:: Interview with Alyssa Brugman
By Dominique McCafferty, Librarian
Alyssa Brugman is an Australian young adult writer whose novels Finding Grace, Walking Naked, and Being Bindy have had success around the world, and have been shortlisted for numerous awards — both in Australia and overseas. She has also recently released a series of "pony books" with Random House Australia: For Sale and Swap, Beginner's Luck, and Hot Potato. Her forthcoming novel, Solo, is scheduled for release in 2007. She lives in the gorgeous Hunter Valley — Australia's oldest wine-producing region — where she writes full time.
DM: Walking Naked brought back all those awful junior high memories—the heartlessness and certainly the beauty, but mostly the heartlessness of that time. I imagine you had some difficulty yourself—nearly everyone does.
AB: Actually, I loved school! I have certificates for 100% attendance.
DM: Really? So you are one of the exceptions!
AB: I had chicken pox once in Primary School, but other than that I went everyday. Besides, if you stayed home you missed what happened—not just academically, but in the playground—who loved whom, which allegiances had switched, abrupt shifts in territory. What was happening at home? Nothing! My parents were at work. I could sit around by myself, or I could go to school were all these social dynamics were happening. No contest.
DM: Maybe you were bearing witness in your own way...
AB: Oh, I wasn't just witnessing. I was an active participant, believe me! I went to five different schools and what I saw were just versions of the same thing. Lots of young people ask me if I do research on what it's like going to school, which makes me laugh—as though I dropped onto the planet at age twenty-five!
While I think the culture has changed significantly, I don't think the species has evolved so much since I went to school...
Conducted via e-mail in late September 2006. The complete interview will be made available in a forthcoming issue of YALSA.