Wibke Brueggemann

Wibke Brueggemann

Biography

Wibke Brueggemann grew up in northern Germany and the United States, but London is now her home.

She originally studied acting at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, and then decided to become a writer.

Wibke has a Master's in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University, where she won the Bath Spa University Writing Award. Love is for Losers is her first novel with Macmillan Children's Books.

You can follow Wibke on twitter and Instagram @WibkeBrueggeman

 

Interview

JANUARY 2021

Laugh-out funny and with much to say about friendship, families and first love, LOVE IS FOR LOSERS is WIBKE BRUEGGEMAN's debut YA novel, but expect to hear much more from her.

In LOVE IS FOR LOSERS (for ages 14+), Phoebe decides never to fall in love because she has seen what it has done to her best friend. Author WIBKE BRUEGGEMANN tells us more:


1. You trained as an actress - why did you decide to become a writer and has your original career helped you to write?

I think at the bottom of all of that lies my love for words, language and storytelling. Unfortunately, as an actor you're always somewhat limited in what you get to do. Your age, your sex, your looks, your accent, your ability to sing or not, and a million other things determine whether or not you'll be chosen to tell that story.

As a writer, however, you get to write a variety of characters and live vicariously through each and every one of them. It's a real privilege. I mean, if they made a play/ tv series of Love is for Losers I'd never be cast in it (okay, maybe I could be the German immigrant version of Pat one day), but because I wrote it, I got to be every single character in the story. It's brilliant.


2. You grew up in Germany and the US, what language do you choose to write in and why?

The truth is, I really struggle to express myself in German. I know it's my mother tongue, but something about it has always felt a bit foreign. I wonder if you can be born into the wrong language, because I think that's what may have happened to me...

I started learning English when I was ten, and as soon as I could string sentences together, I started writing in English. I always kept a diary, and I remember being very pleased knowing that my mother would no longer be able to read it should she attempt to spy on me (which she definitely did).


3. Did you start by reading some YA novels? Did any stand out for you?

I didn't grow up in house with books. My parents didn't read, and I was never encouraged to take it up. I never even went to a library until I was an adult.

I didn't start reading for pleasure until I was a teenager, and that was only thanks to my love for Star Trek. I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation a hundred times over, but I still craved those characters and their adventures, and so I started reading the novels that accompanied the series.

I didn't read YA until I was ancient. Also, YA wasn't a genre until I was ancient, but the YA book that really stood and stands out for me, and one I still read again and again, is Sherman Alexie's 'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian'. It's perfection.


4. What is Love is for Losers about in one sentence?

Love is for Losers is about a girl called Phoebe who doesn't want to ever fall in love because love makes you stupid, but then meets Emma and falls stupidly in love.


5. Why did you want to write this particular book, about a girl who refuses to fall in love?

I never wanted Phoebe to not want to fall in love. I really wanted her to fall in love. I worked REALLY hard for her to fall in love. I don't know why the not falling in love thing was her thing.

I just wanted to write Phoebe, because she's funny and intelligent, and has so much to give. Also, she always complains that nobody ever listens to her, so I wanted to make everyone listen to her.


6. Why did you decide to write Phoebe's story in the first person and as a diary? How did her voice develop?

 I was playing around with the format for ages, and I have to say the moment I decided it would be a diary, Phoebe just became a real person with real opinions and a real voice. If you've ever kept a diary you may know that it's a sanctuary for the absolute truth. You write things you'd never say, you sometimes even write things you may not even be willing to admit to yourself, and there's a raw honesty there. I think the diary format is a phenomenal story telling device when you're interested in delivering a character through her voice.


7. Phoebe has to learn a lot about friendship, empathy and self-awareness. What's your favourite moment in her story?

I have so many, it's impossible to choose. I do love when she has a go at the expression 'to fall in love' and says it sounds like you fall into a ditch or something, and maybe people just need to look where they're going. I mean, she's not wrong!



8. And the funniest?

I love it when she says that, in her opinion, Romeo and Juliet is a shit story well written, which disproves the theory that you can't polish a turd.


9. There are some fabulous supporting characters. Who is your favourite?

My mother has no problem telling everyone that she prefers my brother to me, but I would never do such a thing. Kate.


10. Phoebe attempts to find a part time job, with initially unhappy results. What was your worst teen job?

 I once worked in a big industrial kitchen in an amusement park where I had to scoop leftover food and rubbish from trays into the correct bins. You tended to get condiment-leakage all over you in the process, and the smell of ketchup and mayonnaise still makes me want to vom.


11. Will you be revisiting Phoebe's story? What are you writing currently?

Yes, I'm working on a sequel and I wish I could tell you the working title because you'd LOVE it. But I can't.


12. When and where do you prefer to write?

Well, I live in a shared house, so I can only write in my room. As to time of day, I prefer to get up early, drink copious amounts of coffee and write. I'm not a night-time writer.


13. What do you do when you get stuck?

When I get stuck, I get really, really, really annoyed, and I often spend hours trying to work through it, typing continuous nonsense, and shouting: "It's not rocket science!" Eventually, I'll go for a long walk.


14.  Can you recommend any other films or books to our YA readers that have got you chuckling?

 I've already mentioned 'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian', and if you haven't read it, you really must.

I'm also a big fan of Canadian writer Susin Nielsen. She's clever and funny and writes excellent dialogue. I loved 'Optimists Die First'.


Thank you for joining ReadingZone!

Wibke Brueggemann's Love is for Losers (Macmillan Children's Books) is out now.

Author's Titles