Interview with Alice Oseman
Updated: Sep 8
Brief Bio: Alice Oseman is an author and illustrator that has written four YA contemporary novels about teenage disasters: Solitaire, Radio Silence, I Was Born For This, and the upcoming Loveless. She is also the creator of LGBTQ+ YA romance webcomic Heartstopper, which is now published in physical form by Hachette Children's Books. Loveless is set to release on July 9, 2020.
What does “diversity” in books mean to you as both a writer and a reader?
“Diversity” is marginalized voices taking centre stage. This doesn’t just mean having diverse characters in books – it also means uplifting, supporting, and making space for marginalized writers, it means employing marginalized voices at every level in publishing houses, and it also means editors and writers giving serious care and attention to the marginalized experiences that are written about in books.
What book did you first see yourself and your experiences represented, and how did that feel?
The first (and only) book I’ve read in which I felt represented was in Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, in which the protagonist realizes that she doesn’t feel romantic or sexual attraction to anyone of any gender, and the story ends without her being in a relationship. It was a really wonderful feeling.
Tell me about a book that changed how you look at the world. How did that book explore diverse voices or characters?
I recently read Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera, which follows a Puerto Rican young gay woman (Juliet) who accepts an internship with a famous feminist writer, who is a white gay woman named Harlowe. The book explores how Juliet’s view of the world and her own identity as a lesbian and a feminist has been limited and warped by Harlowe’s white/cis-centric feminism, and how Juliet’s world is expanded by the presence of other queer people of colour in her life. It’s a really eloquent and engaging critique of white/cis feminism and performative ally-ship. I’d highly recommend it to anyone.
How has being part of a particular identity group shaped your writing process? Being aro-ace has certainly made me write books that place a strong focus on friendship as opposed to romance! Friendship is at the heart of Loveless, as it is in my previous books, because my friendships are the most important relationships in my own life. Being a queer person has also meant that I always end up writing an array of LGBTQ+ characters into my stories.
What are some diverse identities and experiences your book explores?
Loveless explores what it’s like to discover and come to terms with being both aromantic and asexual when you have absolutely no knowledge of either of these identities. Georgia, the protagonist, has barely even heard of these words when they first present themselves to her. Loveless also features a character who is homoromantic asexual, and one who is aromantic bisexual. The asexual and aromantic spectrums are vast, and it would be impossible for me to feature every single asexual and aromantic identity out there, but I do explore a few – mainly my own experience of being aro-ace through Georgia.
Which character in your book do you connect with most? Why?
Definitely the narrator, Georgia. While Loveless is not autobiographical, I channeled a lot of my personal experiences and feelings through her.
What type of reaction are you hoping your readers will have to your book?
Above all, I hope people will enjoy it! While this book does have some serious themes, I also think it’s quite funny and silly in places, and hopefully that will make a damn fun read. I also do hope that it brings some comfort and solidarity to other aro-ace folks, and it’s helpful to those who don’t understand much about asexuality or aromanticism.
What’s next for you? Do you have another book you’re working on?
I’m not currently working on another prose novel, but my graphic novel series Heartstopper is continuing! In February 2020, Volume 3 was released, and Volume 4 will be released in 2021.
Thank you to Alice for being so willing and helpful in answering the questions I had.
If you want to check out Alice's website, click HERE!
You can look forward to more author interviews soon.