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Photo: Alice Oseman
With her first young adult novel ‘Solitaire’ being published when Alice Oseman was just nineteen years old, the author has certainly built quite the career for herself. Now claiming the titles of author, illustrator, screenwriter, and executive producer, they have expanded on their passion for literature and art. As of 2022, her most notable creation carries the title of ‘Heartstopper’ – both a series of graphic novels with occasional novellas and now a Netflix original series.
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Oseman was born on October 16th, 1994, in Kent, England. She attended Rochester Grammar School as her early education and later went on to earn a bachelor of arts in English literature from Durham University in 2016.
In 2017, Oseman’s debut novel ‘Solitaire’ was published. The story follows Tori Spring, a teenage girl who couldn’t care less about…well, everything. That is until she meets optimistic and outgoing Michael Holden. Throughout the book, she tackles the mystery of a student blog titled ‘Solitaire’. The novel also introduced Tori’s brother, Charlie, who is explored further in the ‘Heartstopper’ series.
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Oseman’s second novel carries the piercing title of ‘Radio Silence’. The story follows Frances Janvier – an overachiever whose life revolves around her admission to Cambridge. She meets Aled Last, the creator of her favorite podcast. Alice has spoken publicly about relating to the academic pressure that Frances feels. Additionally, they have spoken to the high volumes of diversity within the novel when it comes to orientation, gender identity, and ethnicity. Primarily saying that they wish they’d made diversity a priority earlier on when they wrote Solitaire. ‘Radio Silence’ won the 2017 Silver Inky Award for young adult literature.
Their third novel is titled ‘I Was Born For This’ and follows the stories of Fereshteh Rahimi and Jimmy Kaga-Ricci. According to readers, this novel centers around fanbase culture and how fans have a tendency to lose themselves in the media or other content that they are passionate about.
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As of June 2022, their most recent full novel is titled ‘Loveless’ and is based on their personal experience at university. The novel has been praised for providing a rare representation of the asexual and aromantic communities.
Two novellas were published in 2015, following the stories of Charlie Spring and Nick Nelson from the ‘Heartstopper’ graphic novels. In July, Oseman published ‘Nick and Charlie’ which detailed a rather heartbreaking fight between the two “soulmates”. In November, Oseman published ‘This Winter’ which mostly dealt with Charlie’s eating disorder and how his mental health impacted the family dynamics in the Spring household.
While the ‘Heartstopper’ graphic novels began their official publishing journey in 2018, Alice had been publishing the comics to online platforms called WebToon and Tumblr long before that. New volumes continued to go to print until 2021, at which point Alice continued posting new chapters to WebToon in order to gather upcoming books before going on hiatus somewhat recently due to burnout.
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Coming in the fall of 2022, the ‘Heartstopper Yearbook’ has begun printing. This book will provide detailed character profiles as well as ‘Heartstopper’ insights.
While promoting ‘Loveless’, Oseman opened up regarding her asexual and aromatic identities. She also utilizes she/her and they/them pronouns. She has been open regarding her struggles with mental health and burnout related to overworking herself.
Alice Oseman – Impact
A large portion of Alice Oseman’s success can be attributed to the fact that their novels are very relatable to young adult audiences. Especially the audiences that are not used to seeing themselves represented in popular media. As with ‘Loveless’ and portraying aromatic and asexual characters, so with ‘Heartstopper’ and portraying a transgender person of color. Oseman’s writing is beyond essential due to the volumes of rare representation that it brings.
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Thanks to them, many teens and young adults who feel excluded from exciting narratives may see themselves represented within stories that carry so much more substance than “this book is about gay people”. Instead, the characters in Oseman’s books simply happen to have a certain identity. The whole narrative isn’t focused on their identity. It just plays a part. This is simply remarkable for LGBTQ+ literature which has a tendency to focus on the trauma that comes along with being queer or on the dissection of different identities.
Additionally, the ‘Heartstopper’ series portrays a very rare case of queer joy. Generally speaking, most LGBTQ+ media seeks to exploit the negativity that may arise along with a queer identity. However, Oseman did the polar opposite. She showed audiences the sheer joy and power that comes with discovering your identity and living proudly within it.
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It wouldn’t be fair to ignore Alice Oseman’s contribution to the LGBTQ+ community. They have truly made a change within the sphere of queer literature, and it can only be hoped that other authors follow their lead. It is true that you should become the change you want to see. Alice Oseman has done just that. By bringing representation to more niche communities and constructing deeply impactful narratives, they are making queer history.
By Micha Jones
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Micha Jones is a writer and aspiring television producer who is dedicated to education and equity. Writing review and feature articles for The Hollywood Insider, they focus on the ways in which media can tell marginalized stories. Through reflecting on the portrayal of social and environmental issues in TV and film, Micha aims to make positive changes in the entertainment industry. Micha’s work often carries The Hollywood Insider’s signature “mic-drop” perspectives and makes an effort to tell educational and socially progressive stories. They strongly believe in accurate representation in film and emphasize the power of the community.