I’m really pleased to share my interview with author Adi Alsaid, whose debut novel, Let’s Get Lost, received quite a bit of attention last year. School Library Journal had this to say about Let’s Get Lost: “Reminiscent of John Green’s Paper Towns (Dutton, 2008) and road trip novels that feature a teen paving the way to adulthood, Alsaid’s debut is a gem among contemporary YA novels.”
Alsaid’s second novel, Never Always Sometimes, is set to release on August 4th, and it’s already promising to be another gem: it’s received a starred review from Kirkus! I’m so thrilled that Alsaid took some time out of his schedule to answer some questions for you BiblioSmiles readers!
Q: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your second novel, Never Always Sometimes! What can readers expect from this new book? Let’s make it interesting – give us a Twitter-worthy answer! 140 characters or less.
Thank you! I’m so excited for the upcoming months leading up to the release, and of course the months after.
Readers can expect Dave and Julia to stumble. To feel their way out into the mostly unknown world and to either laugh, or to bang their shins painfully into furniture.
Thanks! I think fans of LGL will enjoy the character-driven aspects of the book, as well as the mix of humor, adventure, romance, and the occasional emotional moment. It’s a different kind of story, though, much more focused on these two characters rather than LGL’s epic, sprawling scope. Since my love of perspective shifts hasn’t gone away, readers can expect at least one of those to take place.
Q: How did the idea for Never Always Sometimes come to you? Did you know starting out how the novel would end, or did that come along as the novel progressed?
That’s a hard moment to pinpoint, but I think what drew me to this story was the always-conscious struggle as a teen between who you are and how you fit in to those around you. I wanted to zoom in on these best friends who’d been in their little happy world of two and see what happened when they left it, and when they discovered that those around them weren’t exactly what they’d imagined, that their relationship to each other might not have been what they’d thought.
The whole book was outlined from the start, but there were a good amount of changes throughout. One main change happened in the ending from the outline to when I actually wrote it, because it no longer made sense for the way the characters had come to life (which is always slightly different than how I envision when outlining).
On a day-to-day scale, I usually wake up and head straight to a coffee shop for a two to three hour session in the morning. Then I take a break for lunch and to coach basketball or any other number of activities (reading, watching a movie, long walks on what I imagine are beaches but can’t possibly be, since Mexico City has none), and I have another evening/night session for a couple of hours, either at another coffee shop or at home.
The specifics change depending on what project I’m working on, what my deadline looks like, what draft I’m on, etc. On a first draft, I try to do at least a thousand words a day, no exceptions, and I don’t stop until I reach that goal. I’ve definitely had to increase that on deadline, to something closer to 2,500 words a day.
Q: Never Always Sometimes introduces the idea of the high school cliche. What’s one cliche you’re guilty of?
I was definitely a shy kid cliché, getting crushes on girls and professing my love in handwritten letters or in imagined scenarios while lying in bed or in emails feverishly sent to confidante friends late at night.
Q: Why are you drawn to writing YA? Why do you think the young adult novel is so popular today?
I think the coming-of-age story has always been one of my favorite plot lines, and the YA coming-of-age tale is probably the best, since that’s when most of us experience our first major coming-of-age. Your teenage years are so formative, because you’re experiencing so many things for the first time. Independence, romance, broadening horizons. I think people like to be harkened back to their teenage years for a variety of reasons, either to relive the good parts, or maybe reimagine how it could have all happened. But it’s interesting to read about because we do (or at least I do) constantly think back to who we were then, to our experiences, and how they shaped us.
And two questions I like to ask in all my interviews:
Q: What’s one book you wish you could read again for the first time?
The collected Calvin & Hobbes.
Q: If you could have a meal with a fictional character, who would you choose and why? (I can see on Twitter/Instagram you’re a bit of a foodie – so I look forward to your answer!)
Ah, this question was so hard to answer. I wanted a character that could share my love of food, maybe someone who could teach me a few things. After a few days of brainstorming, and maybe because I just reread it, I would choose Emilienne from The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. Mostly because I’ve been meaning to learn how to bake, but also because I’d love to be in that unique Seattle world she and her family inhabit.
Thanks again for having me!