Alicia Tuckerman tells us about her debut novel ‘If I Tell You’

Alicia Tuckerman’s debut novel If I Tell You has just been released by Pantera Press. The Young Adult book set in rural Australia has a two lesbians as the central characters.

Tuckerman chatted to Graeme Watson and shared her excitement about having finished her first novel.  

“I sometimes struggle to compose a text message so I’m pretty stoked with that.” she laughed,sharing that the journey to this milestone has been long one.

“I’ve been a writer all of my life,when I was a kid I always wrote stories and entered competitions and really enjoyed that aspect of it.” Tuckerman said.

“As a teenager I found great solace and comfort in writing and being able to get my feeling down on paper.”

The decision to write a novel began when Tuckerman was 24 year old. “It was eleven years ago when I began writing this book. When I was a teenager there were no contemporary young adult novels that had any sort of queer representation, unless it was very negative or just a token throwaway mention. I could have really used that as a teenager.”      

“I’m a kid of the nineties, but even in film my first experience of seeing queer culture was in films like The Crying Game and Boys Don’t Cry, these terribly kind of conflicting images.

“There was almost this sense that if there stories don’t exist, maybe there’s a reason people say that these feelings that I’m having are wrong. If nobody is even writing about these characters maybe I shouldn’t exist.” Tuckerman shared.

The author said her goal has always been to write a mainstream novel that had wide appeal, one that tackles love, and not knowing what to do with your life, alongside maintaining friendships and dealing with issues like drinking.

The books rural setting is fictional but Tuckerman said she drew a lot from the area in New South Wales where she grew up, and her home here in Perth.   

“I grew up on a farm with motorbikes, horses and that sort of connections with the land, but a lot the descriptions are also indicative of the area that I live in now which is the Perth hIlls. Those very unforgiving extremes of nature and landscape, I find very fascinating, and it’s a great climate to write about in an emotive way.” Tuckerman said.

Tuckerman’s managed to fit writing a novel around her career and family life by following a dedicated schedule for several years.

“My alarm goes off at 4am, and like this morning I got up and got in a couple of hours of writing. I bring my laptop and write on the bus on my commute into the city, I write on the train, then I write in my lunch break, then I write on my way home on the commute, and then sometimes I write a little more at night.”

Tuckerman said the frustrating part of the writing process is that sometimes the creative spark just isn’t firing.

“I had a whole day to write on Sunday and nothing was happening, my new characters just weren’t speaking to me, everything I wrote was just crap. Then the next day when I had only thirty minutes on the bus I’m working like lightning.”




If I Tell You is out now through Pantera Press.