Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Interview with Adiba Jaigirdar for The Henna Wars

The Henna Wars

by Adiba Jaigirdar
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: May 12th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, LGBT, Contemporary, Queer
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When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.
When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.

Can you briefly describe THE HENNA WARS and its characters?

Sure! The Henna Wars is about Nishat, who is Bangladeshi, Irish, Muslim, and a lesbian. She decides to come out to her parents, but their reaction is not quite what she hoped for. They deal with it with silence, which leads to Nishat feeling pretty awful. On top of that, Nishat’s childhood friend Flávia joins at her school. When their business teacher announces a business competition, both Nishat and Flávia decide to do henna. While henna is a big part of Nishat’s culture, it’s not part of Flávia’s—who only really learned about it from a Bangladeshi wedding she attended. The problem is that Nishat can’t help her growing crush on Flávia, even though she’s angry at her for culturally appropriating. So, Nishat is left to navigate her growing feelings, Flávia’s cultural appropriation, along with her parents’ disapproval of her sexuality. 

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

The main character, Nishat! I’ve obviously spent the most amount of time with her since she’s the protagonist, and I had a really fun time writing her. What I love about Nishat is that she both reminds me of who I was as a teen, and also doesn’t at the same time. In a lot of ways, Nishat is the opposite of who I was as a teen. She is very confident in who she is: she has this wonderful, unrelenting love for her culture, even when people are very disrespectful of her culture. She is also very confident in her sexuality, despite her parents’ disapproval. Nishat knows who she is, and that’s certainly nothing like I was when I was younger!

On the other hand though, Nishat is very much guided by her emotions. Her parents’ disapproval of her sexuality really affects her, so she lashes out with anger. Without necessarily thinking through her decisions. So she makes some bad choices, and does some things that are a little thoughtless. That is definitely reminiscent of me when I was Nishat’s age—someone who was led by emotions and didn’t always make the best choices. This combination of things in Nishat as a character made her really fun to write, and I hope it made for an interesting character to read as well. 

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

I was originally inspired to write this book because of henna! I was on a summer holiday in Bangladesh where I was visiting my grandmother. I had all of these tubes of henna and I decided that I wanted to teach myself how to do henna. Unfortunately, I’m not a very good visual artist so I wasn’t particularly successful, but it gave me the idea of two teen girls with rivalling henna businesses. Then, I thought, wouldn’t it be even more interesting if they were also romantically interested in each other? 

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

Feelings by Hayley Kiyoko! The reason for it probably goes without saying but…Nishat is definitely very driven by her feelings in the book!

If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would play your characters?

This is a difficult question to answer! There aren’t really a lot of Bangladeshi, or Afro-Brazilian actors (and I don’t think I know any). If there was a movie, I hope we’ll be able to find some! 

What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

Somewhere really cozy, like cuddled up in bed or in front of a fireplace. For a drink, definitely some really strong chai. 

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish THE HENNA WARS?

For more books with South Asian representation, you can’t go wrong with a novel by Sandhya Menon. When Dimple Met Rishi or her upcoming 10 Things I Hate About Pinky. For more books featuring queer POC romances, you should definitely pick up Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson, or Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett. For books with a Muslim romance, I absolutely love Love From A To Z by S.K. Ali and More Than Just A Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?

Seeing it through! I think it’s easy to come up with an idea, even to start a book. But the difficult part is coming back to it day after day, writing draft after draft, revising, rewriting. These are the hard parts, after much of the shine of a brand-new idea has been lost. You need to be pretty dedicated to see a book through all the way from beginning to end. 

What’s next for you?

I have another sapphic romcom coming from Page Street in 2021!

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.

She is a contributor for Bookriot. Previously, she has published short fiction and poetry in various journals and anthologies.

All her work is aided by copious amounts of (kettle-made) tea and a whole lot of Hayley Kiyoko and Janelle Monáe.

She is represented by Uwe Stender at TriadaUS.

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☪️ G I V E A W A Y ☪️ . . Happy Tuesday, beautiful bookish people! How's your week going so far? I have quite a famous and controversial question for you today, what do you consider cultural appropriation? If it is a taboo question for you, what culture do you like/would you like to learn more about? . . I am asking this because today is THE HENNA WARS by @dibs_j book birthday 🎉🎊🥂 (congrats!) and can I tell you this book is EVERYTHING? It shows how difficult it is to be homosexual in a Muslim family, the hurt of how your family react, but also the love some members can show you, love regardless of sex and race and most important the meaning of cultural appropriation. Very well written piece of work with powerful messages. . . Are you excited? Well, today's your lucky day! Turns out we have partnered with @pagestreetya 📚 to give you the chance to win 1 copy of THE HENNA WARS. . . Entries for the giveaway: ▪︎Follow @theffbc & @whatmakespatri ▪︎Follow @dibs_j ▪︎Follow @pagestreetya ▪︎Answer below my question above ⬆️ . . Extra entries: ▪︎Tag a friend (each friend will be an extra entry). ▪︎Share on your stories about the giveaway (tag @whatmakespatri & @theffbc) ▪︎Follow @michellesulk ▪︎Follow any other FFBC team member participating in the tour (Comment section who did you follow): @dawnelize @laurensboookshelf @TheReadingCornerforAll @mousethatreads @emeliesbooks . . . These 5 bloggers will be posting their HENNA WARS photos tomorrow (Wednesday). Go check their accounts tomorrow to gain more giveaway points! Let's celebrate #TheHennaWars all together! 🎊 . . . Also, check my interview with Adiba later today on my site and enter our rafflecopter giveaway to win another copy! . . . #adibajairgirdar #pagestreetya #pagestreetkids #yalgbtbooks #lgbtq🌈 #FFBCTours #roaring20sdebut #yaromance #ireadya #bookshimmy #gimmeallthebooks #bookporn #igreads #lgbtqreads #bookstagram #teenfiction #yabookstagram #bookgiveaway #booknerd #bibliophile #bookphotography #booksbooksbooks #bookrec #avidreader #bookfriends #cutereads
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1 comment:

  1. I've read excellent reviews of this book and can't wait to read it too. It's on my TBR and wish list.