Alice Oseman | 'I began with the desire to write a story about the power of platonic love'

Alice Oseman | 'I began with the desire to write a story about the power of platonic love'

Alice Oseman answers our questions about her fourth novel Loveless (HarperCollins), which has been shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2021

1. Can you sum up your book in one sentence?

Loveless is a coming-out story about Georgia, a romance-obsessed 18-year-old who goes to university with a plan to experience her first relationship, only to discover that she is aromantic and asexual.

2. What inspired the book?

I began with the desire to write a story about the power of platonic love. My previous three novels – Solitaire, Radio Silence, and I Was Born for This – had all explored this idea in a small way, but never as the main theme of the story. I wanted to craft a story that had the structure of a romance but was about a friendship.

3. Which character in the book is your favourite, and why?

How can I possibly choose one favourite! I’d have to say the central three girls: Georgia, Rooney, and Pip. They all have quite different insecurities centred around love and relationships, but it’s their relationships with each other that help them push through those insecurities and learn to love who they are. 

4. What does being on this year’s YA Book Prize shortlist mean to you?

So much! We have such a wonderful display of UKYA, and it’s a real honour to have been picked out from the incredible writing talent there is in the UK right now.

5. What's the best thing about writing for young adults?

I just love writing about all of the wild emotions and angst and complex, evolving relationships that come with being a teenager!

6. What was your favourite book as a teenager?

I was a big fan of The Catcher in the Rye. While I can recognise its flaws now, I’d never read a book that used voice in the way that Catcher does, and it inspired my writing style massively in my first book, Solitaire. But purely from an enjoyment perspective, my favourite book throughout my childhood and teenage years was Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. I love an anti-hero and a redemption arc, and the Artemis Fowl series was the perfect series for that!

7. What is your top writing tip?

Write the book you want to read! That’s a pretty common one, so, chances are you’ve heard it before. But I really mean it! If you’re not writing something you’re really hyped about, you’ll find it really hard to get motivated to sit down and write. So think about what sorts of books you love to read, and what sort of story you’d find really exciting to write, and go from there!

8. What songs would be on a playlist for your book?

I actually have a whole playlist, here. But my top songs from that are probably "Love of the Loveless" by Eels, "Bite the Hand" by boygenius, and "Love Yourself (1996 demo)" by Sufjan Stevens.

9. Who would you cast in a film version of your book?

I have no idea! I’ve always been terrible at this question. In an ideal world I’d probably just want completely unknown, age-accurate, British actors!

10. Which book, film or TV show would you recommend to someone who enjoyed your book?

Book – Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman or Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Film – "The Half of It"

TV Show – "Sex Education"

You can find out more about Loveless and Alice Oseman, and read the first chapter of the book for free, on the YA Book Prize website.​