Lonesome When You Go: A Q & A with Saradha Koirala

cv_lonesome_when_you_goLonesome When You Go is Saradha Koirala’s first YA book, after having released two collections of poetry. We are happy to be able to participate in the Lonesome When You Go blog tour this week, following Kids’ Books NZMs Blair recommends, and Hooked on NZ Books He Ao Ano.

From our review by 14-year-old Isabelle Ralston: “Lonesome When You Go follows the story of a teenage girl named Paige as she faces all sorts of challenges with her bandmates, friends and family. Over the course of the novel Paige discovers that she can’t always control everything in her life. This novel is filled with lots of fun, quirky unique characters, who help Paige discover that she’s never alone even when it seems like no one is there.”

We asked Saradha a few questions about the basis for the book, what comes next, and what her favourite YA titles are at the moment.

pp_saradha_koirala1. When did you begin writing Lonesome When You Go – was there a particular trigger?
I started writing Lonesome ages ago! It was around the end of 2011 when I’d been teaching at a girls’ school for a few years and had ideas about what was perhaps lacking in the library for some of my students. I wanted to have a cool female lead with a strong voice – actually I probably wanted her to be cool and nerdy at the same time, but I’m not quite sure that’s how Paige turned out! I was lucky in 2012 to receive some funding to write my second book of poetry, Tear Water Tea, and used some of that bought time to also make progress on Lonesome When You Go.

2. Was it a book that came quickly? Can you describe some of the challenges writing the book, perhaps around disguising characters who were somewhat real?
None of the characters started off as real people (although they feel very real to me now!) and I realise this I could have explained this to my high school friends and ex-band mates up front, to alleviate their anxieties about me writing this book!

The main challenges for me were around creating a coherent plot. I’m primarily a poet, so I really got stuck into writing “scenes” – little snapshots of imagery and emotion – and struggled to tie these together into a story. I got some help from an awesome writing group, but the structure and story arc did not come easily at all.

Another challenge was time. I started teaching full time again about halfway through 2012, but dedicated my summer to working on Lonesome. It really was quite a long process of writing – mostly for a few hours on Monday evenings once school went back – and I put the whole manuscript away for about sixth months before I dared look at it again and then crafted it into something I felt okay about sending to a publisher.

3. You also experienced having a band in Rockquest as a teen: what was that like? Did you make it to finals? Are the winners still around now? (did you go to their concerts and boo?)
It was completely amazing to be part of Rockquest ’96! 1996 remains one of may favourite ever years for my own memories, but also what an incredible time for rock music! (I go on this rant often.)

Our band formed just for that year and we had some really fun and messy times rehearsing. My brother was the lead guitarist, his best friend on vocals and my boyfriend of the time was the drummer! As you can imagine it was fraught with love, arguments and shifting allegiances. We made it to the regional finals in Nelson and I vividly remember our performance in front of a mind-blowingly huge crowd (although some of that memory is now mixed with Paige’s fictional experience!) but remember little else from the night. I have no idea who won, but they’re probably incredibly wealthy and famous now.

4. What are you in the midst of now? How do you balance writing poetry with writing YA?
Last year I completed a third poetry collection and another YA novel. With time and space this one came much more easily to me. Now I’m busy trying to get some of the poems out into the world and am working on a third YA novel (1996 features heavily) that is somewhat more challenging to write than the first two. It’s a bit unwieldy at the moment, but I’m really enjoying trying out different styles and structures.

I still find writing poetry comes a bit more naturally to me and I have to really make a concerted effort to focus on writing fiction. Not that it’s a chore – I completely love it and I feel incredibly lucky to have time to dedicate to writing at the moment – but it takes plotting and planning and there are more rules and expectations when writing fiction, I find.

5. What are your favourite current YA books set in high schools?
People keep asking me variations on this question and I find my answers keep changing! Probably because there are so many favourites and so many great YA books to choose from, so I’ll just take it as an opportunity to mention some more awesome YA books!

In terms of books set in high schools, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky rates very highly for me. I also think John Green and David Levithan capture the high school vibe really well – Paper Towns in particular has some nice quirky schooly moments. I grew up with a rather Americanised version of high school life from movies and books, which really wasn’t anything like my experience at all. When Michael Met Mina, by Randa Abdel-Fattah feels like a very real and authentic high school story (especially for me now living in Australia) and Abdel-Fattah always does a great job of exploring issues that should definitely be being discussed among young people in the classrooms and corridors of high school.

Thank you Saradha: tomorrow sees My Best Friends are Books take on the tour, courtesy of Zac McCallum.

Lonesome When  You Go
by Saradha Koirala
Published by Makaro Press
ISBN  9780994123749

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Book Review: Middle School – Dog’s Best Friend, by James Patterson

Available on 6 April in bookshops nationwide.

cv_middle_school_dogs_best_friendI enjoyed this book. I think that I may have read one or two of James Patterson’s books in the past, but this is my first from this series. I really enjoyed the cartoon strips that the author and illustrator incorporated into this chapter book for preteens.

Middle School: Dog’s Best Friend is about boy named Rafe Khatchadorian who is just trying to survive middle school. In this novel he starts his own dog walking business to buy a WormHole Premium Multi-Platform Game Box (and also help out his family). But as most stories go this all turns to custard as some new kids turn up, whom he just can’t seem to get out of his mind. Along with this, he faces his sister being moved up into all his classes.

I really enjoyed the nail-biting suspense at the end of each chapter. I would recommend this book for anyone over 9 or someone trying to get out of reading so many comics.

Reviewed by Isabelle Ralston (14)

Middle School – Dog’s Best Friend
by James Patterson
Published by Arrow
ISBN 9781784753900

 

 

Book Review: Lonesome When You Go, by Saradha Koirala

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_lonesome_when_you_goSaradha Koirala was born and raised in New Zealand. She is a teacher of English literature and creative writing at high schools and universities. Her third book Lonesome When You Go takes us to a town in New Zealand, and into the world of rock and classical music.

Lonesome When You Go follows the story of a teenage girl named Paige as she faces all sorts of challenges with her bandmates, friends and family. Over the course of the novel Paige discovers that she can’t always control everything in her life. This novel is filled with lots of fun, quirky unique characters, who help Paige discover that she’s never alone even when it seems like no one is there.

I very much enjoyed Lonesome When You Go and it’s dramatic twists and turns and they way that the characters beliefs grew over the course of the novel. I would highly recommend this novel to any high school student or music fanatic.

Reviewed by Isabelle Ralston (14)

Lonesome When You Go
by Saradha Koirala
Published by Makaro Press
ISBN 9780994123749

Book Review: The Diamond Horse, by Stacy Gregg

cv_the_diamond_horseAvailable now in bookshops nationwide.

THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!! Stacy Gregg has, once again, left me gobsmacked. After reading one of her previous novels The Princess And The Foal, I was excited to read this one. Gregg has put an extreme amount of research into this novel, and I felt as if I had been transported halfway across the world, experiencing this story first hand next to Anna.

The Diamond Horse is based on a Russian girl, Anna Orlov, whose father breeds animals and works for the Empress Catherine. When Anna’s father buys a new horse Anna is the one to break him in, but after the horse dies, Anna’s father orders that his son, a three-day-old foal is killed because of his unique appearance. When Anna’s mother dies she gives her a black diamond necklace that holds a secret.

I really enjoyed the persistence and courage that Anna showed throughout the novel, and would recommend The Diamond Horse to anyone who loves horses or anybody between the ages of 7 – 10.

Reviewed by Isabelle Ralston (age 14)

The Diamond Horse
by Stacy Gregg
Published by HarperCollins
ISBN 9780008124397

Stacy Gregg will be in-store at Paper Plus Bethlehem for NZ Bookshop Day.

Book Review: Rent a Bridesmaid, by Jacqueline Wilson

Available now from bookshops nationwide.

cv_rent_a_bridesmaidThis is an amazing book from start to end! Written by none other than Jacqueline Wilson, the author behind Hetty Feather. I have grown up reading some of Jacqueline Wilson’s book such as Little Darlings and Clean Break, but this is definitely my favourite so far.

Rent a Bridesmaid is about a young girl named Tilly, who desperately wants to be a bridesmaid. After Tilly’s best friend Matty is a bridesmaid at her aunt’s wedding, Tilly posts an advert in the window of the local shop renting herself out as a bridesmaid. The story then follows Tilly as she is a bridesmaid in all sorts of different weddings, for all sorts of different couples. But Tilly only really wants to be a bridesmaid at her Mum and Dad’s wedding, if her Mum comes back home…

I really enjoyed the suspense and drama of this story as Tilly’s story continued. Rent a Bridesmaid is a good read for anyone interested in a simple novel, or for a 8 – 10 year old girl who loves reading. I can guarantee anyone who reads this book will thoroughly enjoy it!

Reviewed by Isabelle Ralston

Rent a Bridesmaid
by Jacqueline Wilson
Published by Doubleday
ISBN 9780857532718

Book Review: The Road To Ratenburg, by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_road_to_ratenburgJoy Cowley is one of the world’s best-known authors. She has written and published hundreds of books, and I have grown up listening to and reading these stories. But this is the first longer novel of hers that I have ever read. Joy Cowley seems to have a wonderful imagination where exists every world that she has created.

The Road To Ratenburg follows the adventures of Spinnaker Rat, his wife Retsina and there 4 ratlets. They travel to find the city of Ratenburg, after their home (the basement of an apartment building) is destroyed. The road to Ratenburg has always been a difficult journey and no rat knows if others have made it there. This family faces many challenges on their journey, including getting stuck in a bog, and crossing a lake full of giant eels.

I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure and drama of this story, and would recommend it to anyone that enjoys a good adventure story, with a general readership age of 10 – 14. Just don’t read it in the middle of the night under your blankets!

Reviewed by Isabelle Ralston (14)

The Road to Ratenburg
by Joy Cowley, with illustrations by Gavin Bishop
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776570751

Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest, by Holly Black

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_darkest_part_of_the_forestThere are no words to describe how brilliant this book is. Holly Black is an amazing author with a very broad imagination, and has had many books published previously. This is the only book of hers that I have read, but I can’t wait to read and review more now.

The Darkest Part Of The Forest is about a teenage girl called Hazel and her older brother Ben. They live in the little town of Fairfold, near the darkest part of the forest, and in the forest is a glass casket. Inside lies a sleeping faerie prince, that none can rouse. But after years trapped inside his casket, someone (or something) wakens him. This may seem like your average fairytale full of faeries, knights, princes and true love, but it certainly is not.

I really enjoyed the drama and mystery of the storyline. The Darkest Part Of The Forest is a good book for any teen interested in romance, adventure, or who loves a great fairytale. I am inspired to read more of Holly Black’s novels.

Reviewed by Isabelle Ralston

The Darkest Part of the Forest
by Holly Black
Published by Indigo
ISBN 9781780621746