Are you gay?
Man, I’ve been asked this one a lot. And every time I get asked I consider it an honour. Seriously. But unfortunately, no, I’m straight.
Then why did you write a book about an orthodox teenager trying to terms with his homosexuality?
It was also something I felt needed to be written about. There was a lot of misunderstandings about homosexuality when I was in school. They were considered the ‘other’. The talk that circled around the issue seemed to dehumanize homosexuals, by saying that ‘they’ think that they’re gay, but they’re not really and yada yada…we’ve all heard this stuff before.
But through researching the novel, I found that my religious friends were far more open minded than I’d given them credit for. We’d all matured a lot since school. It was me who’d made assumptions about them. So, the experience was a wonderful way for me to re-engage with Judaism in a way I’d never been able to before.
Do you think you have the right to write about a homosexual character seeing that you’re straight?
I don’t know. Do you?
Is this an anti-religious novel?
No, not at all. I love religion. The whole point of the book is that Yossi, the main character, sees his religious devotion to be as little a choice as his homosexuality. If the main character didn’t love religion, there wouldn’t be much of an internal conflict.
When did you start writing?
When I was eight years old. I wrote a poem about war. My mum put it in the scrapbook.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your teenage self?
Thanks for writing so much. But, you know, go out and play a game of footy or something.