Q&A with Tashie Bhuiyan, Author of Counting Down with You (2021)

I am beyond excited for this post!!

It’s been almost two weeks since I reached out to the beautifully talented Miss. Tashie Bhuiyan for an interview about her writing, her upcoming 2021 YA release, and some bookish bits like which book she’d read for the rest of her life??

I first saw Tashie’s tweets when someone retweeted her on my feed with an excerpt from her Dark Rapunzel WIP to which I am dying to get my hands on. Since then, I found out she had a diverse and romantically enticing book called ‘Counting Down with You’ coming out mid 2021 that is a contemporary YA story. The story, as per description taken from Goodreads, “is about a Bangladeshi-Muslim teenager who navigates the difficulties of independence, family, and first love after being roped into a fake dating facade by a classmate”.

I want to say thank you to Tashie from the bottom of my heart for being so kind when I reached out for this Q&A. I am honored to have you on my blog and cannot wait to see your book in stores next year!

Here it is (:

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was 11 years old. I wrote a story in my sixth grade English class (it was 6 pages, lmao), but it was so much fun! I loved being able to create characters and worlds, and more than that, I loved that people would be able to read them. Telling stories has since become a joy of mine, something I can’t help even if I try.

What does an average writing day look like for you?

Sitting down somewhere with a curated playlist playing in the background. I always have a playlist for every book I write and I associate those songs with the characters. I can’t write without music playing, tbh.

I also love sprinting with my friends (which is when we both write at the same time for a period of 30/45 minutes to see who has a higher word count) because it really motivates me to do my best and not get distracted. If I’m actively writing, I can range anywhere to 3k-10k words a day, although 10k is a lot more rare, LOL. 

Where and when did you get ‘The Call’?

I got my offer last May, after coming home from Day 3 of BookExpo. I was organizing my ARCs to take a picture when I got the email and then I basically had a meltdown on my bedroom floor. The next two days, I was at BookCon as the other full requests came in and I remember at one point, I was freaking out while I was in line for an ARC. Everyone around me was massively confused, but I was on top of the world. It’s not something you can forget.

What inspired you to write Counting Down With You? 

1) My grandma. My main character’s grandma is a huge part of the story, inspired by my own lovely grandmother.

2) I wanted to write a story for young brown girls where they could feel seen. I wanted to write a story that I would have loved to read a teenager–and I wanted to write a story I needed as a teenager. 

3) I really, really, really wanted to write the fake dating trope, LOL.

Where do you get most of your inspiration for your stories?

It’s a mix of things. I’m inspired by my own experiences, the world around me, and the stories I consume. There are a lot of stories and tropes I love and have read/watched a million times over, but they never centered a brown girl. So for me, it’s important to write stories that I would love to read with someone like me as the main character. 

What was a YA book that stuck with you immediately after finishing reading it?

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi. It was one of the first books where I really felt seen and it hit me in places that other books never managed to reach. I laughed, I cried, and I would do it all over again.

How important is diversity in books, not just the ones you write, but in the ones you read as well?

SO IMPORTANT!!! It’s so important for readers to see themselves reflected on the page. Children’s books are for all children, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. When I’m reading, I try to actively seek out stories with diverse casts. It’s becoming easier and easier, which is good, but we still have a long way to go.

If your two main characters from Counting Down With You had to pick one book to read for the rest of their lives, which book would it be? 

Karina LOVES books. They mean everything to her, so this is a really hard question. She really loves Shakespeare though, so I want to lean towards Othello. But she also loves YA a lot so… a YA retelling of Othello? Yeah!

Ace rarely reads unless Karina recommends him something, but I think he has a soft spot in his heart for anything with astronomy. So maybe a sci-fi book? Honestly, maybe the novelizations of the Star Wars movies, LOL.

If you had to pick one book to read for the rest of your life, which would it be?

I would happily read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller over and over, even as it breaks my heart.

What 2020 debuts are you most looking forward to reading?

I can’t wait for These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong!!!!!!!! I’m also excited about The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar and Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar.

What is your go to beauty product/skin care product? 

Omg, I’m so bad… I literally can’t remember anything in my bathroom rn. I make my mom buy all my stuff, LOL. But it’s citrus-smelling if that helps??

Are you a Pantser or a Plotter?

Absolutely a plotter. I think I’d cry constantly if I pantsed a book. I need organization and I need to be fully aware of the journey my characters are going on. Not every scene is meticulously plotted out, but I have at least a basic idea jotted down for each one.

What is your go to writing snack?

It’s not a snack, but I go through so many packs of gum while writing. I also end up having ramen more often than not while writing, because I simply do not have the energy to do anything else, hahaha.

What are you currently writing and reading? 

Currently working on a WIP entitled “Tom Holland Book” which is a love letter to NYC featuring a celebrity love interest. I’m currently reading a translation of Mo Dao Zu Shi (MDZS) which is the novel that the show The Untamed (on Netflix!) is based off. 🙂

What advice do you have for aspiring authors looking to one day get published?

Keep writing. Seriously. Don’t get hung up on one book. Just keep writing the next thing. With every book, your craft will get better. Also befriend fellow writers who are in the same place as you. Having a community is SO helpful. On that same note, I think mentorship programs like Author Mentor Match and Pitch Wars are so rewarding and definitely something I would recommend.

How did you prepare yourself for facing the inevitable rejections that come from being in the publishing industry or trying to get into it?

I don’t really think you can prepare for rejection. My way of dealing with it has been writing, and that’s probably what I’d recommend to others. It’s productive, distracting, and time-consuming. I remind myself that even if this project isn’t the one, the next one might be. I also have so many supportive friends who I can turn to in these times and they are more than happy to remind me of my skill and talents and hype me up when I need them to. 

Which authors have had the biggest impact on you as a writer?

Probably Tahereh Mafi, Madeline Miller, Nora Sakavic, and C.S. Pacat. Their books have made me the person I am today!

What Disney film is your all-time favorite?

Oh, this is so easy. Tangled, hands down. Best Disney film and honestly… one of the best films, period. So good. SO GOOD.

If you could be one character from any YA book, who would you be and why?

Omg… I don’t know. I read so much fantasy, but I’d be terrified to live in any of those worlds and be any of those characters because their stakes are like… death. Uh, can I be Lara Jean? That would be ideal! Yup, that’s my final answer.

What are your goals for 2020?

At this very moment, it’s to write a book inspired by Inception. I don’t know HOW yet, but I really want to, so I’m going to try to find a way to make it happen in 2020.

Also, unrelated to writing, I really want to learn how to play the piano this year. (The love interest in CDWY plays the piano!)

Follow Tashie on Twitter: @tashiebhuiyan

 

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