Adiba is an author we were very excited to interview! Her upcoming book is basically the sapphic rom-com of our dreams. The Henna Wars is due to come out in next spring and y’all should be counting the days, as we are.
She’s also very active in the community (consider following her on twitter, if you aren’t already!) & genuinely such a gem. We couldn’t be more lucky that she agreed to answer our questions.
And a little side-note: now that Pride is over, we will be publishing two interviews each month, for as long as there will be authors willing to talk with us.
Let’s start at the beginning. How did you first get into writing?
I’ve been writing for pretty much my whole life. When I was a kid, before I could read or write, I really loved storytelling. I was a super shy and awkward kid who hated talking to people who weren’t my brother, or my cousins. Which meant that I spent a lot of time inside my own head. Writing just became a natural extension to that when I learned how to pick up a pen.
What are your favourite genres to read and write?
I love reading almost all genres, but favourite is definitely contemporary. For writing, I also love trying to write different genres but again, my favourite to write, and the one I most gravitate towards is contemporary!
And are there any genres or tropes you wouldn’t write?
I think the only genre I wouldn’t be able to write is horror. Mostly because I’m a total scaredy cat so I would scare myself on the opening pages and never touch the book ever again.
How do you get inspiration for your books?
In many different ways. A lot of it I get from general life, and my own failings (like the fact that I can’t do henna led to writing The Henna Wars). But also sometimes I get “hatespired,” which means I see/read something where people like me aren’t taken into account, and decide to write myself into the narrative.
Do you have a writing playlist? And if you do, does it focus more on the lyrics or melodies, vibe of the songs?
Yes! I have writing playlists for every project that I work on. I try to make them into a mix of lyrics, melodies, and vibe, but vibe is definitely the most important thing because the music is supposed to motivate me to actually work on my books.
What’s your writing process? At what point do you let other people read your drafts and who are they?
I don’t really have a writing process. Or I have a different one for everything I write. I just like to go with the flow and see what works/doesn’t work. I’m kind of protective of my first few drafts so it’s only after the third draft, or so, that I send to other people for opinions—but that depends on the book too. Some books have cleaner early drafts than others. I have a close group of friends who help me brainstorm ideas and listen to me cry about my writing frustrations, so they’re my go-to for reading my works first.
Which three authors would you say influenced your writing the most?
Honestly, there are so many authors and books out there that have influenced my writing in ways that I can’t even begin to describe. But… being a QPOC, the most important influences have been the authors who have come before me and paved a way, and showed me (and others like me) that we need to be telling our stories and there are spaces for us.
The first person who did this was Malorie Blackman with Noughts and Crosses. I read that series when I was about thirteen or fourteen years old and it was the first time I read about people of colour. It really transformed how I viewed literature, and also how I viewed the world around me. I was also shocked because a lot of my white friends were really influenced by that book and how it talks about race.
The second author has to be Malinda Lo with Ash. It was one of the first times that I read a queer person in a book so that was amazing to read, first of all. But also I was just shocked that Malinda Lo was a gay Asian woman, because, to be honest, as ridiculous as it sounds, as a kid I didn’t think people like that existed, because I had never been exposed to it. And the fact that Malinda Lo was not only a gay Asian woman, but also proudly writing queer literature was amazing to me.
Another writer who has had a big influence on me is Nina LaCour, who primarily writes books feauturing sapphic kids. Everything Leads To You was the first time that I read a book about queer girls where they got to be happy and just do things they enjoyed and not be wrapped up in tragedy related to their identity. And I just love that Nina LaCour’s career is writing really brilliant and honest books about sapphic girls who are just…living their life, whether it’s happy or sad, or whatever else.
If (when!) your book(s) were to be made into movies, who would you like to direct them?
And for something that is also very important to us & what we put a lot of emphasis on when blogging. What does ownvoices LGBT representation mean to you?
I think ownvoices LGBT representation is super important, and I’m glad that with time, we’re getting more and more of it. Ownvoices LGBT rep means authentic rep that can help queer kids come to terms with their own sexuality in ways that don’t make them feel otherised or enable them to internalise harmful ideas about themselves and their sexualities.
For example, a harmful trope that has been existent for a long, long time, and needs to end, is the “bury your gays” trope, which has been employed by allocishet creators in an attempt to “include” queer people, but without giving us a happy ending, and often by making it queerness that leads to the death of the queer character. Stuff like that has harmed, and continues to harm, LGBTQIAP+ people because it makes us internalise these messages that our sexuality means we can’t be happy, and can’t have happy endings.
Ownvoices representation battles these kinds of harmful tropes and stereotypes that have been existent in media for way too long, and instead works towards centering LGBTQIAP+ people and telling our stories realistically. Hopefully, with more and more ownvoices stories coming to the fore, we can get rid of some of these damaging tropes and ideologies forever so that future LGBTQIAP+ kids won’t have to battle the same insecurities that many of us have.
Rec us some great LGBT books you’ve read recently! One can never have enough recommendations!
I have read some really fantastic LGBTQIAP+ books recently! First of all, Ace Of Spades by Faridah Ábíké-íyímídé, which is not out until 2020, but is fantastic and should be on everyone’s radar! It’s a mystery where the only two black kids in a prestiguous school are being bullied via text messages by someone who calls themselves Aces. And both the main characters are queer!
Like A Love Story by Adbi Nazemian is a book that I had the privilege of reading a little while ago, and it’s quickly become one of my favourite books ever. It’s a beautiful story about queer kids who lived, and loved, during the AIDS crisis.
(Related: Interview with Abdi Nazemian)
Another book that I recently loved is I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver, which is about a nonbinary kid who gets kicked out of their house after coming out to their parents’. It will probably make you cry but it’s also so so fulfulling.
I also loved Birthday by Meredith Russo. It’s this brilliant book about two kids, Morgan and Eric, who have been friends their whole lives and share the same birthday. We only get a snippet into their lives once every year as they both go through some difficult things. It’s an incredibly powerful story and will definitely stay with me for a long time.
What’s one piece of advice you would like to give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to just chill and stop being so worried about everything all the time. But also that is advice I can’t even take as an adult so…
If you could have dinner with one member of the LGBT community, dead or alive, who would it be?
I have to say Janelle Monáe but it would be a really weird dinner because I would probably be too in awe over her beauty and general amazingness to do or say anything.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adiba Jaigirdar is a Bangladeshi/Irish writer and teacher. She lives in Dublin, Ireland. She has an MA in Postcolonial Studies from the University of Kent, England and a BA in English and History from UCD, Ireland.
All her work is aided by copious amounts of (kettle-made) tea and a whole lot of Hayley Kiyoko and Janelle Monáe.
Her debut novel The Henna Wars will be published by Page Street in Spring 2020.
This was a real pleasure for us, and hopefully for you guys, as well!
We simply cannot wait to read Adiba’s book, now even more than ever!
And just a reminder of all the amazing authors we’ve previously had a privilege of talking with: