Look at that sweet cover!
I have the delightful honor of being the first stop of author Raine O’Tierney’s blog tour for her new release I Will Always Miss You, a LGBT YA novel that deals with diversity and reminds its readers that family doesn’t always mean the people you share DNA with.
I was able to pin down the busy author for a bit and got her to answer some questions about the book and her writing in general. Let’s see what she had to say!
(Keep going after the interview for blurbs, excerpt,purchase links, contest info and more places where you can connect with Raine!)
1) Is this your first Young Adult book?
It is! And I’ve got to say—mad props to anyone who writes YA exclusively. Getting the ever-changing voice of a teenager right is hard work! How we talked as teens is insanely different than how teens today talk, and I don’t even consider myself a *total* dinosaur.
(MB- as a fellow YA author, I understand this struggle completely!)
2) Why do you write Young Adult?
Even though I’m closer to 30 than I am to 18, my experiences as a teenager—the good, the bad, and the awkward—are still so vibrant in my head. Writing YA lets me explore some of those emotions in a creative way.
(MB – as someone over 30 I can tell you some of that vibrancy never fades…)
3) What’s so important about I’ll Always Miss You that made you have to tell the story?
In addition to trying to contribute to positive LGBT literature for teens, I wanted to write a story about an Arab-American teenager. We need more diversity all around, but there’s a noticeable lack of Arab characters. Throughout this story Isa Zaman struggles with how others perceive him and his family and how he perceives himself.
4) Were there any parts that were difficult for you to put down on “paper”? Why?
Any time the boys were in a fight. I would argue with them, nooo, guys, let’s all get along! But characters do what they do.
(MB – They have a mind of their own, don’t they? Silly characters!)
5) What do you hope people take away with them upon completing the book?
There are so many things you can walk away with depending on the angle you look come at it from. But, hmm, my favorite theme? Family doesn’t always mean our blood relatives.
6) Who was your favorite character in the book and why?
Isa’s oldest sister Aaliyah is my favorite character. She has completely embraced her Moroccan heritage and creates beautiful things that inspire Isa on his journey. She’s also very kind—the sort of person I wish I knew in real life. I’d love to spend the afternoon with Aaliyah.
7) Who or what inspires you to write?
Siôn O’Tierney (my writing partner and hubs!) He said he married me for my sweet, sweet writing monies (hahahahaha…ha…) so I keep writing stories for him.
8) What are five of your favorite reads?
(In no particular order)
Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
(MB – I…don’t know any of these! To the Amazon.com!”)
9) Do you have any other projects in the works readers can look forward to?
I have an adult work coming out from Dreamspinner Press in May called All That Shimmers and a collaboration I did with the fantastic Debbie McGowan called Leaving Flowers that will be out in June from Beaten Track Publishing.
10) Where can fans connect with you?
Swing on by my FB page for randomness! <3
11) Bonus Question! If I’ll Always Miss You was turned into a hit Broadway musical, what would the name of the big song played in all the commercials be called?
Shoes on the Wire! (With the exclamation point.)
Pages: 256 pages
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Categories: Young Adult | Bisexual | Coming of Age |
Isa Zaman might forgive his parents for taking in a friend’s son if only he wasn’t the most boring teenager in the universe. Macklin “Mackie” Cormack’s only interests are reading and the outdoors. Yeah, right. Isa’s convinced Mackie is either a pyro or a klepto. Plus, as a white kid, Mackie looks ridiculous in the Zamans’ Arab American household. Forced to share a bedroom, the boys keep butting heads until an absurd fight finally breaks the tension between them.
Isa’s just starting to figure life out: this new houseguest, his cultural identity, school, and even girls, when the entire family is uprooted from their home for reasons Isa can’t understand. They move from their tiny city apartment to a giant, old house in a small town, hours away from everything he’s ever known. Oh, and the new house? It’s probably haunted, or so says the blank-faced ten-year-old next door. As if things weren’t weird enough, Isa’s friendship with Mackie suddenly takes a strange turn down a path Isa’s not sure he’s ready to follow. It turns out Mackie Cormack isn’t nearly as boring as Isa once imagined.
He took a deep breath. “That’s sort of the thing. I don’t like anything about her.”
“She asked me out.” Mackie shrugged. “But I don’t really like her all that much either.”
I couldn’t wrap my head around it. We’d been ignoring each other for all that time over a girl he didn’t even like? Bullshit. Complete and total bullshit.
“Are you for real?”
“So why are you going out with her, then?” And then I remembered what he’d said in my room that day, that he was dating her just because…. Because why? If we were ever going to be friends again, then I needed to know. “Why are you going out with her?”
“I really don’t want to talk about that, Isa.”
“C’mon, Mackie. It’s been driving me nuts. Why would you date someone you didn’t even like? Or do you like kissing her?”
“Not… really,” he said. “That’s kind of the thing. I thought I would. But… I don’t.”
“Okay, then stop.” I shrugged. “We’re supposed to start working at Rashid’s, and we could hang out again, and there’s only like a week left of school. We could be friends.”
I don’t… think that’s… a good idea.”
“You don’t want to be my friend?” I demanded. “What? ’Cause of Katy? ’Cause I was a jerk? That’s stupid, Mackie! It was your fault too! I don’t understand you at all.”
He was quiet for a really long time.
“I’m screwed no matter what I do,” he finally said on a low sigh.
“You think?” I asked, not knowing what he meant. I rolled Dad’s nine iron with my palm.
“Jesus H, Isa. You’re going to make me do this, aren’t you?”
“Yup,” I told him dryly. “Yup, I’m going to make you do this, whatever the hell ‘this’ is.”
He turned his face and stared at me. He stared at me so hard and for so long, I started to get uncomfortable. And then he leaned in, and I thought he was going to whisper it. Whatever the big secret was, whatever he’d been hiding from me, his reasons for dating a girl he didn’t even like, his reasons for not wanting to be my friend, all of it. Instead, he kissed me.
Rafflecopter prizes: $25 Amazon.com giftcard and an e-copy of I’ll Always Miss You
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Raine O’Tierney lives outside of Kansas City with her husband, fellow Dreamspinner Press author, Siôn O’Tierney. When she’s not writing, she’s either asleep or fighting the good fight for intellectual freedom at her library day job. Raine believes the best thing we can do in life is be kind to one another, and she enjoys encouraging fellow writers! Writing for 20+ years (with the last 10 spent on M/M) Raine changes sub-genres to suit her mood and believes all good stories end sweetly. Contact her if you’re interested in talking about point-and-click adventure games or about which dachshunds are the best kinds of dachshunds!
LGBT Author Interviews: http://raineotierneyhatparty.blogspot.com/