Today’s post is extremely exciting. Recently, I was lucky enough to be invite to an event with Sita Brahmachari to celebrate her new book When Shadows Fall. We got to find out more about Sita’s writing process, being an author and more about the book as a whole. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Sita some questions about the importance of friendship in YA. Today is my stop on the wonderful blog tour to celebrate the release of When Shadows Fall, so I want to share the questions and Sita’s answers with you. Here is question time with Sita Brahmachari!
Kai, Orla and Zak grew up together, their days spent on the patch of wilderness in between their homes, a small green space in a sprawling grey city. Music, laughter and friendship bind them together and they have big plans for their future – until Kai’s family suffers a huge loss.
Trying to cope with his own grief, as well as watching it tear his family apart, Kai is drawn into a more dangerous crowd, until his dreams for the future are a distant memory. Excluded from school and retreating from his loved ones, it seems as though his path is set, his story foretold. Orla, Zak and classmate Om are determined to help him find his way back. But are they too late?
Sita Brahmachari is a multi-award-winning writer of novels, plays, novellas and short stories. Sita’s first novel, Artichoke Hearts, won the Waterstones Children’s Book Award and was voted in the Guardian’s top 50 books celebrating diversity since the 1950s.
S: Sita Brahmachari
L: Throughout When Shadows Fall we see the ups and downs of friendship. Why do you feel it was important to show this, not only in When Shadows Fall but across YA books in general?
S: That’s such a good question. I think friendships are rehearsals for our relationships as we go through life. I’m really interested in how friendships grow and change because they are rehearsals for life as it goes on. Also, as we know, young children who are bullied very badly, those relationships can be continued later on in life. They can cause people to not be able to forge strong relationships. So, they are really the founding years.
As teenagers, you don’t know what is friendship, what is love and you are trying out all those things. I think, a bit like grief, if you don’t offer them in stories then children don’t get them. I really looked for that when I was growing up. There was literally nothing. You went from books that didn’t represent you to classics that didn’t represent you but were more compelling. But, there was one book, Fifteen by Beverly Cleary with a fantastic cover and the girl was so cool. I really identified with her although I looked absolutely nothing like that but I wanted to look like that. It wasn’t just looks, it was how feisty she was, how kind she was to her friends and in quiet moments.
I love books with that have quiet moments with friends saying things to each other which makes the reader know their bonds are forever. I just think young people need that, I needed it. If someone was to ask me what I was most proud of, I’d say that I have lots of friends in my books and I’ve made lots of friends because of my books.
L: Friendship is not often seen as a central theme in YA books. It is in When Shadows Fall though. What made you decide to do this and was is a choice you made early on into writing process?
S: I wasn’t aware that friendship isn’t always a central theme in YA but it isn’t something I did on purpose I just wrote it. I run a writing group called ‘Writing into Childhood’ because I always think why childhood is for children. I think Katherine Rundell’s book Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You are So Old and Wise is so true. Children and YA books are for everyone. They may be marketed for a particular age range but they are for everyone.
I think it is good to highlight that adults and young people can be friends. I like the adult and young people friendships in When Shadows Fall. I like how Orla looks at Faith as a role model and how Faith has Orla’s back. I like highlighting the friendly things people do when they could be cruel and unkind.
L: We see Kai, Orla, Zak and Om grow up throughout the book and their different perspectives on their friendship. Why did you feel it was important to show how friendship affects people in different ways and how its importance differs between the characters?
S: One of the things that is really difficult about friendship is that it is a layered thing. It is a bit like writing a story. It is like really caring for somebody and getting to know somebody. Omid is a really hard character for the other people to get to know, you can see that at certain points in the book. Even the teachers struggle to get to know him and his intentions. It is more difficult for him to make friends due to his different culture.
I think each friendship is completely different and bonded completely differently. With Omid for example, he sees Kai and says ‘he’s my brother’ and you can see that Kai is unaware that Omid wants to be his friend. So, what one person sees as a friendship is completely different to another. I really wanted to explore that.
We can also see how friendship forms from hatred. For example Kai hates Zak throughout the book but at the beginning we see Zak immediately look out for Kai. The relationship between love and friendship is really powerful. Orla and Omid’s friendship is wonderful. We see the really story arc with them.
There you have it, a really interesting and insightful question time with Sita Brahmachari! Be sure to check out my review of When Shadows Fall as well as all the other stops on this incredible blog tour. There are so many amazing things you’ll find out about the book and more!
Thank you to Little Tiger Press, Nina Douglas and Sita Brahmachari for this incredible opportunity too!