I am delighted to welcome Zarina Macha to the blog for both an interview and my review of her newest release - Anne. Here's a little about Zarina!
Zarina Macha is an author, blogger and musician born and raised in London, UK. She studied Songwriting and Creative Artistry at The Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford. She regularly writes a social comment blog titled 'The Zarina Macha Blog.' In her spare time she loves reading and fan-girling over Game of Thrones.
She has published three books; 'Every Last Psycho', a YA compilation of two novellas, 'Art is a Waste of Time', a collection of her poetry, and ‘Anne’, a YA coming-of-age novel. For more information about her please visit www.zarinamacha.co.uk.
And onto the interview
In your own writing, which character of yours do you relate to most?
I don’t directly base characters on myself, however I do embed elements of my own life into the characters. My fiction is based around troubled teenage girls going through external and internal hardships, which of course is personal to me but relatable to most of the population.
In my novel ‘Anne’, the character I relate to the most is Simone, who befriends Anne when they are at Lakeland Boarding School together. Simone is very similar to me; talkative, smart, upbeat, musical and good-hearted. She also struggles with depression and an alcohol problem, as does Tess in ‘Every Last Thought’, which is pretty close to home.
Do you read your own genre? Is it a favourite?
I write contemporary Young Adult fiction which I read a lot of growing up (it’s not that long ago that I was a teenager). I read many of the popular YA authors; Meg Cabot, Sarah Manning, Sarah Dessen, Cathy Hopkins, Cathy Cassiday, and the dreaded Stephanie Meyer. (Loved Twilight back then, hate it now).
Don’t tend to read much YA now, but an author I’ve grown to love these past few years who is branded YA is Louise O’Neill; I’ve read all four of her published books and eagerly await her next ones! I love her stories because she breaks down clichés and explores heavy themes for young women that we don’t see enough of. I often found a lot of happily-ever-after/all-girls-stick-together themes in the YA books I read, and wanted to write about the gritty realism of being a young person and how painful growing up can be.
If you had to describe your style in three words, what would they be?
Intense, character-driven, candid.
Was writing always your dream choice of career?
Yes, yes, and yes. Have been writing since I was a little kid. It’s branched out into various forms; fictional prose, poetry, song lyrics; creative non-fiction. Words are my passion.
Which social media do you see as a must for writers?
Facebook has been very useful to me due to the networking I’ve achieved through contacting fellow bloggers and authors (like you). There are loads of support groups for writers which contain useful information about blog tours, beta readers, ARC reviews, where to get a good editor/cover designer, and loads more. FB networking has been hugely helpful to me.
Organised or not?
I’m very organised! I’m someone who works better with things being neatly ordered and filed and listed. In my ‘Documents’ folder I have three folders; one for stories and author stuff, one for general documents, and one containing other people’s works I may be reading/editing.
Then I have separate folders for all my stories, and folders within the folders e.g. I have a folder for ‘Anne’ within ‘Stories and Author Stuff’, and then folders for each draft, and then for the final edition a folder containing all the covers….
What's your favourite book you've read?
Oh God, that’s too big a question. I’m currently reading All the Light We Cannot See, a beautiful story I’m reading incredibly slowly due to being so busy re-arranging my folders. I usually say my all-time favourite is On Beauty by Zadie Smith, which I read when I was twelve. I love the simplicity of the storyline and the richness of the prose.
Actually, I recently re-read Maya Running, one of my favourite childhood books, which is about this Indian girl raised in Canada who is having an identity crises and prays to her cousin’s magic statue of Ganesh to make her life better. Of course, the wishes come true, she realises what a terrible mistake she’s made and it goes back to normal. But it’s honestly a beautiful story and the writing is amazing – I read it so many times growing up and the magic is still there.
If you had a hashtag for your books, what would it be?
‘Are you okay, Mummy? Did Daddy hurt you again?’
Mason’s childhood in Richmond emulates suburban bliss, with a wealthy
father and a loving mother. But behind the polished windows, Anne’s
father terrorizes her mother, shattering their utopian home life with
beatings and beer. Home-schooled on a diet of books and museums,
knowledge becomes Anne’s only saviour.
One night her dad comes
home with the news that her mother has left them forever. Unable to care
for his daughter, Anne is sent to live with her kindly aunt and uncle.
Struggling to settle into day school, Anne enrolls in Lakeland Boarding
School. She meets and falls for gentle Karen, whose friends torment Anne
and her troubled roommate Simone.
Forced to confront her
traumatic upbringing, Anne learns the horrors of the past and present.
Will love, hope, and inner strength prevail?
My review: 5 stars
I picked this up as it caught my eye and the blurb sounded very interesting. It pulled me in from the first page, going back through Anne's short life, the trouble she'd faced and the way her life had changed. I adored the character, the way she stood up for herself even when presented with difficult choices, and the way she stayed true to herself. Beautifully written and heartbreaking in places, an amazing story and one that touches very much on mental health and the importance of taking care of yourself and others. I very much recommend it!
Joey here on the blog on Fridays for interviews, reviews and guest
bloggers. If you'd be interested in doing any of those, you can contact