Heartstopper creator Alice Oseman on asexuality, Yasmin Finney and season two ‘surprises’

Heartstopper creator Alice Oseman on the latest addition to her universe, what fans can expect from the next season of the Netflix adaptation, and why authors have a duty to their queer readers.

At just 28, Alice Oseman is the creator of a hit young adult graphic novel series that’s sold more than 6 million copies worldwide, and of a Netflix show that’s fast become a phenomenon.

But it’s not success that drives her.

“Just being able to help someone in some small way on their journey [by representing them in her stories] is a really special thing as a creator and more than I ever could have hoped for,” she tells PinkNews.

“I’ve always believed that in young adult fiction, we should care about all young people, and as a creative, I’m always trying to be careful about treating my readers with respect and giving representation where I can.”

Kit Connor and Joe Locke in Heartstopper.

Kit Connor and Joe Locke in Heartstopper. (Netflix)

It’s that representation and respect for the young queer experience that’s made Heartstopper resonate with so many. A TV adaptation starring Joe Locke and Kit Connor, as central couple Charlie and Nick, was such a huge hit that Netflix has already commissioned a second and third season.

Production on the next batch of episodes is underway, and Oseman says they’ll include some brand-new material.

“If you’ve read volume three, you’ll know that are certain things coming,” she teases, with a knowing grin.

“I’m really excited for people to see our mental health storyline in Heartstopper. I think it’ll bring something quite different. I’m excited to see what people think.

“We will be following the story of the comics quite closely, but also expanding on and exploring other characters. Comic stuff is coming. But there’s also so many surprises in store. I can’t wait.”

Kizzy Edgell and Corinna Brown in Heartstopper.

Kizzy Edgell and Corinna Brown in Heartstopper. (Netflix)

Inclusion is at the heart of Heartstopper, and Oseman says that she always knew she wanted it “to feature a diverse range of queer characters, not just Nick and Charlie, because the series, as well as being a romance, is about queer friendships”.

Oseman is asexual, and said that improving ace representation is “really important” to her.

“When it comes to less understood queer identities, such as asexuality, it can be difficult for writers who aren’t those identities to tackle those stories, because they just might not really understand that experience,” she says.

“Hiring writers who share those identities is a good idea. But also not being afraid to give the limelight to those stories that don’t normally get the limelight. I think people often wouldn’t want to make the main character asexual because they might not have a romance storyline, necessarily. And people don’t know how to write stories that don’t have romance.”

The cast of the show have become break-out stars, in particular, young trans actor Yasmin Finney.

Actor Yasmin Finney appears as the character Elle Argent in Netflix's Heartstopper

Heartstopper’s Yasmin Finney. (Netflix)

Discussing Finney’s character, Elle, Oseman says: “I think it’s just really powerful for people to see a young trans girl in a story that’s not about trauma, or even doesn’t focus heavily on transition; her story is about finding friends and finding love, themes that so many teens have gone through,” she says.

“It’s really powerful and important to see young trans people just living their lives, like any other teens.”

As fans wait for season two, Oseman has just published The Heartstopper Yearbook, which offers an insight into her creative process – narrated by a cartoon version of herself, of course.

She describes it as “a cross between an annual and an art book”, packed with “Heartstopper art old and new, stuff about the making of the comics, lots of behind-the-scenes information. There’s interactive stuff like a quiz and a drawing guide. All kinds of fun stuff that fans of Heartstopper will love!”