TalkingTaiwan Podcast [ep 87] This is My Brain in Love: A Conversation with Author I.W. Gregorio

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July is Black, Indigenous, People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month, so I thought this would be good time to invite Dr. Ilene Wong, who writes as I.W. Gregorio on to Talking Taiwan to talk about her latest novel, This is My Brain in Love. Dr. Wong has described the novel as a happy book about mental illness across cultures. We spoke about how she balances her medical and writing careers and her first book, None of the Above .

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • Why she writes under the pen name “I.W. Gregorio”
  • How she went from being a doctor to a YA author and which came first
  • How she balances her career in medicine with her writing
  • How her medical career informs her writing
  • How much of her novel draws from her personal life
  • Her thoughts on the model minority myth and stereotypes
  • What she thinks of the media’s focus on suicide as the endpoint of depression
  • YA books and movies that romanticized death by suicide
  • The difference between being down in the dumps and clinically depressed
  • How difficult was it for Ilene to come out about her mental health issues
  • Why she felt compelled to write this book now
  • How her family dealt with her depression
  • The paradoxical views that some doctors have about medicating for mental health issues
  • How we might de-stigmatize mental health
  • The difference between passive and active suicide ideation
  • Her writing process and the importance of having critique partners
  • The feedback that she’s received on the book
  • Her first book None of the Above
  • What the term “intersex” means
  • Why she writes for YA audiences
  • Her advice for aspiring authors
  • Ilene’s connection to Taiwan

Related Links:

Order your Copy HERE: This is My Brain in Love

Ilene’s website:

I.W. Gregorio on social media:


Instagram: I.W. Gregorio (@iwgregorio) • Instagram photos and videos


Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month:

Suicide hotlines:

Crisis Text Line (Text HOME to741741 from anywhere in the USA, at any time)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)

The Trevor Project (1-866-488-7386)

For suicide hotlines by country: International Association for Suicide Prevention Find A Helpline | Free, confidential support. 24/7. Chat, text or phone.

Mental Health Resources:

Mental Health America

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (1-800-662-4358

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America