“The deeply grounded and original perspective of this story brings readers into both the worlds of Navajo blessing songs, rain songs, and traditional healing and everyday family relationships. Hands readers a meaningful new take on family love.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Author and filmmaker, Brian Young is a graduate of both Yale University with a Bachelor’s in Film Studies and Columbia University with a Master’s in Creative Writing Fiction. An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, he grew up on the Navajo Reservation but now currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. As an undergraduate, Brian won a fellowship with the prestigious Sundance Ford Foundation with one of his feature length scripts. He has worked on several short films including Tsídii Nááts’íílid – Rainbow Bird and A Conversation on Race with Native Americans for the short documentary series produced by the New York Times. Brian is currently working on another book with Heartdrum, an imprint of HarperCollins. In addition to film and writing, Brian also works as a personal trainer, both online and in person.

Brian's Featured Titles

Heroes of the Water Monster

Heartdrum |
Middle Grade Fiction

An unmissable companion to Healer of the Water Monster, which won the American Indian Library Association Youth Literature Award, this novel by Navajo author Brian Young tells the story of two contemporary young Navajo heroes—and one water monster—who must learn to work together to save their present world from the lasting hurts of their people’s past.

Edward feels ready to move in with his dad’s girlfriend and her son, Nathan. He might miss having his dad all to himself, but even if things in their new home are a little awkward, living with Nathan isn’t so bad. And Nathan is glad to have found a new guardian for Dew, the young water monster who has been Nathan’s responsibility for two years. Now that Nathan is starting to lose his childhood connection to the Holy Beings, Edward will be the one to take over as Dew’s next guardian.

But Edward has a lot to learn about taking care of a water monster. And fast. Because Dew’s big sister, the powerful Yitoo Bii’aanii, is coming up to Fourth World to instruct Dew after recovering in the Third World for one hundred and sixty years. She suspects a monstrous and enormous Enemy from the Hero Twins stories has returned and is stealing water from all of the Navajo Nation.

In their search for the Modern Enemy, Nathan, Edward, Dew, and Yitoo must confront their past and their inner selves if they are to save the Fourth World from a devastating disaster.

A riveting, emotionally affecting adventure!

Healer of the Water Monster

Heartdrum |
Middle/YA

American Indian Youth Literature Award Winner: Best Middle Grade Book! Brian Young’s powerful debut novel tells of a seemingly ordinary Navajo boy who must save the life of a Water Monster—and comes to realize he’s a hero at heart.

When Nathan goes to visit his grandma, Nali, at her mobile summer home on the Navajo reservation, he knows he’s in for a pretty uneventful summer, with no electricity or cell service. Still, he loves spending time with Nali and with his uncle Jet, though it’s clear when Jet arrives that he brings his problems with him.

One night, while lost in the nearby desert, Nathan finds someone extraordinary: a Holy Being from the Navajo Creation Story—a Water Monster—in need of help.

Now Nathan must summon all his courage to save his new friend. With the help of other Navajo Holy Beings, Nathan is determined to save the Water Monster, and to support Uncle Jet in healing from his own pain.

The Heartdrum imprint centers a wide range of intertribal voices, visions, and stories while welcoming all young readers, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes. In partnership with We Need Diverse Books.

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

Heartdrum |
Childrens Short Stories

Edited by award-winning and bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.

Native families from Nations across the continent gather at the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In a high school gym full of color and song, people dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. Young protagonists will meet relatives from faraway, mysterious strangers, and sometimes one another (plus one scrappy rez dog).

They are the heroes of their own stories.

Featuring stories and poems by:
Joseph Bruchac
Art Coulson
Christine Day
Eric Gansworth
Carole Lindstrom
Dawn Quigley
Rebecca Roanhorse
David A. Robertson
Andrea L. Rogers
Kim Rogers
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Monique Gray Smith
Traci Sorell,
Tim Tingle
Erika T. Wurth
Brian Young

In partnership with We Need Diverse Books

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Educational Journey

Brian talks about his education journey and path towards being published. Brian leaves time at the end of his presentation for Q&A from students.

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Practical Practicum for the Ready-To-Be-Published”

This workshop focuses on writing a query letter. Brian has offered it as an eight week course to college aged students, but can also condense it to fit into a 2-hour workshop for high school students who seek to make writing their career.

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Macro and Micro Moments: Looking at Your Manuscript From a Distance for Revising Opportunities

This workshop focuses on craft regarding plotting and structuring a novel.

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Native American Perspective on Manifest Destiny

This presentation has been geared toward international students who don’t know much about the United States and Indigenous coummunities.

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Diverse Stories From Authentic Voices

This presentation highlights the need for diverse voices and how they can save communities. Brian centers his talk around Atarnarjuat: the Fast Runner and its impact on reducing suicide in the Inuktitut community. This is more of a talk about the need for and importance of diverse books.

Upcoming Events

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Indie Next List
American Indian Library Association Youth Literature Award

Media clips

Coming soon

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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