reality, she is a person. A person whose background includes many different experiences, some that I share, and some that I don’t. For those I don’t, I need to find another entry point so that I can understand what it feels like to be in her skin. This is one of the great challenges of writing, and I love it. I can’t tell you yet whether I will be successful in creating this character, but it won’t be for lack of effort."


"The True Meaning of Patriotism." Bill Konigsberg, The Huffington Post (Oct 1, 2015). See also My Trans Education and Hot-Headed in Houston: An LGBTQ Author Goes Rogue.

"If I’ve learned one thing on my trip around the United States, talking to LGBTQ youth about coming out and suicide and depression for The Trevor Project, it’s the fact that the concept of unity in this country is an impossibility [ . . . ] I do believe the word “united” is probably the wrong word for what these states are. United in what?"


"Exclusive Excerpt from Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg." Nivea Serrao, Entertainment Weekly (Mar 3, 2017).

"When the announcement came over the loudspeaker that I needed to go to the headmaster’s office, I thought: Maybe they’re putting me on academic probation?

It was the first morning of classes after winter break, and as I hur­ried across the empty quad to the administration building, all bundled up in my brown hooded jacket, part of me realized how crazy that was — one C plus wasn’t exactly probation­worthy. Another part of me couldn’t stop my heart from pounding because I was sure I’d done something bad.

I’d never been to Headmaster Taylor’s office. Swank. I sat in the waiting room, which was all wood paneling and high ceilings and sculptures. It even smelled manly, like the aftershave lotion my old roommate, Bryce, used to put on before parties.

The secretary told me the headmaster would see me, and I stood up and slowly walked toward his door, trying to get my heart to stop pounding in my ears. I opened the door."