Interview with Richard J. Novic, M.D.,
Author of Alice in Genderland: A Crossdresser Comes of Age
Jon: Iím here today with Dr. Richard Novic, better known in our community as GIRL TALK magazine advice columnist, Alice Novic. Alice, I must admit that when I picked up your paperback, I was fascinated from the start. What brought you to write such a thing?
Alice Novic: Well, Jon, I really couldnít believe it when I discovered that there werenít any modern crossdressing memoirs. The only ones I found were one by an English journalist who wrote more about his career and conquests than his crossdressing and an old college professor who never set foot outside his house in womenís wear.
Jon: Whatís the gist of your story?
Alice: Basically, Alice in Genderland tracks me down the perilous path from lonely Ivy League jock with a shameful secret to happily married husband and father with a night a week as a woman, an open relationship, and a steady male admirer.
Jon: I noticed that you published with iUniverse. I would have thought a major publishing house would have been interested in a book as unique as yours. Did you give them a try?
Alice: I tested the waters a bit, but publishers these days seem motivated mostly by a bookís ability to make bucks. The handful of agents and editors I spoke to knew little of the transgender community and werenít sure how to market my book to the mainstream.
Jon: How did it feel to see your whole life story down on paper? Was it cathartic?
Alice: Yes, it was. I felt that as a crossdresser and a bisexual, I had come of age in a way that was fearful and fascinating, terrible yet in the end resoundingly triumphant. And all this had happened in silence. Only a few confidantes knew my story, and I was beginning to forget bits and pieces myself. Am I glad I got it all down in a form I can share? You bet I am!
Jon: One of the most remarkable things about your life is the open relationship you have with your wife. Without giving too much away, can you tell us how you arrived at this rather fortunate arrangement?
Alice: Back in í96, my girlfriend-and-now-wife had been allowing me a few girl nights on my own each month without causing too much trouble between us. So when I discovered how important my bisexuality was to me, I negotiated successfully for the right to express it on those nights. Iím ever thankful to her for that and committed to facilitating all the things she longs for in life.
Jon: Do you think your bisexuality would exist without your crossdressing? Or vice versa?
Alice: Like many pretty t-girls, I wouldnít be bisexual, if I werenít transgendered. In fact, Iím not sure how good a bisexual I really am, because, as Richard, I would never have sex with a man and, as Alice, Iíd prefer not to have sex with a woman. Itís not that I have anything against these things; itís just that they donít excite me. And as you can see from my book, I havenít been too shy to explore anything that intrigued me.
Jon: What do you hope your readers will learn from Alice in Genderland?
Alice: I hope my trans readers will learn from my struggles, revel in my adventures, and benefit from my special perspective as a psychiatrist-crossdresser so that we all can get on with the joy of being who we are rather than repeating all the angst and inhibition of the past. I hope my nontrans readers will appreciate getting to know a kind of person they may never get the chance to meet and come away with a fresh sense of what itís like to be so different you have to crack the mold.
Jon: As someone who has seriously been there, do you have any specific advice for those just starting to express their transgendered selves?
Alice: Do your best to pray it awayójust kidding. But really, because of the Internet and websites like URNA, people these days are learning about transgendered life while still in their 20s. Take advantage of this. Shine while youíre young and explore all the possibilities in life so you have a better sense of the kind of relationship youíd like to settle into.
Jon: What did you personally learn from the writing process?
Alice: At the outset, I thought I had a firm grasp on my life story. But in writing it up, I discovered places where my memories and thoughts grew fuzzy. In cutting through the fog, I gained a much better understanding of what part of me is female and what isnít, and how the important people in my life have been affected by my being bigendered.
Jon: Was your book difficult to write? How long did it take?
Alice: I plugged away at it on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for about four years, while continuing to work Monday through Thursday as a private practice psychiatrist. In one regard, writing Alice in Genderland was pure pleasure. It felt expressive, absorbing, and purposeful. In another, it was thoroughly daunting, because Iíd never even written a short story before, let alone something approaching a novel. I discovered that doing it well would be like building a house by myself. I was going to have to learn an awful lot about carpentry, electricity, and plumbing along the way.
Jon: Well, you seem genuinely articulate and skillful in getting your story across. Even your psychological insights are presented in ways that donít distract from your narrative.
Alice: Bless your heart. Can I get this all on tape to wake up to each morning?
Jon: You seem so at ease with the written word. Which were the parts you had to work at?
Alice: I hired an editor who works on a lot of books that get made into movies. She took a look at my rough draft and said, ďYouíve got an amazing story here, but itís really just one long diary. Go back and find the twenty most significant events and put me there in your shoes, moment by moment, impression by impression, line by line, and action by action.Ē I took herórather expensiveóadvice to heart and went back to the drawing board . . . for about a year!
Jon: What about your sex scenes? Theyíre so vivid. Does it bother you that the intimate details of your life are now out there for everyone to see and think of when they meet you?
Alice: Not especially. Maybe Iíve been in Los Angeles too long, but I can think of nothing more liberating than sitting back with a t-friend and sharing sexy secrets over seafood risotto and a glass of Chardonnay. Sex is a part of life, and a vital part of transgendered life. How can you leave it out?
Jon: Do you have any other writing projects presently in the works?
Alice: Iím keeping up my Go Ask Alice column, and you can see it at Go Ask Alice. But mostly now Iím just lying back, resting my writing hand, and enjoying the wonderful life and people Iíve spent so much time writing about.
Jon: Thanks Alice, for taking the time to tell us a bit about your book and about your life. Now for all of you who haven't yet read Alice in Genderland, I highly recommend it... once you pick it up, you'll have a hard time putting it down. It's a Must Read!
(Alice in Genderland is available now at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and other online bookstores.)
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