The Alice Bible

I am a 30 year old creative writing student earning my MA in the UK, and I am also a huge Alice fan of 20 years.
I am currently writing an essay on authorship, and focusing on paratext (everything involved in the book that is not the narrative). I chose an example of current authorial practice to analyse- the Alice bible!
It has been enormous fun to both read and read about the Alice bible as part of my studies.
I wondered if you had any comment on how you think the Alice bible influences readers of the Alice books themselves? How powerful you think it is? Also, when did you decide to make it public (even as far back as when you were thinking of publishing it in print form?)
Authorship essay aside, I can certainly thank you for influencing me in my decision to become a writer. I have been reading and loving the Alice books since I was ten years old. I remember the surreal moment when I was ‘finally’ older than Alice. And then how surreal it was in Now I’ll Tell You Everything to watch her catch up to me now and then get older than me again! You’ve created such a unique experience for a generation of readers. I am so thankful for that.
I not only love the books, but I love your blog as well. You’re very wise and I think it’s wonderful young people (and those of us into adulthood) are able to not only learn and grow from the books but also from direct interactions with you as well. You have so much life experience and such a extensive library of written work, I truly do stand in awe.
Fifteen years ago I shared some lovely email correspondence with you about becoming a writer. I thought you’d be happy to know I took your advice and I’m still working towards my goals. The full length project I’m doing for university is a young adult novel and I can only dream of a career such as yours.
Phyllis replied:
I’m afraid that readers themselves would have to tell you how they use the Alice bible.  To be honest, we didn’t create it for them, we created it for the copy editor and me, both of us going crazy trying to remember everything that happened to Alice, and in which book, so as not to repeat something I’d already used.  It was only later that we thought readers might like to see it (to appreciate all our hard work!).  But because I also frequently received letters asking, “In what book did Liz talk about her sexual abuse?” and “when did Alice get her first period?” and “Who did Marilyn marry?”  we thought, why not publish the bible online so readers could find their favorite scenes themselves? So that’s what we did.  I’m delighted to know that you are working on a young adult novel, and wish you every success!

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