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Buzz around new novel about an intersex teenager

Buzz around new novel about an intersex teenager

Actress-writer-waitress Abigail Tarttelin received a £100,000 ($150,600, €117,000) advance for her novel Golden Boy, published this week. So she gave-up the waitressing.

‘I’m hoping it’s because it’s a really good book,’ said Tarttelin in an interview with London’s Evening Standard. ‘The subject matter is fairly original.’

The ‘fairly original’ subject matter is an intersex main character, 16-year-old Max Walker. 

‘When it came to writing Golden Boy, I realized that many depictions of LGBTQIA individuals in contemporary culture show them living on the periphery of society,’ said Tarttelin, 25, in a blog post.

‘I questioned why this was, as intersex and trans individuals can be born to anyone, anywhere, and the matter of gender impacts on most people’s lives at some point or another. 

‘It became very important to me that Max live within an ‘average’ family and community, so that Golden Boy had the best chance of reaching, and speaking to, Mums, Dads and adolescents everywhere.’

Golden Boy tells the story of seemingly immaculate family the Walkers. The mother is a successful lawyer, the father is running for election to parliament. Their son Max is the golden boy at school – good-looking, smart and sporty. But when Hunter, Max’s childhood friend, re-appears and subjects Max to a shocking rape, long-kept secrets come out.

Tarttelin said in the Evening Standard interview that the rape was ‘horrible to write’ but thought it was important to include it.

‘In order to combat rape culture you need to go there and explain what it’s like and why that person feels so violated,’ she said.

‘Max being intersex, having grown up as a boy, shows how women feel in that situation. You don’t see yourself as someone who could be sexually intimidated. When it happens you are really shocked.’

Tarttelin has a boyfriend but said that she would prefer not to define her own sexuality. And if she has children she wants to bring them up ‘in a pressure-less way in terms of gender’.

‘I definitely think that there are fewer differences between the two binary genders than there are within them,’ she said. ‘You receive these chromosomes at birth and they dictate how you are treated your entire life and your experience of the world.’