Q&A :: Poppy Nwosu :: Road Tripping with Pearl Nash

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Poppy Nwosu’s new #LoveOzYA novel, Road Tripping with Pearl Nash, which I absolutely loved (you can see my review here). Today I’m excited to have Poppy on my blog answering a few questions I had about this and her previous books. Check it out below =)
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Hi Poppy! First I just wanted to say a big thanks for joining me on Bookish Bron today, and congrats on the release of Road Tripping with Pearl Nash!

Thank you so much for having me, Bron, and thanks for your nice words about my book release! It’s been a very exciting time.

– I’m always curious to know which part of a book has first inspired an author to start writing – in the case of Road Tripping with Pearl Nash, did the idea for the setting and a story that unfolds across a road trip come to you first, or was there a character who came to you that you then went on to build the story?

This book started from two ideas and then was slowly fleshed out from there!

I really wanted to write a road trip novel, as I thought it would be fun to work descriptions of the natural landscape into a story that had my characters travelling to new places. I also wanted to write a bickering enemies-to-lovers romance. I really love that bickering couple trope in stories, and I thought it would be fun to stick two people who don’t get along into a van and set them loose in the desert!

– One of the things I have really enjoyed as I’ve read your books is the way they feel so authentically Australian without feeling cliched. Is this something you think about when you’re writing? And are the some of places that Pearl and Obi visit real, or inspired by places you have been?

Thanks so much for that lovely feedback! I don’t know if I consciously set out to make my stories feel Australian, and yet at the same time, I do think I have a big focus on trying to write stories, characters and settings that feel very real to me. I suppose because of that, my books do end up having an Australian feel to them, simply because that is where I live, who I am and what is real to me.

I am definitely very inspired by the neighbourhoods around my home, and also by the natural South Australian landscape, and this new book features a lot of places that are real and that I have visited. 

For example, my main character Pearl lives in the suburbs near me (I even picked out her house, which is on the road I drive along every day!) and when she goes road tripping, she visits a town on the Yorke Peninsula here in SA with a quarry lookout and silos, which has a windfarm down the way, and that is real too. But I must admit, I take those real places that inspire me and then twist them, adding a lot of make-believe to the truth. In the end, the places that Pearl visits on her road trip have been imagined a bit differently from the truth, and although many are real places, they do become a little bit unrecognisable in the novel. 

Personally, I love that mix of fiction and fact when writing, and it is really inspiring for me to work with both when creating my settings.

Did you always set out to write YA books, and what are something you love about writing for a teen audience?

So far, I have only been writing YA, but that could always change! The thing I love most about writing books about teens are those themes around change and growth that are always a main element in every YA novel. I feel so drawn to exploring characters who change, learn, grow and strive to become the person they want to be, so writing coming-of-age YA novels really fits in with that. 

I think I love it so much because, no matter how old I get, I still feel like I am constantly changing and growing as a person, so it always feels like such a fresh and relevant theme to explore in my stories, even though I am no longer a teen myself.

Road Tripping with Pearl Nash is your third published book and I wondered whether the experience of writing has changed for you from working on your first now to now?

This is a great question! Yes, my experience when writing each book changed so much every time. In some ways, I am a more confident writer now, and I understand more about writing than I used to, so there are elements of writing a novel that feel more comfortable. But on the other hand, each time I sit down to write a new book it feels different and like starting all over again. It is almost like I need to learn how to write a book from scratch each time, and so it does not necessarily get easier to do! 

I expect that writing will always be very hard, and I will need to face new challenges each time, which is something I probably didn’t expect when I was starting out. But I really love writing stories and can’t imagine not doing it, so facing that challenge and overcoming the new difficulties associated with each new manuscript is something I still really love to do!

I know you’ve got another super exciting book on the way, with Hometown Haunts, an anthology of #LoveOzYA horror stories, about to hit shelves in October. Can you please tell us a bit about it, and what it has been like to edit a collection?  

Yes, I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to create a horror anthology, which features short stories from some absolutely incredible Australian YA authors. It’s called Hometown Haunts: #LoveOzYA Horror Tales and it comes out in October for Halloween 2021.

I feel so unbelievably excited and proud of this project, but it has definitely been a huge challenge. I actually think it might have been the hardest thing I’ve ever done! When I write a book alone, I feel a lot less pressure, because if something goes wrong in the process, it is only myself that will be impacted by that, but with Hometown Haunts, we have so many amazing writers involved, and I was so nervous about ensuring the project went smoothly. I really didn’t want to let anyone down! 

In the end, the whole thing has gone so well, and we are nearing our publication date with everything well on track for release. I am so excited to share this horror anthology with readers. I feel like all the authors involved have worked so hard to create such incredible stories, that really show off how versatile horror is as a genre, and how it can be explored in so many different ways. 

I really hope readers like this collection when it comes out at the end of October!

Lastly, I’d love to know what you are currently reading, or whether there is something you have read recently and loved that you would like to recommend to us?

I always love being asked this question! I have so many wonderful new Australian YA titles in my sights right now (and on my shelf at home, waiting to be read!) like The Monster of Her Age by Danielle Binks, Tobias Madden’s Anything But Fine (which I read as an earlier manuscript and absolutely adored), Social Queue by Kay Kerr, and also Lyndall Clipstone’s Lakesedge (which I have also read as a manuscript and highly recommend!).

My most recent read was by Australian YA fantasy author Helen Scheuerer and it was her new book A Lair of Bones. I read this so quickly and was completely addicted, I am such a fan of Helen’s books, and highly recommend them to any fantasy lovers out there ☺

Thank you so much!

Thank you so much for having me, Bron!! Your questions were excellent ☺

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I am so grateful to Poppy for her time answering these questions for me – it is always so fun to get a bit of a behind the scenes peek at an author’s writing life. I absolutely recommend Road Tripping with Pearl Nash, as well as Poppy’s previous novels, Making Friends with Alice Dyson and Taking Down Evelyn Tait, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Hometown Haunts!
You can find Road Tripping with Pearl Nash on goodreads here, and keep up to date with the latest from Poppy on her website here.

Big thanks again to Wakefield Press for sending this one my way!

xo Bron
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Road Tripping with Pearl Nash
The summer is finally here, and Pearl Nash is on a mission to save her slowly disintegrating friendship with a whirlwind end-of-year road trip that is definitely, absolutely, most positively going to solve all her problems.

Except, instead of her best friend Daisy’s feet on her dash, suddenly Pearl ends up stuck in the middle of the desert beside Obi Okocha, a boy with a mega-watt smile and an endlessly irritating attitude. Tasked with delivering him to the most epic end-of-year party ever, located in a beach shack in literal middle-of-nowhere woop woop, Pearl Nash is certain that nothing could be worse than this.

She’s wrong.

Add in a breakdown, multiple arguments, an AWOL nana and a kiss that was most definitely a huge mistake, and suddenly Pearl has the perfect ingredients for the perfect disaster.

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