Today is a very exciting post that I cannot wait to finally post! It is an interview with the author of the amazing debut novel, All the Things We Never Said, Yasmin Rahman! I am a huge fan of Yasmin’s debut novel and you can find my review here. I won’t ramble too much here so here is my question time with Yasmin Rahman!
Y: Yasmin Rahman
L: Yasmin, please could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your debut novel “All The Things We Never Said”
Y: Hello! My name is Yasmin Rahman. I’m a YA writer who loves jelly babies. All The Things We Never said is a contemporary YA novel about three teenage girls who meet when they’re matched together by a website that specialises in suicide pacts. The website provides the girls tasks to do to prepare for their deaths, and through this process the girls strike up a beautiful friendship, where they all begin to feel comfortable talking about their problems and are able to help each other. Soon they want out of the pact, but the website won’t let them off that easily…dun dun dun!
L: “All The Things We Never Said” is written from the perspective of three teenage girls who are all struggling with their own mental health issues. What made you decide to tackle this issue head on in this story?
Y: The idea for the story came from my own experiences with mental illness. When I was in the deepest pit of depression as a teenager, I found solace in YA books about mental health – they were a big part of me understanding what I was going through, as there wasn’t really much conversation about mental health in those days. I really wanted to be able to write a book that could do something similar for someone else. Mental illness is still such a taboo, and I genuinely think that the more we talk about it, the more we can help those in need – that’s what I wanted to get across in the book.
L: Your debut novel also tackles region, religious beliefs and being a muslim from the first page. How important was it for you to not only have a muslim main character, in Mehreen, but to represent her, her life and her religion realistically?
Y: Yeah, extremely important. I personally long for books with Muslim characters who are both openly religious, and happy with their religion. Too often in books (and media in general) Muslims are portrayed as the same gross stereotypes, and their stories revolve around the same things – terrorism, arranged marriages etc., basically people struggling with their religion, or feeling oppressed by it. None of that has been my experience as a Muslim, and I know that’s the case for most people, so I really wanted to change that in my book and have a protagonist who is both happily religious, and with a plot that doesn’t revolve around her religion. It really meant a lot to me to include scenes of her praying, and relying on her religion – I also wanted to show that faith can be helpful when dealing with a mental illness.
L: Olivia’s perspective is written in verse which stands out when you are reading the book. What made you decide to change your writing style when writing from Olivia’s perspective?
Y: When I was drafting the novel, I did a lot of freewriting to try and get the voices spot on. I wrote a few pages of each character just talking about their life and problems. But when I got to Olivia, nothing came. She’s not the kind of character who talks openly about how she’s feeling, even to herself. There’s a lot going on underneath the surface for her. I realised that she’s the type of person who would rather narrate what’s going on around her at that particular moment. I tried writing a chapter that way and it naturally came out in staccato sentences. I added some line breaks and found myself stressing certain words when I read it to myself, so I played around with font and spacing and it all just seemed to fit together perfectly. I was genuinely quite shocked to have written in verse! Not planned at all.
L: Your book tackles a lot of important topics throughout. What other topics and people do you feel need more representation in YA novels or novels in general?
Y: I would really love to see some darker topics within YA literature. I think there’s a lot of gatekeeping that goes on – people thinking that teens aren’t “capable” of dealing with heavy topics within books, but people fail to recognise that these same teens are actually living these things themselves, and having a book that explores it in a safe way can be a such a help. I’d love to see more about how things can go wrong on the internet – I find that very fascinating (even though I love, and practically live on, the internet).
L: What can we as reader and bloggers do to promote these books and then give them the recognition they deserve?
Y: Constant shouting seems like a good plan! Honestly though, bloggers are already so great at highlighting the books they think are important. The passion in their words when they review a book just says it all. A good bookstagram photo also does not got amiss!
L: What other books would you recommitted to fans of “All The Things We Never Said”?
Y: I think the most obvious comparisons are ‘My Heart and Other Black Holes’ by Jasmine Warga, and ‘All The Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven. If you’re into the verse aspect of it, check out any of Sarah Crossan’s novels – THEY’RE ALL AMAZING (but ‘One’ is my personal fave). I also personally like to connect my book to Black Mirror, because I love that show so much and there’s some creepy internet things.
L: What are you currently reading?
Y: I have been in the biggest reading slump for over a year now – my reading pace has slowed so much, which makes me sad! I’m in a bit of a creative block at the moment too, and every time I feel like this, I return to my favourite book on the planet to try and inspire me again – Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.
L: What is your favourite book that you have read in 2019?
Y: Oh gosh, this is a hard one. I was lucky enough to nab a few proofs at YALC 2019. One of them was ‘Are You Watching’ by Vincent Ralph, which was a really interesting concept. I’m excited to see the reaction to it when it publishes.
L: Finally, are you working on anything currently that we can look forward to?
Y: I’m currently working on two projects! not sure what’s going to go ahead – publishing is so unpredictable, so I’m gonna remain tight lipped about things!
L: thank you so much for answering my questions!
I had a lot of fun doing this interview! Thank you so much to Yasmin for being wonderful!
You can find Yasmin Rahman on Twitter here.