I knew when I wrote the first story about her, “Melvin in the Sixth Grade,” that there was so much more to say. Elsewhere, California is an attempt to fill in the gaps and explore questions of race, class, gender, and place. In the novel, I also wanted breadth beyond coming-of-age. I wanted to explore American identity as a whole. I also wanted to talk about California. I was born and raised there, and so many novels set in Southern California do not illustrate a California that is recognizable to me.
Part of what’s so vibrant in this book is the adolescent perspective on popular culture and how important rock stars are to a kid trying to negotiate her own identity. Seeing David Bowie on Soul Train, Avery couldn’t believe he was white. Did you have similar experiences while you were growing up?”
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