None of the Above was inspired by a seventeen year old girl I treated during residency. She had been diagnosed as intersex only recently, and I had helped with the surgery to remove her internal testes. When she came back for follow-up she was alone, and I never saw her again. For months after, I wondered what she had told her family, her friends. Did she have a boyfriend, and how did her diagnosis affect her relationship with him? Meeting her also made me think a lot about what it meant to be a woman, and the true meaning of love.
What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?
It's strange, but I think that the book that comes to mind is actually WONDER, by R.J. Palacio, which is a middle grade book. But I think it's similar to NONE OF THE ABOVE because it really gives readers a glimpse into the life of a person born with a condition that a lot of people are uncomfortable dealing with. Both books also have themes of bullying and self-acceptance.
How long did you work on NONE OF THE ABOVE?
I met the patient who inspired NONE OF THE ABOVE in 2009, and I spent a few years after that researching intersex. I think I made my first stab at writing some of the characters in 2011, but I didn't sit down and actually finish the book until 2012. Then, when I finished, I did a massive structural revision (changing from dual narrative to single). It finally went out on submission in 2013.
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
This book taught me that, though it's nice to write from the POV of different characters, sometimes the book really is a single character's story to tell.
What do you hope readers will take away from NONE OF THE ABOVE?
That there is no true definition of "normal." That the gender binary exists to mess with all of our minds. And that true love doesn't care what your chromosomes are.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I wrote one book before NONE OF THE ABOVE. I got an agent with it, but it never sold (though in retrospect, I'm glad that it didn't - NONE OF THE ABOVE is a much better debut!)
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
1. Read. Write. Read. Write. Repeat.
2. Discipline is key. You might have a lot going on in your life, but even an hour or two of writing a day will eventually add up to a novel if you stick with it!
3. Make writer friends and find beta readers whose criticism you value - they'll keep you sane through the long, roller-coaster publishing ride!
ABOUT THE BOOKNone of the Above by I. W. Gregorio
Balzer + Bray
A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex . . . and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.
What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?
When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.
But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned--something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts." Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?
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ABOUT THE AUTHORI. W. Gregorio is a practicing surgeon by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. After getting her MD, she did her residency at Stanford, where she met the intersex patient who inspired her debut novel, None of the Above (Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins). She is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books™ and serves as its VP of Development. A recovering ice hockey player, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.
Note from the formatter: This release sounds AWESOME. I haven't read this one yet, but it seems amazing. This interview was also interesting, thanks for the great writing advice!
Jocelyn, Martina, Jan, Shelly, Susan, Lisa, and Erin