Alice Oseman was born in 1994 in Kent, England. She is studying English at the University of Durham. She likes to make things quite a lot. She likes to make books, mainly. But she also likes to make other cool things. She's generally a good egg. Hopefully, she'll avoid having to get a real job for as long as possible.
Alice wrote a book when she was seventeen. That book, SOLITAIRE, was published by HarperCollins on the thirty-first of July, 2014.
Would you tell us some details of your life? When did you start writing "Solitaire"?
I wrote the book in the two last years of school. I only did it for fun, there was no intention for publication.
Now I am studying English Literature at Durham University. I am planning to take some time off for writing after I have finished university.
Why did you start writing? Was there a concrete beginning point?
There wasn’t a concrete beginning point. I have been writing ever since I was little, it has always been my hobby. In my early teens I wrote a fantasy novel for several years, which helped
improving my writing skills. I have always just started writing texts, without having planned anything beforehand.
Where did you get your characters' names for the book "Solitaire" from?
In the beginning Nick was called Luke, so they are not all set in the beginning.
Finding and choosing names is really difficult, it depends really much on the sound of the names. „Tori“ sounds blunt, that’s also her personality. You see what you get when you hear the name „Tori“. „Charlie“ sounds kind and gentle. And I also try to imagine what the characters’ parents would have chosen.
What is your inspiration for your stories?
Solitaire was mainly inspired by contemporary fictional books. I’ve been reading the novel „The catcher in the rye“ by that time, which is a classic coming of age novel. I like reading and
enjoying this kind of story. But there wasn’t anything written from my world, so I decided to write it myself.
What do you like reading in your free time?
Contemporary fictional books – but I read anything to be honest. However uni has drained me from my current desire to read.
Who is the novel-hero you love most?
Have you had a special event as an author? Which one has it been?
This year I have been tot he YALC in the UK. I enjoyed it very much, being there as an author and talking about books.
Have you ever wanted to change something in your novel after the book's publication?
I have read the whole book again after the publication. If I could it now I would go back and put in more ethnic diversity.
Who is your favourite character?
Either Tori, who I feel closest to or Charlie because of his wonderful personality.
With which character would you like to spend a day? What would you be doing?
I’d spend a day with Michael, we’d go ice skating. I have been ice skating once, very recently in fact. But I am really not good at it! I just love it but can’t do it.
Do you also like writing articles for magazines? In your opinion where is the biggest difference between books and articles?
I don’t really enjoy it so much. Creative writing feels more like an art. For articles you need to do a lot of research, they have to be written very eloquently and in a very clever way – you’ve
got kind of pressure put on you. With books you don’t have this kind of thing.
Writing a book: What are the biggest difficulties in the process? What do you personally find quite easy?
The hardest thing is coming up with the actual plot. The easiest thing is creating the characters and the persons. I just prefer writing about characters rather than writing about
How easy is it to persuade publishers concerning your ideas for a new novel?
The research was done by my literary agent. I handed them over the first three chapters of the book, a synopsis and a query letter. So my agent actually looked for a publisher and Harper Collins
bought my book in the end and we also had the permission to have world rights, so we negotiated with other countries.
How do you organize writing a book? How long does it take you?
I always start with creating the characters. I try to imagine the things they would say, in which relationship they are with each other. Then I write a structure of the story – in bullet points.
I try to write the book in a chronological order. All in all it took me about 4-5 months.
Publishing "Solitaire": What have you expected and what has now become reality?
I would never have expected to be in Frankfurt – just as I am now. I have made lots of new experiences and it is very exciting all the time.
Have you ever been to a workshop for improving your writing skills? Did it help you?
I tried to go to the creative writing society at university. But I just didn’t enjoy it. I think all in all I only went once. This program was only about short stories and doing writing games, so nothing what would help me.
Do you prefer writing for children or adults? Why so?
I prefer writing for teens, because that’s what I know best. I can imagine different situations and can develop those plots further...
How strongly do you feel connected to the protagonist?
Some attitudes are the same but not everything. I for example love Pride and Prejudice – the book and the film! Tori doesn’t like reading. I made her not like reading, cause it’s kind of a cliché already that authors often create their protagonists in the way that they love reading. So I decided to do the opposite.
Your favourite scene?
When Tori and Charlie talk to each other in the hospital’s waiting room.
Are you working on a new book at the moment?
Yes, I am. The new book will be written in the same genre, there will be similar themes used, but the characters will be a bit older.
Thank you, Alice, for your extremely interesting answers :).