Wednesday, 12 June 2019

AUTHOR INTERVIEW & SECOND CHANCE TO SEE MY REVIEW - WE ARE NOT OK BY N. D. GOMES

AUTHOR INTERVIEW
What or Who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
I loved creative writing as a child, and went to theatre school in New York after Uni to learn more about scriptwriting but it wasn’t until I took a university writing class in 2011 that I really started writing seriously. I finished my first ever novel shortly after that, and eventually got a literary agent and signed a contract with HQ/HarperCollins in 2015. ‘Dear Charlie’ was published in 2016 followed by ‘Blackbird’ in 2017. I love creating characters.

How do you come up with the title for your book? Who designed the Cover of your book? Did you have a lot of input into the process?
The cover design and title were group decisions made by myself, my agent and the wonderful team at HQ/HarperCollins in London.

Did you basic plot/plan for We Are Not Okay? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?  
I usually don’t plan out my stories, I prefer to write freely for the first draft and see what comes naturally. After that, I map out each character so their stories have a flow and an emotional resolution at the end.

How long did it take you to write We Are Not Okay? 
Typically, it takes me around 3-4 months to write the first draft. Editing is what takes the most time.

Who is your favourite character from We Are Not Okay and why?
My favourite character to write was probably Lucy because there are so many different sides to her, and she really goes through some big changes throughout the story.

Are the four main character girls based on people you know?
Most of the characters in my books are a combination of myself and people I know.

What can we expect from you next and in the future?
I am currently completing a fourth YA novel with a 2020 publication date, and I’m really excited about it!

Where can your readers follow you?
I can be followed on Instagram @ndgomes and on Twitter @nd_gomes
I love connecting with readers and fellow writers so please do follow me! :)

I have seen that the following has been said to describe We Are Not Okay, "We Are Not Ok, is 13 Reasons Why meets John Green and Jennifer Niven in We Are Not Ok - a powerful novel about what happens when girls are silenced."

Title: We Are Not Okay
Author: N.D. Gomes
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publisher: HQ Young Adult
Release Date: 2nd May 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
If only they could have spoken out.

Lucy thinks she’s better than the other girls.
Maybe if she’s pointing fingers at everyone else, no one will see the secret she’s hiding.

Ulana comes from a conservative Muslim family where reputation is everything. One rumour -
true or false – can destroy futures.

Trina likes to party. She’s kissed a lot of boys. She’s even shown her red bra to one. But she didn’t consent to that
night at Lucy’s party. So why doesn’t anyone believe
her?

Sophia loved her boyfriend. She did anything for him, even send him photos of herself. So why is she the one being pointed at in the hallways, laughed at, spat at when it was him who betrayed her trust?


PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon UK

REVIEW
I never used to read much from the contemporary genre whether it be YA or Adult but for some reason this book caught my eye, I read the blurb and felt I really wanted to read it.



I find the cover rather simplistic yet striking. I love the colours on the cover and the large X makes you want to know what is being said is "no or banned". So I guess it tugs on your curiosity/nosey gene lol. At the very beginning of the book is a playlist of songs, I’ll be totally honest I haven’t heard of most of the artists, so can’t say I know any of the songs, perhaps they will be more relevant to the YA market this book is aimed at. I think the byline hints at whats to come in the book very well, "Four Girls, Four Voices, All Unheard". It is the perfect byline! I love a great byline.

The book is focused on four girls, Sophia Greer, Lucy McNeil, Ulana Alami and Trina Davis all seemingly similar and attending the same school. Yet looking at each different girl you learn all the individual secrets they have to keep....

It is a difficult book to describe and talk about without revealing too much of the plot, but I will try my best and share a little bit about each girl.
Sophia has a steady boyfriend, Steve, and is happy in their relationship but Steve wants to push things further than just kissing and touching under shirt. Sophia is managing to come up with excuses not to go any further but worries Steve will get fed up of her saying no and look elsewhere for the kind of relationship he wants. Then she wonders is she is saying no and isn’t ready, is it that Steve isn’t “the one” for her and does she just need to pluck up the courage and “do it”? To be fair Steve doesn’t push Sophia, yet at the same time wants to know if she will be saying “yes” soon or not? Sophia thinks about what she would call her own “short comings” in comparison to other girls at Birchwood High School. Sophia isn’t as fun and social as Trina, or as confident, pretty or popular as Lucy.
Lucy McNeill may appear confident but she feels different, she thinks everything seems different this year. Her dad has once again left the family home, he has another woman, in fact his girlfriend is pregnant! Lucy compares her father’s girlfriend Amber, to someone who she reminds her of from school. To Lucy people like Amber and Trina are the same, in her opinion they are sluts who steal others boyfriends/husbands. These “sluts” also wear short skirts and wear far too much make-up too. Even though Lucy thinks this way she cannot seem to be able to finish her relationship with Steve and ends up buying some lacy underwear and posing in it, then sending photos to Steve. At this stage I was "woah! alarm bells!" and "Oh you silly girl"
Trina Davis hasn’t got a very good reputation at school and Lucy blames her for “stealing” her boyfriend Rhys. Trina has been seeing Rhys during the school holidays and hopes their relationship continues, she doesn’t see what Rhys ever saw in his ex-girlfriend. Trina hates that everyone sees her as the bad person, they think she stole Rhys! Trina and Lucy used to be kind of friends, well they used to have quite a few classes together. Trina cannot understand why Lucy should have any ill feeling towards her, its not like she stole Rhys. As far as Trina knows Rhys and Lucy had finished their relationship before Rhys went out with her!
Ulana is a Muslim girl whose family is strict and all she wishes is to have some of the freedom the other girls seem to have. Ulana has a secret boyfriend, Aiden. They try to have “proper dates” but have to be extra careful not to be seen. Ulana explains to Aiden that her family would not approve purely because he is not a “good muslim boy”, they are “not the same”, they “should not mix” Then Ulana meets Aiden’s family and it seems that her family isn’t the other one with prejudices about who their child should and shouldn’t date.

The overwhelming feeling you get from each girl is that they are not happy, they want more than they have. It seems all of the girls are wanting to be like one of the others as well as more than they currently are. Which I guess lots of teenagers, in fact, most teenagers go through this kind of thing. The writing is very true to life and different parts of the story are told by the individual girls that section is about. There were times I wanted to shout at the different girls or shake them by the shoulders, but then I am well past being a teenager myself. I readily admit to feeling the pressure of wanting to fit in. Envying the popular pretty girls and wanting the fit boys to notice you too, rather than treating you like "one of the boys" or "one of the gang".

I really loved one of the entries in Trina’s diary about why is it when you don’t want to see someone, all you do is see them everywhere you go lol. Whereas Ulana is having the opposite experience of when you really need to see someone you can never find them. Thing like this made the book relatable to me and I am sure it will have a similar effect with teenagers reading the book. 

Obviously where there’s girls there’s usually boys and we have some strong male characters within this book such as Rhys and Steve who are also making their own way through puberty etc.

There is a kind of "the moral of this story is..." aspect to this book when the girls at the end of the book come to a realisation that things could have been so different much sooner, if only they had spoken to each other.

I found the book to be an enjoyable read, though at times it became a little bit confusing trying to keep things straight in my head as I went along. Things such as which girl was with which boy and then keeping track of which girl had what secret.

Also at the end of this book is a link to join in the 
Wear Blue campaign in November 2019. 
The link is: http://www.bullying.co.uk/








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