For this weeks Ask the Author I'm bringing you someone I'm extremely excited about. I've read her book not too long after it was released back in April and loved it because it was so different. If you're interested you can find my review here. Of course I am talking about the lovely I.W. Gregorio, the author of None of the Above.
Here is her book and her A's for my Q's:
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Published: April 7th 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Number of Pages: 352 Pages (Hardcover)
A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex... and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.
What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?
When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.
But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."
Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self? (goodreads.com)
Interview with I.W. Gregorio
1 – Describe None of the Above in form of a haiku (or twitter pitch).
Kristin had it all
Then - do her chromosomes change
Who she is? And why?
2 – What inspired you to write a story about a girl that is intersex? Was it to educate those who don’t even know something like that exists, or rather to share a very special and unique story?
I was inspired to write NOTA after my first experience treating a teenager with AIS - I was struck by how difficult her life must be because intersex is so shrouded with unnecessary stigma and secrecy. So yes, I party wrote my book to increase awareness, and also to make intersex men and women know that their stories are being told.
3 – How hard was it, especially throughout the first couple of chapters, to balance plot and information’s regarding intersex?
Extremely difficult! I had to rely a lot on metaphors and have numerous checks and balances (friends, laypeople readers) to tell me when I was being too medical-ly and assuming too much. My editors, Alessandra Balzer, Sara Sargent and Kelsey Murphy, were great about pointing out areas I could clarify or cut out!
4 – What, besides the obvious, makes Kristin stand out in the sea of female contemporary main characters?
Her inner strength. What I tried to show was how Kristin at times had to shield her father from her diagnosis (this is something that a lot of kids with medical issues end up doing). It was definitely something she did at her own cost, but many things, especially the decision to have surgery, were done because of her desire to alleviate her father's stress.
5 – How important, on a scale from 1 to 10 (where 10 is very important), do you think is it for teens and young adults to read books like None of the Above? Do you think they should be read in schools?
Definitely a 10 (and I've been thrilled that many librarians feel the same way)! I think there are few people who can't learn from my book and, at the same time, be entertained by it. More than ever, kids these days understand that gender is not a binary, and the more people who realize that biology does not equal gender which does not equal sexual orientation, the safer the world will be for LGBTQIA teens, who are at higher risk of suicide and bullying. That's why I think projects like the Rainbow Boxes are so, so important.
6 - How long did it take you from first idea until publishing deal? And how many queries did it take until you found 'the one'?
Yikes, about 5 years. I came up with the idea during residency, and had a child, and then moved across the country and started a new job - so you could say I didn't have a lot of free time on my hands! I sent out a lot of queries, then held off on sending fulls when I realized after a very early R&R (after less than 24 hours had gone by!) that I needed to change from dual POV to single narrrative. Then, I got my agent on a partial at a conference :)
7 – How does it feel like to know that your story is out there right now and anybody can pick it up? Were you scared, anxious, nervous, of the publication day?
I was definitely anxious. Most of all, I was nervous that no one would read it. That I would put the book out and it would be like shouting into the void. I'd almost rather NOTA be hated rather than ignored (okay, it's awful to be hated). But there's nothing, NOTHING like realizing that strangers are out there reading the book and being moved to talk about it, and about intersex. I'm so, so happy about what little I can do to lift the veil that's shrouding the lives of so many intersex women and men.
8 – What do you think about the cover? Is it like anything you imagined it might look like?
I think the cover is perfect. I always knew that this wouldn't be a "girl torso" book, and we had brainstormed some graphical ideas. We've gotten feedback from a lot of booksellers that the cover really pops, so I'm quite happy!
9 – Who are your three favorite authors? Why?
Madeleine L'Engle - Because no SFF writer captured the sense of lonely teenager-doom better
Peter S Beagle - Because The Last Unicorn is still one of the most breathtakingly poignant books I've ever read about loss and regret
Ellen Raskin - Because her attention to detail, sense of characterization, and compassion for her characters inspires me to this day. Plus she was funny and all of her stories had a terrific mystery/puzzle element.
10 – Historical fiction or Mysteries?
Definitely historical fiction! That's why I thought Stacey Lee's Under the Painted Sky. :) Definitely one of my favorite debuts this year.
11 – If you were forced to participate in The Hunger Games, as female from District 12, what would be your strategy? Fight or flight?
Fight. But sneakily :)
I. W. Gregorio is a practicing surgeon by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. A graduate of the Yale School of Medicine, she studied creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University. While a surgical resident, she published in the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and Washington Post. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. NONE OF THE ABOVE (Balzer & Bray / HarperCollins, Fall of 2015) is her first novel. She is represented by Jessica Regel of Foundry + Media.