You’re the youngest published writer to be featured on The Asian Writer – do you consider yourself as a young writer? And what perception do people have of you?
Of course I do. I think it’s a bit of a shock for whoever has heard of the book. Also they assume that I’m really smart which is probably completely untrue.
What is your book about?
It’s about fourteen vastly different girls who study together and by virtue of that they are forced to live and talk and be around each other all time. And it’s about how their lives change on a completely individual level and also because of the people around them.
It’s almost completely fictional. There’s no direct reference to anyone to anyplace that actually exists. But I think all writers write from their experiences. The basis for their writing comes from their own world. And this totally holds for me. You’re Not Alone is about a world I know and understand.
You cover a lot of ground in the novel through a group of young girls, which at times makes for uncomfortable reading – how did you find writing about these difficult and painful experiences? Did you feel like writing helped you to deal with them?
I think while writing it, I was sort of fascinated by this one concept – that people are nothing but layers and you need to dissect them and open up their minds to really, really understand them on a deeper level. So I thought the characters I wrote about needed to have these deeper, more intense facets to them, which is why so many of them are so extreme. Writing is the way I vent and the way I deal with a lot of emotions so honestly writing on this level about my emotions however raw or exaggerated they were, was so helpful. This is exactly why I started writing this book in the first place- to vent!
The only thing I wish I could change was my writing. It’s obviously evolved like crazy, since I wrote it over two years ago. I write very differently now, there’s more maturity to it. But otherwise, I know that I needed to get whatever I wrote out there on paper so I’m proud that I managed to do that.
I think its quite shocking to know all these things (underage sex, alcoholism, teenage abortions, attempted suicides) that you think of as western problems are happening in your homeland. Do you think that your depiction of teenage life is representative of the rest of the country?