Despite a wide-ranging and large body of work, author Sherman Alexie had never written about his mother before she died.

“She demanded to be written about, because I never really wrote about her in my fiction and poetry,” he said. “This is really the first extended look at my mother and my relationship with her and I think she called out to me for that.”

Alexie's new memoir is called You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, and he joined Boston Public Radio on Friday to talk about the woman who inspired it -- his mother.

“She was highly traditional, very religious, incredibly intelligent, industrious, mean, volatile, unpredictable, sometimes cruel, often cold, and I think an undiagnosed bipolar person and a grandiose fabulist,” he said. “I loved her, and I’m exactly like her.”

Alexie said he originally intended to write a book of poetry based on the hundreds of poems that he says “came to him” in the wake of his mother’s death. But, after he was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor and underwent surgery, he began to supplement the poetry with nonfiction.

“I guess you could say the nonfiction in this memoir is brain-damaged,” he joked.

Alexie, who has bipolar disorder, also talked about his belief that his mother suffered from the same disease and had gone undiagnosed.

“She was an indigenous woman ... the demographic most likely to be sexually assaulted, murdered, disappeared, and treated poorly by health services,” he said. “So if my mother would have been diagnosed with bipolarism or manic depression, as they would have called it back then ... she would have been institutionalized.”

Alexie said that his mother was a more inflammatory character than his father, an alcoholic who “never risked anything.”

“It’s easy to love somebody who lacks ambition,” he said. “It’s hard to love somebody who demands attention, and my mother demanded attention.”

Sherman Alexie is an author, poet, screenwriter and filmmaker. His latest book is a memoir entitled You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me. To hear his interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.