M.A. Greene96: Hello there. My name is M.A.Greene a writer reaching for publication. I am revising a YA Sci-fi/Fantasy novel and write short stories and poems. You can follow my writing journey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MAGreene996 . I will be interviewing BrucoliLucia a teen writer, about her opinions on diversity in Young Adult stories and her journey as a writer and personal journey as well. So first how old are you and at what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?
BrucoliLucia: Hello, happy to be here! I’m fourteen years old and I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember: even when I couldn’t write yet, I’d tell my mom stories and she’d read them back to me! But I’ve been seriously writing for about two years now.
M.A.Greene96: That is so wonderful that you are fourteen and serious about your writing journey. What have you published and what are you working on?
BrucoliLucia: I am currently working on my first novel, a YA science fiction story. I have published three guest posts on other websites (you can find a list on http://www.luciabrucoli.com ) and have anonymously written 15 articles for a news platform over the past year.
M.A.Greene96: Having written 15 articles in one year is impressive at any age. What made you decide to publish articles?
BrucoliLucia: In the very beginning, I realized I needed a platform to make my name known in the writing community. I chose YouTube at first, where I’d record videos talking about my writing journey and giving advice. I wanted a voice in the writing community, but making videos didn’t work out. I talked to my parents, and after deleting my account I turned some of the scripts into articles. That’s where it all started! In a strange way, I’m glad that YouTube wasn’t successful: writing articles for other websites makes me feel happy with myself, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
M.A.Greene96: Well I am sure those who you wrote for are very happy about your decision as well. What are your favorite genres that you read?
BrucoliLucia: Thanks! I like YA best, even though I occasionally enjoy Adult classics. My favorite genres are contemporary and science fiction: the former because I can relate more to the characters, and the latter because of the scientific implications and technologies it includes.
M.A.Greene96: That makes sense. I love YA because there are so many messages and people discovering aspects about themselves and the world around them that shape them so fundamentally. I also enjoy science fiction for the reason you explained as well. One thing that very important in Young Adult literature is diversity. Because everyone is not the same race or other category as another other people. Can you explain your thought on diversity in YA?
BrucoliLucia: I think we definitely need more diversity, especially in YA where people go through changes and realize who they really are. Writing characters various colors, genders, orientations, mental/physical issues, body types or a combination of them all… it lets people see themselves in the books they read, which is really important. As the reader, it enriches the experience and lets us see ways of lives that we might not be familiar with. So not only does it give the people who are represented a voice, but it also builds empathy, awareness and sheds light on stereotypes. Of course, it must be *proper* representation where the author has researched/drawn from their own experiences/had sensitivity readers!
Yes, it does. I have always identified as female, and as I read (good rep!) and researched about how people can identify, I thought that including my preferred pronouns was a good step. As for being bisexual, it took a while. My immediate family members are Allies and so have exposed and explained the different gender and sexuality orientations to me. I was an ally for a long time before thinking of my own orientation. Then I realized I noticed girls as much as boys and started having romantic feelings for them. Too scared to admit my feelings even to myself, I went in denial and tried to ignore it all. It was strange because I knew everyone would be okay with it, but still felt insecure. So, I started watching queer YouTubers, read amazing rep that helped me find my stance, and eventually came out to the people closest to me: only to find out they’re perfectly okay with it, and I never had to worry!
M.A.Greene96: It sounds like you were very thoughtful and took time before realizing this. What are some ways you believe YA literature can use sensitivity and accurately portray different orientations especially those who identify as being bi since that is how you identify your orientation.
BrucoliLucia: Most of all, I think that any gender and sexual orientation rep should be handled with care, since in the world of today it still a sensitive topic, and also should be *accurate*! There are still the authors that write about orientations that they have no clue about, have done no research, haven’t read other books with that orientation and haven’t asked anyone of that orientation for their own experiences. There is nothing wrong with writing characters different from us, but I do think we should do appropriate research to make sure the representation isn’t problematic. The first thing I do when looking up a new book is to see if it is accurate rep and isn’t just based off of stereotypes 🙂
M.A.Greene96: Doing research about those that are in a minority group, the author does not fall into sounds like smart advice for any genre or age range of the readers.
BrucoliLucia: Yes it is, since a person’s circumstances shape their battles, and therefore their mindset as well.
M.A.Greene96: I know you did research and self-reflection to determine you where bi did you have any LBGT friends who helped give you advice or where an influence to help you come to that conclusion?
BrucoliLucia: I had the support of an LGBTQ+ teacher who was the first person I came out to. He helped me a lot, explaining what it all meant and perfectly phrased what I was feeling. My friends were also very supportive when I told them I was questioning my sexuality: they are all Allies, and helped me a lot throughout my journey.
M.A.Greene96: That is good you had an adult and your friends were a support system for you. Do you think having LGBT representation in books helps teens with coming to conclusions about their sexuality?
BrucoliLucia: Yes, definitely! Not only it helps us understand the terms/labels used, but it also helps us feel less alone. Not many people have a ‘human’ support system to help them navigate through the journey in realizing their sexuality, and reading books with good rep. and relating to the characters helps us- or at least me- a lot. Watching movies and reading books with LGBTQ+ characters is also a way for closeted teens to privately explore their sexuality if they feel like their environment isn’t open enough to give them the answers they need.
M.A.Greene96: What advice would you give teens who are privately exploring their sexuality vs those that have come out?
BrucoliLucia: To those privately exploring their sexuality: I feel you. I know how it’s like to be in the closet: you kind of want to come out and get it over with, but you feel safer hiding who you are, even though it can feel suffocating to do so. In the perfect world, we wouldn’t even need to come out, loving whoever we want without people saying “wait… You’re not straight?” as if that was the default. If you feel comfortable enough, I’d highly urge you to come out to someone whom you know will accept you. It helps so much to know that someone is there for you, willing to defend and protect and support you. I’d also highly recommend going online to look at terms and to read novels where characters have a variety of sexual orientations. For those already out to the world, I admire you so much for embracing who you are. Keep going and speaking out, because it raises awareness and one day we may live in a world where sexuality isn’t ‘taboo’. Always remember that you are not alone and that your sexuality is simply part of you: nobody can take that away.
M.A.Greene96: Are there any authors and books you would recommend that show diversity well?
BrucoliLucia: Simon versus the Homosapiens Agenda is great gay rep, and I hope that the sequel, Leah on the Offbeat, will have successful bisexual rep. Willful Machines also has amazing gay rep. Let’s Talk About Love has as MC a Black biromantic greysexual. I am not the first or the last, but I do feel that the biromantic feelings were represented well! A good way to find good LGBTQ+ rep is on the Lesbrary and on Twitter’s @LGBTQReads !
Simon versus the Homosapiens Agenda is great gay rep, and I hope that the sequel, Leah on the Offbeat, will have successful bisexual rep. Willful Machines also has amazing gay rep. Let’s Talk About Love has as MC a Black biromantic greysexual. I am not the first or the last, but I do feel that the biromantic feelings were represented well! The Lesbrary and Twitter’s @LGBTQReads are great places to find LGBTQ+ rep!
M.A.Greene96: Do you think there are any unique challenges or advantages with teens that realize they are bi compared to other orientations?
BrucoliLucia: Yes, definitely. Society tends to put people in boxes and categories, and that’s pretty much how the world works. Either people have to ‘fit in’ or they are ‘shunned’. Don’t get me wrong: being a non-heterosexual always has it’s challenges. But something unique we have to go through is people thinking were just confused, experimenting and that we have to choose one side: straight or gay. And unfortunately many experience this from within the LGBTQ+ community as well! Some also don’t understand that our orientation is the same regardless of the gender of our partner: in other words, we don’t switch from straight to gay depending on who we’re with.
M.A.Greene96: That that sounds frustrating. Defiantly struggles to keep in mind when writers write teen in that category. Being a teenager and dating can be hard enough, I know your only 14, but in your opinion do you think it is difficult if a bisexual teen is dating someone who is straight or gay to understand they would still be bi as you said no matter if they are dating them or not?
BrucoliLucia: For the teen, they’ll have a period of adjustment for sure, but the main worry would be if their partner accepts that they are bi. I am lucky that I found someone who not only accepts my orientation, but doesn’t really care what it is and loves me either way. It can be difficult to explain this orientation since it’s not always very straightforward, depending on where you fall on the bisexuality/pansexuality spectrum. The best advice I can give is simply to talk about it. If you are passionate and truly believe in what you’re saying, then the other person may be willing to understand.
M.A.Greene96: Back when I can’t remember what year it was, gay marriage became legal, even though I am not promoting teen marriages at all, do you think that affected LGBT teens?
BrucoliLucia: Yes, definitely. I think it made us feel validated and recognized, and it was the first step in raising awareness of non-heterosexual orientations. The legalization of gay marriage likely gave the necessary push to making people in not only gay relationships, but also any non-heterosexual relationships, come out. For me, it feels nice to know that I’ll be legal no matter if I marry a woman or a man someday.
M.A.Greene96: Do you remember where you were and how you felt when you learned gay marriage was legalized?
BrucoliLucia: To be honest, I had always assumed it was legal until the moment I heard that it was fully legalized in the US! I don’t live there, but the fact that one of the greatest international powers had legalized same-sex marriage made me really, really happy. I didn’t know I was bisexual at the time, but my parents and I, being strong Allies, celebrated it. I hope that more countries will legalize same-sex marriage and prevent LGBTQ+ discrimination around the world 🙂
M.A.Greene96: So as far as any other minority groups such as race or disability are there any recommendations you could give?
BrucoliLucia: A Raisin in the Sun (a play), Sugar, Everything Everything, The Sun is also a Star and Mission Mumbai for non-white race reps, all of them touching on culture as well. Unfortunately I don’t have many disability recs: there’s Bionic where the MC loses parts of her body because of a car crash, and The Fault in Our Stars where the MC is terminal with cancer, both great.
M.A.Greene96: Those sound like interesting books. Speaking of books, can you tell us, spoiler free, a bit about your novel your working on?
BrucoliLucia: Sure! It is a YA science fiction story, with POC, anxiety and LGBTQ+ rep. I am currently revising it… Here’s the blurb! A decade after World War Three, drones start to attack humans again, especially in Hermingheart, England. Anne’s friend Roy is taken. Anne wants to find Roy. Roy wants to escape. Iris wants to save her people. They’ll each have to give up something: or they’ll all be destroyed.
M.A.Greene96: Thanks for providing that blurb for us. Have you finished writing your manuscript’s first draft are you revising it? What stage are you at?
BrucoliLucia: I have finished drafting, yes, and now I’m going through 10 revision stages I set for myself. I worked on ‘big picture’ revisions for the first two rounds focusing on plot, characters, settings etc before working my way into details such as subplots. I am now on R8, working on small edits. Being the hyper-organized schedule fanatic that I am, I further divided it in different sub-stages. I am now at the last sub-stage, where I go through the manuscript and focus on tiny edits looking at things such as grammar, word choice and sentence structure etc. I’m really excited: I’ll give it to my Mom to edit it after this, and then it’ll be time to recruit beta readers!
M.A.Greene96: Wow that is a very dedicated revising process. How did you come up with it?
BrucoliLucia: I watched many YouTube videos beforehand, and decided I could try and break “revise this novel” into smaller, manageable parts. It started off as a five-round plan where I had deleting placeholders, revising characters, setting, subplots and then line edits. I changed it over and over again as I discovered deeply-rooted plot holes, deleted and added characters, and after almost a year of revising it became a ten-round plan. It helps me a lot to do this, because the satisfaction of giving myself a ‘check’ was motivation to keep going to experience that feeling again.
M.A.Greene96: You definatly take your craft seriously. How do you manage to juggle the demands of school work/ a social life/ and your writing?
BrucoliLucia: It is really hard: school takes up most of my time since I’m there all day, and then I have extra-curricular activities and/or homework. Even though I love writing, I put school first because there isn’t a deadline for my book, whereas there is for school. As for social life? I don’t have much if it! Of course I like going out in weekends sometimes, but I am introverted and gain my energy by staying at home rather than in social situations. I can pretty much only write in my free time, which unfortunately isn’t a lot, but I make do. I try my best not to procrastinate too much and stay organized by making lists: I’ve got one for deadlines, one for goals, daily lists of things I want to finish when I get home from school, and put reminders on my calendar to keep track of it all. In times where life is hectic such as this month, I even make another separate schedule that is the first thing I see when I walk into my room to make sure I don’t procrastinate. Granted it’s a lot sometimes, but the joy I have from finishing a task, writing a chapter or spending some time with a friend is worth it.
M.A.Greene96: You are a very organized young lady. I am sure that will help you when you go to college and work as well. What advice would you give aspiring teen writers?
BrucoliLucia: Thanks you! The main advice I’d give teen writers would be to find your people. We experience a lot of criticism and incredulity at our projects, with people saying we’re too young or aren’t capable of achieving our dreams, solely because of our age. Don’t listen to them. Instead, find the people who will support you both when you’re on a roll and living your dream, and when you just want to give up and chuck your laptop out your window. Twitter has helped me so, so much: I’ve learnt a lot about writing and that we all go through the same things. It’s okay not be okay. I wrote a full post on writing advice for teen writers for YA writer Kim Chance.
M.A.Greene96: Thank you so much for this insightful interview. I will always have a special place in my heart for teen writers. I had many writing attempts as a teenager and wrote about characters from my manuscript I am revising now, Overshadowed by The Majestic Color, a YA sci-fi/ fantasy story. I dove into learning from writer’s digest magazines and articles online. One piece of advice I would like to pass onto teen writer’s whether you have published or not. Is to always believe in your stories and stick to the ones that majestically haunt you. Those ones that won’t go away, that’s where your passion will be. And as Kim Chance, the author of the young adult fantasy Keeper often says “Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do.”
BrucoliLucia: That is beautiful!