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Beloved YA author Heather Brewer, best known for two successful vampire series The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod and The Slayer Chronicles, has come out as transgender, the author told Publishers Weekly in a recent interview. He also wrote on Tumblr that his name will now be Zachary Oliver Brewer — Zac for short — and his preferred pronouns are he/him/his.

“I realized about nine years ago that I was transgender,” Brewer told Publishers Weekly. “I’ve been in therapy for a little while now and have learned that my depression, anxiety, and suicidal urges largely stem from an inability to live as my true self. I am so big on authenticity. I always say to my Minions, ‘Own your weird. Embrace who you are, and whoever you are, you are special.’ It’s been weighing on me that I’m not taking my own advice. How can you tell the world to do it and not do it yourself?” He also said that the transition will begin in a few months.

Many of Brewer’s fans (known as “minions”) have used the endearing moniker “Auntie Heather” to refer to the author, but he wrote on Tumblr that fans can now call him “Uncle Zac.”

The truth is, Minions, I’m transgender,” he wrote. “I am a man—a gay man, actually—and it’s time to live as my true self. I’m soon going to begin my physical transition. It would be nice if I could flip a switch and BAM! present fully as the man that I am inside, but these things take time, and I’m happy to share my journey with you.”

Brewer also posted a note on Facebook, announcing a break from social media. He thanked fans for support. “I just want a moment just to bask in this light, to step out of this closet that has been my home for 41 years and spread my arms wide, tipping my face skyward,” the author wrote. “Just a moment to close my eyes and breathe and smile and love who I am. And I do. I feel free. Probably because I am free now.

“This is the happiest I have ever been in my entire life,” Brewer told Publishers Weekly. “It’s an incredible thing to live as your authentic self.”

Brewer’s most recent book, The Cemetery Boys, debuted in March. For more from Brewer, head to Publishers Weekly.