One of the best things about choosing books for #LoveOzYAbookclub is getting the chance to introduce debut authors – and this month we have an interview with OzYA debut Poppy Nwosu about her book MAKING FRIENDS WITH ALICE DYSON.
Poppy Nwosu grew up in Queensland, lived for a time in the UK and Europe, and now writes from her home base in Adelaide. ALICE DYSON was shortlisted for the 2018 Adelaide Festival Unpublished Manuscript Award, and the 2019 Readings Young Adult Book Prize. Poppy was also awarded the 2019 Writers SA Varuna the Writers’ House Fellowship for Young Writers. Her second book TAKING DOWN EVELYN TAIT is due for release in April 2020 – and there’s another interview with Poppy here if you’d like to know more!
* Why this book? Why this story?
Making Friends with Alice Dyson came from the idea that I wanted to write something fun and positive and entertaining, in the same vein as Finding Cassie Crazy by Jaclyn Moriarty, which always made me so happy. My story was inspired by a very cute caught on camera viral video from South Korea of two teenagers doing goofy dances at each other on the way home from school (you can still find it floating around the internet). I thought it was such an adorable moment, caught in time, and I couldn’t help wonder what their story was, what their friendship was like that they could be so goofy and comfortable in front of each other.
It really got me thinking, and led to me wanting to write a romantic story based on a solid friendship like theirs.
* What other media inspired you during the writing of this book? Songs, TV, movies, other books…it’s all grist for the mill!
I am very inspired by songs and lyrics, movies and shows. I find watching and reading is the best way to keep me creative. For this novel I was very inspired by some of the Japanese shoujo anime I was watching at the time. They are often very cute and romantic, with a sweet and nuanced look at making friends and being brave enough to put yourself out there. I think those same themes wound their way into my book.
* Why write for teenagers?
I don’t think I particularly did set out to write for teenagers, it was more about wanting to write the kind of stories that I love reading. Basically I am a massive YA fiction fan, and most of my favourite books are YA. Therefore, it only felt natural that when I started writing, I began writing YA too.
But in terms of what drew me to love YA in the first place, I think it is because of the huge focus within YA literature on growth, change and the coming of age theme. No matter if YA books are contemporary or set in space, I feel like they always have such a strong focus on the protagonist figuring out who they are and who they want to be, and I really love that.
I feel that as a theme, the idea of character growth and change is so universal, and I am always drawn back to it, no matter how old I get. It still feels so relevant to me. Probably because even as an adult I am constantly changing and reassessing myself. I don’t feel like that focus on growth ever ends.
I love exploring that same theme when I am writing stories, and I really hope to write books that make readers feel the same way my favourite YA books make me feel.
* Trash Media Challenge – which fave trash movie/show would you cheerily inflict on your friends?
I LOVE this question.
I have often pushed all the very old romantic comedy movies starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on my family. Some people may think they are cheesy and embarrassing romances, but I think they are beautiful! My favourites are Follow the Fleet and Carefree.
Fred and Ginger are endlessly charming!
* Your fave line of poetry is…
I am a huge fan of Pablo Neruda and Rumi, and it is very very difficult for me to choose a favourite line, but here is one of my many favourites from Rumi:
Walk out as a lion, as a rose. Inhale autumn, long for spring.
Poppy, thank you so much for joining in with us on #LoveOzYAbookclub, and see you in 2020!