Author Interview: Poppy Nwosu

Author Photograph kindly supplied by the lovely Poppy Nwosu herself 🙂

Hey lovely readers, I hope you’re all staying safe and well 🙂 I’m exceptionally excited to have had the opportunity to interview the absolutely lovely Poppy Nwosu, who’s second #LoveOzYA novel, Taking Down Evelyn Tait was published earlier this year. If you haven’t read it and her debut, Making Friends With Alice Dyson, then I cannot recommend enough that you do so!

I hope you enjoy reading the interview 🙂

1. Your character in Taking Down Evelyn Tait, Lottie, is honestly such a breath of fresh air and completely unafraid to be herself and is just so unique and wonderful – what inspired you, or who, to create such a vivid main character?

Poppy: Thank you so much for your lovely feedback, Brooklyn! I’m so glad you liked Lottie. I had so much fun writing this character. I was inspired to create Lottie from a few different things, firstly I really wanted to write a protagonist who was very different to Alice (the main character in my debut novel who is very quiet and thoughtful). I loved the idea of writing about a girl who is very outspoken and often acts without thinking about consequences.

I was also really inspired by a character in an English show I was watching at the time called Misfits (a YA style show, but definitely MA15+). In that show, the character I liked just always said the most awful things and made the worst decisions, but somehow still comes across as very charming and loveable, and I really wanted to have a go at writing a similar type of person (but a toned down more PG version, haha), who really shouldn’t be likeable but somehow still is.

So I think it was a bit of a challenge to myself.

2. Friendship is such an important theme throughout both Making Friends With Alice Dyson and Taking Down Evelyn Tait- who are some of your own personal favourite bookish
friendships?

Poppy: Oh what a great question!

Well, I suppose my mind immediately turns to Jaclyn Moriarty’s wonderful book
Finding Cassie Crazy, which was such a huge influence on me when writing both of my books. In her novel, there is a core of three girls who have this wonderful friendship, who support and love each other, but who are also very independent as well and each have their own fun storylines.

Another great friendship that I really love is Ellie and Homer from the Tomorrow series by John Marsden. They bicker like siblings, but still really love, trust and respect each other.

3. Music is such a core passion of Lottie’s in Taking Down Evelyn Tait, and it’s conveyed throughout the book so perfectly, too! I could feel Lottie’s enthusiasm and passion
for her favourite music as I was reading! I wonder though, what research did you have to undertake to get this depicted so perfectly?

Poppy: I actually based Lottie’s feelings around metal music on my husband. He is a big metal fan, and I wanted to explore his relationship with music through Lottie in my book, becauseI think often metal music is very misunderstood and people can sometimes have negative feelings towards it, or think that people who love it are a certain way. Particularly, I think, people can have the misconception that metal music is in some way negative and people who listen to it must be angry and negative themselves. In my book, Lottie describes metal music as a positive thing, something that makes her feel happy and good, which is the same way my husband explained his feelings around metal to me. It was really fun learning more about his passion!

I think often metal music is very misunderstood and people can sometimes have negative feelings towards it, or think that people who love it are a certain way. Particularly, I think, people can have the misconception that metal music is in some way negative
and people who listen to it must be angry and negative themselves. In my book, Lottie describes metal music as a positive thing, something that makes her feel happy and good, which is the same way my husband explained his feelings around metal to me. It was
really fun learning more about his passion!

4. I love how both of your #LoveOzYA novels have an Adelaide setting! I hadn’t read a great deal set in South Australia, let alone Adelaide! I got so excited reading about familiar
places! 🙂 I’d love to know what inspired you for a local setting?

I am so happy you liked the setting!

It’s interesting, as I am not sure it was a conscious decision to set the books in Adelaide, but I am so endlessly inspired by the neighbourhood I live in, and I really wanted to somehow translate that love into the way I described the setting in the book. I definitely took a little poetic licence with the distance between locations and some of the finer details in the book, but mostly it is pretty true to the area I live in and the places I love around my home.

5. What was the moment you knew that you had been bitten by the writing bug, as it were? The moment that you knew you wanted to write?

Poppy: This is such an interesting question, because if I’m honest, it was actually a really slow transition for me, from writing completely for fun with no agenda, to eventually realising that writing books is the thing I love doing more than anything else in the world. I don’t think I can pin point an exact moment where my feelings changed, but I think my love for writing just grew and grew until eventually I knew it was what I wanted to do!

6. What was the first book or series that ignited your love for reading? Are their authors that you’ve always admired or looked to for inspiration? In turn, what would you offer as advice to budding Authors? 🙂

Poppy: Oh, I think the books that made the biggest impression on me in my childhood and young teens was the Animorphs and Everworld series, both by K. A. Applegate. It has been years since I read either, but I was so invested in those stories, and they really challenged me with dark themes and complex characters. They hold such a special place in my heart and I think probably really had a lot to do with who I am today, and maybe even, the kind of writer I want to be as well.

These days I also really look for inspiration in authors like Ellie Marney, Vikki Wakefield, Helen Scheuerer, Jay Kristoff, Juliet Marillier, Yangsze Choo and Jodi McAlister ….And about a million more!
In terms of advice to budding authors, I think it’s about not giving up, as cheesy as that sounds. It can sometimes be a really hard long road, but I believe if you keep going and continue being open to learning and improving your skills, you can do it. It took me a very long time to become a published author, and sometimes that journey was very painful (and lined with rejection letters!) but eventually the right manuscript crossed the right desk at the right time.

7. It always interests me what Authors have been reading or enjoy reading – I know that you’ve stepped away from your comfort zone to just reading Young Adult and have found some
great reads as a result! Do you have a go to comfort read? What are you excited to read this year? What have you been reading lately? 🙂

Poppy: Oh I love this question!

Yes, I have been trying to take the advice of Jay Kristoff after hearing him speak at an event. He said that writers should read outside their comfort zone and read widely as it
will help improve your skills and make you think of stories in a fresh way. I still read a huge amount of YA (which I love) but lately I’ve also been delving into literary and translated fiction, which has been really fun. I read a book called
At Dusk by Hwang Sok-yong and was so moved by it. Also Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared from the World, which is light and sweet and funny, but also made me cry. I’m also reading some non-fiction history books, but that is slow going. I pick them up and read a little more every now and then.

I’ve also just finished reading Deep Water by Sarah Epstein, which was a wonderful mystery (I absolutely did not see that ending coming!). And am currently reading Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr, which has such a strong immersive voice. I also recently readLuminous by Kristy Fairlamb, which is the second in her wonderful supernatural thriller/romance duology, and I loved it!
I could go on forever about books, but suppose it is best if I stop there!

Thank you so much Poppy for taking the time to answer these questions!
Poppy: Thank you so much for having me Brooklyn, I loved ans much Poppy, answering these questions!

Happy Reading,

Brooklyn.

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