Interview with Alyssa Brugman

Hey there! I know I haven’t posted anything for months and I do apologize. I’ve just been very busy preparing for college (I’m moving in the 27th) and I haven’t had the time to blog,but I do have a treat for those of you who do read my blog. The lovely Alyssa Brugman (Winner of the WA Premier’s Book Award for YA) allowed me to interview her on her newest book to be released in the states called “Alex as Well”.

1. Can you give us a brief synopsis of Alex as Well?

Alex is a teenager who was raised a boy but decides to identify as female.

2. What was the inspiration behind the story?

I wrote it for my PhD in unreliable narration. The manuscript demonstrated the techniques that I talked about in my thesis.

3. What I found really interesting is that we’re given insight into Alex’s mom and how she views things. Usually in YA, the parents often come off as one-dimensional and just serve as obstacles for the main protagonists. Was that a conscientious decision you made when writing this?

David, the father, speaks to the reader through dialogue. His point of view is relatively uncomplicated, when you compare it to the unreliability of his wife and child. The reader can see how his position grows and changes over the course of the novel in the conversations that he has with other characters. There was no need for me as a writer to impose more information than he offers on his own.The mother and the protagonist, on the other hand, have a much more mixed range of emotions, and so I needed to employ a number of different devices for the reader to get a sense of both what they wanted us to see, but also what they were trying to hide.

4. I don’t personally identify as LGBT or inter-sex, but I really loved this book. What has the response you’ve gotten been like from the LGBT community?

I have had a mixed response from the LGBTI community. Some people are really pleased to see an intersex character represented. Others have felt that I don’t have a right to tell this story since I am not intersex. Either way I welcome debate about the topic.

5. What kind of research did you have to do before writing this? Was there any specific books that helped?

I was studying narratology at the time, so I did a great deal of research into the various narrative strategies that I applied in the book, but I also read about people who are transgender and intersex.

6. What messages, if any, would you hope readers take away from this?

Alex listens to pop tunes and likes fashion. She has a crush, and a group of friends she hangs out with. She fights with her parents and thinks they are unfair. Alex is a young person who happens to be intersex. I would hope readers find as much familiar in her experience as they find different.

7. What books inspired you to become a writer? Is there any books you’ve liked that you’ve read recently?

Some of my favourite books are: Barney’s Version by Mordecai Rickler, Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and Infidel by Aayan Hirsi Ali. The book I most recently finished was Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, which I really enjoyed.

8. Has your writing process changed since you’ve written your first book?

I hope I’ve got better! I’m much faster than I used to be, and I am quickler to abandon a project if it’s not working.

9. This is just me being curious but I like poetry, but sometimes I feel the world doesn’t like poetry. It doesn’t get the same respect as novels do and they don’t sell as well. What are your thoughts on that?

Poetry is tricky to sell, but on the other hand, song lyrics are poetry, and they sell millions and millions every day.

10. You probably get asked this a lot, but is there any advice you can give to aspiring writers?

My own experience and what I have observed of other writers that I know is that once it has become part of what you do it’s harder not to write. It’s an energy that needs expending in some form. It’s probably marginally more productive to write manuscripts, or maybe song lyrics, than to engage in wars on the internet or compose odes for unrequited lovers.

Thank you to Alyssa Brugman for allowing me to interview her and you can pick up a copy of her book “Alex as Well” from the link below.


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