Meet the author and Psychologist Sophie Gonzales

Sophie Gonzales

Sophie Gonzales was born in South Australia and writes young adult queer contemporary fiction with memorable characters, biting wit, and endless heart.

Early beginnings and life began in Whyalla, South Australia, and from the age of 11, Sophie began writing fiction at school.

Sophie studied a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) at The University of Adelaide and graduated in 2014. She moved to Melbourne to undertake an internship for three years. In 2018, Sophie received full registration as a psychologist where she worked in occupational rehabilitation and in primary/high schools, with kids aged from 5-18.

Sophie has since returned to Adelaide where she now is fulfilling her dream of being a published author.

She is the author of The Law Of Inertia, acclaimed for addressing mental health issues including depression, anxiety and suicide; Only Mostly Devastated, a contemporary, queer re-imagining of the film GreasePerfect On Paper; If This Gets Out (co-written with Cale Dietrich); and Never Ever Getting Back Together.

Sophie’s story shows how a passion and excellence in writing sparked a career change and direction that has led to great personal success as a published author.

Tell us about your career journey after leaving university.

While I completed my honours year in psychology, I worked on a full-length novel and tried unsuccessfully to gain literary representation with it. Immediately after I finished honours, I took a gap year during 2015 with the intention of applying for my masters in clinical psychology towards the end of the year and used this time to write my next book and attempt to secure representation for it. In July, when I was 22, I was successful in securing representation by a literary agent based in the USA, and we started trying to sell my books to a publisher. When an opportunity came up to complete my 4+2 internship in Melbourne, I took it and moved to Melbourne September that year. In Melbourne, I commenced supervision by two clinical psychologists while I worked as a provisional psychologist within occupational rehabilitation, and then a primary school. Meanwhile, I wrote another book and sold it to an indie publisher in 2017 for publication in 2018, and then sold my second book to a large publisher, Macmillan, for publication in 2020. From 2018 through to the end of 2020, I worked as a psychologist at an all-boys high school — a job I adored — but as I sold more books, it became too difficult to work as a psychologist full time as well, so when I moved back to Adelaide at the end of 2020, I chose to become a full-time author. I still hold my psychology registration and would love to continue to work within the field in the near future but at the moment I’m registered as a non-practicing psychologist.

To date, I have sold six books, with five out on the shelves and the sixth to be released in 2024 and am in the process of hopefully selling my next two (but let’s touch wood!).

My bibliography includes:

  • The Law of Inertia (Amberjack Publishing, 2018)
  • Only Mostly Devastated (Wednesday Books, 2020)
  • Perfect on Paper (Wednesday Books, 2021)
  • If This Gets Out (Wednesday Books, 2021)
  • Never Ever Getting Back Together (Wednesday Books, 2022)
  • The Perfect Guy Doesn’t Exist (Wednesday Books, 2024)

My books have also been published in a number of countries and territories, in a variety of languages, including the UK / Commonwealth, France, Germany, Vietnam, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Poland, Hungary, Israel, Russia and Turkey.

What are your career highlights to date?

Selling my second book to Macmillan was a moment that was hard to beat! If I have a core career memory, that morning would be it. When I got the phone call from my agent, I screamed the bus down. There have been many wonderful moments since then, including: four Indie Next picks; several starred reviews from trade publications; making the shortlist for the Southern Book Prize in the USA; being shortlisted multiple times for the Goodreads Choice Awards; and making the shortlist for the prestigious Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in the UK! If This Gets Out was the sixth bestselling young adult hardcover in the US on its release week, which was such a huge achievement for me and my co-author for the book, Cale Dietrich. If This Gets Out also hit the bestseller charts in the UK, which was super exciting. Seeing my books in Australian stores, even at my local Big W, was also huge to me, because suddenly, my books are on the same shelves I’ve shopped from for years.

Can you share some of your most memorable experiences throughout your studies and/or career?

For me, the best part of my studies was getting to meet people who were interested in the same things I am! Hanging out on the lawns with philosophy notes and gathering in study rooms to work on assignments together before going to the David Jones food court for a late lunch and sharing vanilla fruche during lectures. All of those little moments with like-minded friends were what made my uni years really special for me.

There have been many memorable moments throughout my career. The first time I ever received a direct message from a stranger who said my book changed their life. Getting tagged in fan art and fan videos by readers who remember more about my characters than I do,  who engage with them as though they’re real people. Looking out into a crowd and recognising no one but having a connection with them through these stories. I became a writer because I wanted to write, and I became an author because I wanted to share my stories with others and that aspect of the career has been everything I ever hoped for.

What are the most rewarding/enjoyable aspects of your current role?

When I get a book idea — one that sort of appears from thin air and implants somewhere in the back of my brain — and suddenly all I can think about is those characters, and those scenes, on an endless loop until I write it down. When I’m so lost in a fictional world that ten hours feels like five minutes. When the plot holes work themselves out, and I suddenly make a connection that wasn’t clear to me before. All of those moments are where the magic happens with writing. It’s something I did for free for around a decade and a half before it became my career, because it’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever found in my time on earth.

What is your fondest University of Adelaide memory?

Easily, it was my philosophy classes! I never knew much about philosophy before uni, and thought it sounded like an interesting class to take and before I knew it, I was adding it to my timetable every semester because I just loved it. It’s the first time in my life that all the questions I’d had about the world throughout my life were brought to light. I loved learning how to argue from a perspective that wasn’t my own and how to come at an abstract idea through multiple angles. Some of my favourite memories from university are philosophy tutorials, where a group of students would go back and forth with our own thought experiments, trying to parse our way through a complex scenario we’d never found a solution to in our own time. I think if I were to ever take up a course purely for the love of learning it, it would be philosophy.

Have you been to campus since graduating? Have you remained connected with your classmates?

I walk past it often while in Adelaide but haven’t returned to campus since graduation. I would love to revisit it. As for my classmates, several of them remain close friends to this day and many others I’m connected to on social media. I love watching their accomplishments from afar and cheering them on in their chosen career paths — some in psychology, some in other exciting areas.

What advice do you have for your 20-year-old self?

Perfection is nice, but it isn’t mandatory. A well-rounded life involves hard work and it also involves looking after yourself, spending time with friends and making time for joy. It’s okay to say no if it’s a no inside your heart. Your life has inherent worth outside of the use you provide to other people and the people who you want surrounding you don’t want to see you burn out. The future is going to bring you so much joy, so learn from your mistakes, make amends for mistakes when you need to but don’t spend so much time dwelling on the small ones.

What’s next? Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 or 10 years?

I hope to continue publishing! I have a number of book ideas bubbling and I would love to see them on the shelves one day. I would also love the opportunity to return to working with children in a psychological setting as it was such a fulfilling job. On top of this, I would absolutely love to see one of my books made into a movie or TV show —there are some things happening behind the scenes that could come to fruition on that point. Time will tell!

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

A first draft doesn’t have to be good; it just has to exist. You can’t edit a blank page.

How would you like to remain connected with the University of Adelaide? 

I’m always happy to be a guest speaker! Any way I can assist young readers and writers.

Tagged in alumni profiles, alumni in focus, psychology