Melbourne-based Mary Rawson set out to write a story that included characters that identify as bisexual. The end result was ‘All of Us’. In anticipation of the book being launched launch, Bisexual Alliance Victoria asked Mary a few questions about the book.
Follow the link to read the Q & A…be warned this does contain some spoilers!
Q: What lead you to the decision to write a book that included characters who’re bisexual?
A: A combination of things I think. Firstly, I had a friend take me to Hares and Hyenas bookshop, and I was actually expecting to see a lot of fictional books about bisexual characters. There didn’t appear to be any! There were some books about bisexuality (nonfiction) but they were mostly American. I remember feeling a little horrified and concerned that bisexual fictional books weren’t around. I remember feeling pretty angry about it.
Secondly, being bisexual myself, and being someone who always enjoyed writing, motivated me to write the book, although initially I had just planned to write a short story. Once I wrote the short story (first chapter of the book), I didn’t want to stop. I kept wondering what was going to happen to this girl (Jenny), so I decided I wanted to find out, and kept writing!
Q: Some authors talk of including parts of their own lives, or the lives of people they know, in their stories. Did you draw upon the experiences you or other people you know when developing characters and things that happened in All of Us?
A: Yes, definitely! People I knew were my material. The first chapter is me age 13 years (true story), and the rest of the characters are a mix of everyone I have known in my life really. The polyamorous themes are taken from listening to some stories at Melbourne Bi Chat as well, though that said polyamory is only a small component of the Bi Chats. I changed the stories to protect privacy.
I chose to write about polyamory and bisexuality because it was a way to bring the bisexuality of the characters to life. The next challenge would be to write a book about bisexuals who are monogamous. Any takers??? It would be good to see one on the book shelves. It would be good to show that people who are bisexual are as diverse in their behaviours and attitudes as anyone else.
A lot of the initial emotional confusion of Jenny is taken from my own experiences but her actual story and relationships aren’t me.
Q: When you wrote it, did you have a publishing contract, or did that come after you’d started/finished writing?
A: No, that came after the book.
Q: How long did it take to write All of Us?
A: About nine months (the gestation of a baby!)
Q: Did you set out with a rough idea of how the story would unfold?
A: No, it was a bit weird really. As I said, the first story is about me, and then I just wanted to keep going, and find out what happened! The only rule I had was that I had to show everyone with their flaws and all. I had no idea what would happen. It just unfolded. Quite strange really.
Q: One of the major characters in All of Us dies which has a profound effect on at least one of the characters. Did you anticipate this character dying from the beginning of the book?
A: No I didn’t expect Witi to die, but something in my head said “Witi has to die’. (Poor Witi. I really liked him!) I think I realized there needed to be some psychological tension/crisis to make the book interesting, and I wanted to create an event that had an effect on all the characters, to bring them together. Otherwise they would have been too separate and it would have been like writing a book about unrelated characters.
Q: Also did you find it difficult to write about this and the subsequent related events?
A: Yes it was at times very sad. I felt genuinely sad and upset about what happened and the effect of Witi’s death on the characters. I even had a little cry at times! I drew on my own two losses in my life to write about the emotional reactions of the characters and that was difficult, but also surprisingly therapeutic.
It’s funny, but the characters became real to me when I wrote, and I genuinely felt their distress. I guess you have to do that to get in to different character’s heads. A little taxing at times, but I think I always knew, that they would come through the other end and be ok!
The launch date will be announced when available, so watch this space!