I do not think almost all of my main characters are? Cynthia, Mel and Kami are women of colour. Alan is disabled. Angela and Jamie are gay.
That said: I am a very flawed person and of course I could, and wish in the future, to do better. A lot of my characters definitely are privileged—Ash, Jared, Kit, Mae and Nick are all white, non-disabled, cisgendered and present as straight. (I don’t necessarily see them as straight, but as they give no definite indication that they’re not, I don’t think I deserve any credit for anything that’s not in the books.) I try to examine their privilege, and not to give them narrative privilege within the text over other characters.
Nor am I saying that my characters who do not conform to the all-white all-straight able-bodied cisgendered default are perfect representation: I am very sure they’re not, and that despite my best efforts I have made mistakes. They are important to me, though, and so I try and do right by them, and every time I make a mistake with them I am grateful when it is pointed out and attempt to do better in the future.
I’m not saying I deserve any special credit, any praise, or a cookie, for trying: trying is the only correct way to behave, and I wish I was capable of doing a better job. I am very aware of my shortcomings as a white straight author who comes from a pretty privileged background. (The Ireland I grew up in was not a diverse place, though it has been getting more diverse.) Other authors certainly do better: Malinda Lo’s excellent fantasy novels inspired by Chinese and Celtic culture, Kate Elliott’s Spirit Walker series which she describes as an ‘Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency fantasy adventure.’ Often, I am held back by my own ingrained falling back on defaults, and by fear of messing up.
It is also worth remembering that authors are not the only ones controlling the face of YA. I tried to sell a novel centred on a gay romance: it was not bought. I am not saying this was because publishers are cruel and homophobic—maybe the story was lousy! My sales are lousy, so I totally understand publishers not wanting to take chances on novels of mine. Should I ever have the power of being, um, even slightly successful, I would try to use that power to promote more diversity: to get books published and promoted that otherwise would not be. I think the bestselling authors we have should try to do that now.
I am committed to changing the face of YA, insofar as I am able. That doesn’t mean I always do a good job, and I am always sorry not to have done better. I hope my previous books show that I am trying, but I also hope my future books (if I get to write future books) will show I am doing better.