An Author Interview with Lisa Williamson

h1 {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 20pt;} h2 {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 18pt;} body {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 15pt;} Hey guys! So this week I have a special author interview with Lisa Williamson who kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions. I hope you enjoy her answers!

About Lisa Williamson

Lisa is the author of the book, The Art of Being Normal, which I absolutely loved because it has two transgender characters in who are so different yet so lovely in their own ways. It really reminded me of Jacqueline Wilson! She is also the author of All About Mia and her newest book, Paper Avalanche is out in January 2019.You can read more about Lisa here.

Interview Q&A

What was your inspiration for writing The Art of Being Normal and what part/character was your favourite to write?

I was initially inspired to write about trans teenagers following a two year spell as administrator for the Gender Identity Development Service (the NHS service for young people struggling with gender identity issues) between 2010 and 2012. Having noted a severe lack of transgender protagonists in YA fiction at the time (something which is slowly changing!), I wanted to have a bash at writing something that explored gender identity in a way that reflected the experiences of the young people using the service.

From the very beginning, I wanted to write a book that was about gender identity, but not defined by it, just like the dozens of young people I met. My favourite parts to write were all the horrible bits – the bullying scene and the scene in the woods. I don’t know why, but writing really emotionally charged scenes is the most exciting part of writing for me. My favourite character to write was Leo. I loved how gruff yet vulnerable he is.

What made you want to be a writer? Did you know from a young age you were going to write books?

I’ve always loved stories and from a very early age, I’d make up stories in my head. My first ambition was to be an illustrator and I’d spend hours drawing people and coming up with back stories for them all. As I got older, I developed a love for acting and I sort of forgot about writing for a while! I rediscovered it in my late-twenties when I was temping in offices between acting jobs but it took another six years before I got a publishing deal.

Who is your favourite author/book and why?

I have lots of favourites but one that really stands out is When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. It’s clever, funny, inventive and beautifully written.

What’s your advice for someone going through writer’s block or someone wanting to become a published author?

If you have writer’s block the worst thing you can do is stare at your notebook or computer screen and wait for inspiration to hit. Go for a walk, watch a film, do a really mundane domestic task, write something totally different – anything that will take your mind off your project. More often than not, the solution to your problem will present itself when you’re least expecting it.

My best advice for aspiring authors is to remind yourself it’s not a race. I was 35 when I first got published and I know many authors who were significantly older than that. Writing is a craft and it takes time and hard work to figure out your voice and style. If your destiny is to be a writer, it’ll happen. Just stick at it and try to have as much fun with it as possible.

Do you have any plans to write more books/series?

I do! My next book, Paper Avalanche is out in January 2019 and I’m currently working on a fourth novel.

If you had to pick a quote that you had to live by, which one would it be?

‘Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today’ (Jordan Peterson).

Now, this is a fun question I love. You’re stranded on an island and you can only pick 3 people and 3 objects/things to take with you. Who and what would you take?

My boyfriend Dylan, the author Non Pratt and my good friend Ash. They’re three of the most interesting and inventive people I know. Plus, they’re positive thinkers (a handy trait on a desert island!). In terms of items, I’d go for pen and paper (can that count as one, please?), sunscreen (I’ll burn to a crisp otherwise), and a hammock.

I hope you all enjoyed this author interview and I’ll see you next week! Love, Vee x

LGBT Book Recommendations

Hey guys! So in this week’s blog I’m going to be giving you some LGBT book recommendations!
I think it’s brilliant that more LGBT books are being published and they’re all I read! So without further ado, here are some of my favourites!
Non Binary and Transgender Books

Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day is about a person called A who wakes up in a different body every day. A could be descried as non binary and this book is one of the most unique I have ever read.

A wakes up one day inside Jason and his girlfriend Rhiannon thinks he’s acting strange because he’s never this kind or romantic. Now A has to figure out a way of staying in one body…
I can’t wait to read the sequel, Another Day since the last book was left on a cliffhanger…


If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl is about a transgender girl called Amanda. She moves in with her dad and she hopes no one will find out who she used to be…

Even though there are some unrealistic aspects in the book, it was a heart-wrenching and lovely book about acceptance, friendship and family.

The Art Of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

David Piper is transgender but his family think he’s gay and he gets bullied at school – until he meets Leo. Leo stands up for David and they soon become friends when Leo reveals his past and invites David on an adventure.
This book reminds me of Jacqueline Wilson’s writing and is by far one of my favourite reads. It is heartwarming, real and unpredictable – everything that a good book should be.

Books on sexuality

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On is like Hogwarts but with two wizards who fall in love and defeat the bad guys. Simon Snow is a wizard and Baz, his vampire roommate can’t stand him for being the ‘chosen one.’ However, as they battle together, they soon realise their feelings are more than just magic…
Carry On is fan-fiction from Fangirl, another book by Rowell and I would recommend reading that first.

Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe

Lucy is one of my favourite YouTubers and she used to date and live with her girlfriend Kaelyn Petras, another YouTuber. They both inspired me with their YouTube videos about anxiety, long distance and LGBT topics.
However, they broke up after being long distance for six years and Lucy finished her book before they broke up.

Girl Hearts Girl is about Lucy’s journey to discovering she was gay and how she learned to accept it. Lucy also writes about her experiences with anxiety, school, friends and long distance. IT truly is a lovely book about self discovery and acceptance.
Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Geekerella is exactly what it says it is; a Cinderella story with a geeky twist. Danielle lives with her two evil stepsisters and stepmonster. Danielle loves Starfield, a sci-fi program her and her dad used to watch when he was alive.

Her father built a con for all types of fans and Danielle is upset that there’s going to be a Starfield movie with an actor she hates called Darien Freeman. However, they accidentally start texting, not knowing who each other are and Danielle wants to enter a contest at her father’s con to meet Darien and tell him what she thinks.

Sage, who Danielle works with, helps make her a costume and they go to the con together. It turns out Sage and Danielle’s step sister hit it off and even though there isn’t much mention of the LGBT community, it’s still a cute story worth reading!

So there you go! These are some of my favourite LGBT books and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did!
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Saying Goodbye to 17

Hey there fellow writers and bookworms! So this blog will be a bit different as I turned 18 a few weeks ago and I will be sharing some of my hopes, dreams and everything in between!

I had been waiting for my 18th for such a long time and here it was, right in front of me. For some reason I’m scared of it – I’m finally an adult and I’m still figuring my life out. Going out there and finding what you want to do is scary. But what’s terrifying is never going after your dreams and then regretting it.

In the past year I have overcome anxiety struggles, managed to travel on tubes alone, had several jobs I wasn’t happy in and started a blog. This past year has been a roller coaster of tears, fears and hoping and praying.

In the past year I’ve traveled to Portugal, Ibiza and New York with my partner and see some wonderful sights. I can’t wait to travel more in the future.

I have also started this blog and an Instagram to keep me busy and improve my writing. I have been on a writing course, I became a writing intern and I am writing more than ever.

I’ve lost friends and gained new, better ones. I’ve made up with people I never thought I would and I’ve come to realise that these things take time to heal. Wounds are being stitched up and there’s better days to come.

Goals for the year ahead

My goals for this year include to be happy and to take care of myself more than I ever have before. I am planning my future without procrastinating and I’m taking care of my mental health by pushing myself to go out and have some me time. I love the freedom that comes with realising you can do anything you put your mind to.

Another goal for this year is to start saving for mine and my boyfriend’s future together. I am making sure I treat myself but I’m also saving for rainy days and the future ahead.

I want to see my family happy and healthy and I also want to travel even more if I have the funds.

I’m also thinking of taking driving lessons and I’m really excited about that!

Overall, this year has been hard but rewarding and I can’t wait to embark on a new year and a new life as the true me.

Book Review #3 Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews

Hi guys!

I just finished reading Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews. I did really enjoy reading about his journey and transition and without further ado here is my review!

About

Arin Andrews is transgender and realises this from a young age. However, he doesn’t know what transgender means until he hears about it when he is older. Arin always knew he was different and growing up within a religious family and being transgender is always hard. But thankfully, Arin’s mum came around and helped her son transition and even helped pay for top surgery.

Arin goes on a journey of self discovery as he writes about the friends he lost, relationships he was in and the dysphoria of having to go every day in a body that didn’t match his mind.

Review

I enjoyed this book and all LGBTQ books in general but I love how Arin was so honest about his journey and what he felt as a transgender man. Arin does a lot of good for the LGBTQ community and was even awarded the Carolyn Wagner Youth Leadership Award and has spoken about himself and Katie Hill – his ex girlfriend who is a transgender women – on camera and shows such as the Trisha Goddard show.

The book really showed who Arin is as a person and the hard, painful journey he went on to self discovery. Arin is very open about talking about his transition and says people can contact him if they need help or need to chat. I think he is a very nice young man and I’m so happy his mum came around in helping him transition. His mother is very religious and at first she wasn’t happy about him being with a girl (Arin doesn’t consider himself gay or bisexual but someone who is attracted to people once getting to know their personality) as he was dating Darian who he went to dance class with.

Eventually, because of lack of connection, Arin and Darian broke up and Arin found Katie Hill who is also an activist for the LGBTQ community and has also been awarded the Carolyn Wagner Youth Leadership Award.

Arin and Katie brought out separate books after their break up and Arin was very honest in his book that Katie had cheated on him. However, whenever they were on talk shows together, he would have to pretend that they were in different places. Arin was also with Austin who was briefly mentioned at the end of the book. He is now dating a man called Kelby. He occasionally posts on YouTube and Instagram.

I found it difficult to read about how Arin didn’t want to wear “girls clothes” and wanted to wear “boys clothes” even though clothes don’t have genders and colours are also not associated with males or females. Yet Arin seems to keep going back to the subject of how he wanted to do more boyish things. I don’t think it matters whether you’re a boy and want to dance or you’re a girl and want to be a truck driver. However, Arin did make it clear that from a young age he liked Motocross and eventually joined a flying squadron.

Sourced from Simon and Schuster

One thing that is confusing is that people will say they always knew they were trans and that most people know from a young age. This is true for some trans people, but not all. Not everyone knows from such a young age. Katie Hill says in an interview with Arin that most transgender people know they are trans by the ages of 4 and 5. This is definitely not true. Everyone is different. And everyone realises at different times. Whether you are 4, 10, 15, 25, 50 or so on, you know what you feel and nothing anyone says should make you feel otherwise.

Overall, I would rate this book 4/5 ☆ because I enjoyed hearing Arin’s honesty and his journey. I think lots of transgender or gender questioning people would benefit from this read. There is even a list of resources in the book, movie and book recommendations, how to talk to your new transgender friend guide and a reading group guide.

If you want to know more about Arin and his story, visit his YouTube channel or visit his Instagram: arinandrews

Don’t forget to tell me in the comments what you thought of the book!

My Bookstagram: neurotic.writer.ramblings

Book Review #1 The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Hi guys!

So this is going to be my first proper book review on here. My review is on a book I finished last week called ‘The Art of Being Normal’ by Lisa Williamson.

About

This book is so heartwarming and beautifully written about David Piper and Leo Denton, two students who attend Eden Park School. David is a year below Leo and wants to transition into a girl. However, he is too afraid to confront his parents and thinks they will disown him if he tells them the truth. David’s friends know that he is transgender and are very supportive. Harry Beaumont, however, is the school bully and picks on David and calls him ‘Freak Show.’ Harry and his infamous gang are bullying David and this is where Leo comes to the rescue. He stands up to Harry and slowly but surely Leo and David strike up a friendship. At first it’s just Leo teaching David math but soon David’s persistent character manages to grind Leo down and we see a different side of him.

My Opinion 

I enjoyed how Lisa has written each character separate chapters in the first person so we can truly get a feel for their personalities. Lisa’s plot almost reminds me of Jacqueline Wilson’s writing and the issues she talks about; especially when Leo goes searching for his Dad.

My favourite character has got to be Leo Denton because at the start of the book he’s guarded and likes to fly under the radar, so to speak, and then he changes by the end of the book into a more open person. I think it ties in well with how Lisa reveals Leo’s big secret because even the readers don’t know about it until Leo himself says something. This describes perfectly how Leo and David are the narrators of their own book; they slowly trust the readers with their guarded lives and slowly reveal themselves – especially Leo. To let David and Alicia know his secret was a big step for Leo and proves that as the story goes on, he learns to trust again. Eventually we see him unravel as Lisa slowly breaks him down. By the end of the book Leo still isn’t totally open but he has made a giant leap and has gone on a long journey.

David is also unrecognizable by the end and comes a long way, with the help of his friends and family, to accepting and being who he is on the inside.

I’m so proud that there are more books being published highlighting issues such as bullying regarding being transgender; being different. There are times in this book where I wanted to cringe and put it down, fearful that if I read any further, something bad was going to happen. But as much as this book is centered on issues such as bullying, there are also some wonderfully heartwarming moments of acceptance and support that could bring tears to your eyes.

Lisa portrays Leo and David’s differences from others as a good yet tough experience; she teaches that you don’t have to be normal to fit in – you just have to be you. Lisa definitely did her research; especially on testosterone and transitioning in the UK. After all, she did work at GIDS (Gender Identity Development Service). However, for someone who isn’t transgender herself, Lisa certainly knows a lot about how it can feel to be transgender and how painful dysphoria can be. She became inspired by transgender teens when working at GIDS and decided to write The Art of Being Normal.

Overall, I feel like this is one of the books I found hard to put down and I had no idea how it was going to end.

Let me know what you thought of The Art of Being Normal in the comments!

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