Skip to main content

Into YA with Arvin Ahmadi


I'm so excited to get to finally be posting this interview. I read Down and Across in January and absolutely fell in love with the story. I never imagined that I'd actually get to talk about it with Arvin! He also has an awesome new book coming out called Girl Gone Viral which is out next week! I've posted reviews of both of his books, which I suggest you read if you're not familiar with his books before launching into the interview (Girl Gone Viral, Down and Across)! 

1. Girl Gone Viral is set in the near future which means that you got to build your own world based on our current framework. Brands like Tesla have risen in popularity while other elements of today’s culture like Instagram have faded into obscurity. How did you decide what made it into the future?
Quick story: When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Pokémon cards. (I promise this is related to your question.) They were all the rage on the playground. I collected them, traded them, pretty much made them my life. Today, Pokémon cards aren’t really a thing anymore, but that doesn't mean that Pokémon, the cute little anime creatures like Pikachu and Charmander, have faded into oblivion. Pokémon Go is huge. It is even more immersive than the flimsy paper cards I used to play with. If anything, Pokémon Go has brought us even deeper into the world of Pikachu and Charmander.

That was how I modeled my near-future world: similar to our world, but more immersive. We’re still Instagram-obsessed, but now that app is called “Zapp” and involves multiple phone screens. We still have Reddit, but it’s called Livvit. I wanted to crank up the volume on technology. The pace of this world was very important to me; I imagined a speedometer, with the needle increasing to a million miles an hour.

2. The future in the book is almost a mirror future to our current reality. There’s a tedious political situation, and racism and sexism and still major issues. Do you think there are ways to implement changes now so that the future doesn’t continue to repeat the past?
Wow, you’re asking some hard-hitting questions. Pulitzer Committee: take note! To answer your question, I absolutely think there are ways to implement changes now so that the future doesn’t continue to repeat the past. You know how we talk about representation in books? That’s a big conversation not just in book world, but in Silicon Valley, too. We need diversity in tech and politics, so that gadgets and policies are being made for everyone. Similarly, we talk about books as empathy-delivering devices, but I think we need more empathy in all parts of our life. I think often about this NPR piece about the decline of empathy, and… I don’t know. I just think about it a lot. And I worry that if we don’t make strides in attempting to understand why different people act they way they do, the future could get pretty dark.

3. After Down and Across, your first book, which is a YA Contemporary, Girl Gone Viral is a bit of a genre shift. Did you always want to do a project in the near future, or did this story surprise you? Are there any other genres you want to explore in the future?
The story didn’t surprise me at the time, because I was working at a tech company, but it surprises me now. As soon as I left my job, I felt the absence of tech in my life, so I put it into this story. Also, I wanted to challenge myself and write something completely different from Down and Across—different protagonist, different plot, different world. But now it definitely surprises me. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I managed to incorporate hijinks and family into a tech thriller. And of course Opal and her friends trying to find their place in the world. Those themes are my jams. They will always be what I gravitate towards in my writing.

4. Down and Across is one of my all time favorite books. It dives into self exploration and understanding while being set outside of high school. What inspired you to write that story?
You know, I'm a big believer in the idea that sometimes we have to get away to figure out who we are. For some of us, that’s summer camp. For other people, that’s college. For Scott Ferdowsi, it happened to be a big adventure in Washington, DC.
It’s like when you get into a really big fight, and then a couple days or weeks later, you think about it and you’re like, “Oh. That wasn’t actually a very big deal.” That’s the beauty of distance. It gives you clarity. It gives you perspective. Scott had to leave his sheltered life in Philadelphia and meet people like Fiora and Trent to better understand what he wanted out of his life (and of course, to see how much his parents really loved him).

5. I know that Girl Gone Viral hasn’t even come out yet, but I’m already excited about what’s coming next! Can you talk (or at least hint at) any projects we might be seeing soon?
Speaking of distance… my next book is set in Rome! In a lot of ways it's similar to Down and Across--it's a runaway story, and there are plenty of hijinks--but it's also a lot more intense. I get really personal in it. That’s all I can say for now :)


Books By This Author...
Down and Across: Review Here
Girl Gone Viral: Review Here

Links of Interest:
Geekerella: Review Here
Reasons to Preorder Books: Here
How It Feels To Float: Review Here
Into YA with Don Zolidis: Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Books I'm Looking Forward To: April

Everything feels extremely uncertain right now, and authors are rightfully concerned about their books that are debuting in the coming months. Right now, Amazon is delaying book shipments, bookstores are being forced to close, and libraries are not providing in person services. While none of that this good news, it doesn't mean that books will be forgotten during this time. If anything, we need books and the arts in general more than ever. We've all turned to Netflix and reading and music to take our minds off of the situation, and these artists need our support too.
Luckily, there are tons of ways to do this. While authors aren't getting to hold traditional book launches, many are transitioning them to places like Instagram Live, so make sure you follow the authors you love on social media. Continuing on the social media theme, it's now more important than ever to talk about the books you enjoy online and leave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon to spread the word.
Anoth…

Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out by Kate McGovern 
Overview: Astrid has a form of brain cancer called astrocytoma that causes a star shaped tumor to form near her brainstem. Though she was in remission, two years later, the cancer comes back, and Astrid becomes convinced that she won't beat the disease. She starts to pursue options that will allow her to have a life in the future, namely, cryopreservation. After essentially freezing her body, she hopes to wake up when there's a cure for her cancer so she can rejoin the world and see some of the milestones she fears missing.
On the road trip to tour the Arizona facility, though, Astrid makes other realizations about her life and eventual death that alters how she sees her original plan. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Astrid is relatable. She has a touch of dry, witty humor that makes her relatable. She loves her friends and family deeply, but she also has a conviction to follow what feels best for her. I appreciated how she always tried to stay ho…

Soooo... The World Is More Than a Little Scary

I'm not sure what exactly I want to say with this post. It feels like there's nothing left to say in a way. Over the last few days, the United States has come to realize just how serious COVID-19 is. It's a reality that people in Europe and Asia grasped long before most Americans. I think that we're all starting to realize just how much our lives are fundamentally changing. How long this will actually impact us.
I've seen a lot of different reactions on Twitter. Understandably, there's a lot of heartbreak over lost vacations, concerts, and book tours. A lot of us were using things like this to keep motivated. It's entirely understandable why these choices have been made, but it doesn't make it any less hard. So, I guess what I wanted to say first is don't feel bad for feeling bad. Yes, there are people losing much more from this, and we should be doing everything we can to help them through this time, but beating yourself up for being disappointed …

Guest Post Claire Bartlett: Unpacking Fairytales

This week I want to welcome author Claire Bartlett to the blog to talk about the fascinating history of fairy tales throughout culture and how they play a role in her new book, The Winter Duke (out March 3). I've been a huge fan of fairy tales my entire life (I even wrote a giant paper on the Brothers Grimm for a school project once), so it was so much fun to read about the history of a couple tales that Claire uncovered in her research. If you missed the last time Claire was on the blog to promote her debut, you can find that post here.


I always wanted to write a fairy tale retelling, and it only makes sense to me now that I'd combine fairy tale, history and fantasy to create The Winter Duke. Fairy tales have long been intertwined with history, and in fact it's now estimated that fairy tale tropes go back thousands of years, being retold and reworked to fit audiences. Many of them were somewhat cemented in the public mind after being written down by the Grimms, among oth…

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner Lianne Oelke (420 pages)
Overview: Jane wants to forget the past. Forget the high school that expelled her. Forget the people that watched her fall from grace. Forget her family who thinks that prayer is the answer to everything. Facing community college at Elbow River as a last resort graduation option, she signs up to be on House of Orange, a new web reality show, to solve her housing problem. Though she knows to expect the unexpected, House of Orange and its inhabitants test Jane in ways she never imagined. Maybe the year won't be as bad as she imagined. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I LOVE Jane. There are very few main characters I can say that I appreciated more. Her sarcasm, dry humor, and outlook on life echoed my own thoughts, and I loved how she was so introspective. It is fascinating to listen to Jane work through her own thoughts and recognize her behaviors as masks for other feelings. I also thought that Oelke did a wonderful job with her depiction of Ja…

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (417 pages)
Overview: Glamping should not include getting stranded in the middle of the woods with your ex-best friend. But life doesn't always go as it's supposed to. When Zorie agrees to go with her friend Regan and her crew on a summer camping trip, she doesn't know Lennon will be there, and she's certainly not expecting the group to abandon the two of them in the middle of the California wilderness, forced to complete a multi day track back to civilization. It turns out, though, that an adventure in the woods might be just what they need. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I thought that all of the characters, including the adults, were given dimension. I loved the parental dynamic between Lennon and his moms as well as Zorie's relationship with her step mom who never considered Zorie less than her own daughter.
Lennon and Zorie are also awesome characters. Zorie has to battle her intense anxiety and relinquish control while she's stuck in…

How It Feels To Float

How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox (May)
Overview: Biz has a lot of sadness in her life. Her father died when she was age 7, her group of friends abandon her, and her best friend gets sent four hours away to live with her father. The world is too much, and Biz can't just float anymore. Exploring Biz's racing thoughts and grief, the book chronicles her discovering what it means to be honestly okay. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 The characters do come vividly alive but in a sort of passive way. Biz seems almost removed from herself, like she's telling the story about her life instead of speaking as they happen. Because of this, it's like seeing Biz through a foggy window and everyone else through a kaleidoscope.
I do love how supportive her mother is, her relationship with her younger twin siblings, and the mentorship and friendship she finds from an elderly lady in her photography class.
She also has an interesting relationship with her father who comes to her in hallucinati…