Author Interview with Farah Naz Rishi of I Hope You Get This Message

DEBUT DISTRICT is a regular feature on Artsy Draft in which I post appreciation towards debut releases through author interview, book blitz, listopia, review, and other related content.

Hi, everyone! This week, I finished reading I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi and it’s instantly become a new favorite of mine. Farah’s genre-mixing of contemporary and science-fiction is a fresh breath of air, especially when both genres executed so well and balanced perfectly to deliver such a touching story. Today, I’m delighted to have a chat with Farah to discuss all about her debut, from the reason for choosing alien invasion to end humanity to the challenges of developing the three main characters’ arcs. Also, you can read my full review of I Hope You Get This Message here!


Q: Salaam, Farah! Thank you for chatting with me today! First of all, I want to congratulate you on your debut release, I Hope You Get This Message! Can you share what’s this story about and what inspired you to write it in the first place?

A: Thank you, Vinny! Well, I Hope You Get This Message is a story that envisions a hyperintelligent alien species that is currently debating whether or not to pull the kill-switch on humanity, which they’ve deemed a failed experiment. While these debates are happening, humans discover their plan to possibly destroy them all—a plan that could be executed in seven days—and of course, begin a worldwide panic. The story follows three very different teenagers in how they deal with this news, and what they do with their final seven days.

Q: Is there any particular reason for choosing an alien invasion to end the world in this story? Why not time-travel went wrong or AI gone mad?

A: I decided not to describe the aliens or really go in detail about who or what they are, and that’s because I wanted them to be seen more as a metaphor for our own collective Fear and Guilt and Anxiety about the current state of the world. Aliens felt like the perfect vessel for that end because to me, they represent the last great unknown to humanity that may in fact possibly exist—and therefore, possibly greatest fear of all.

Q: The three main characters in this story, Adeem, Cate, and Jesse, all struggled in some ways. What challenges you the most to develop each of their stories?

A: For me, the hardest part of developing any character is knowing how to balance how much of yourself to put in them, and how much to let them breathe on the page and be their own person. So for each of the three characters, I put a tiny piece of something I was personally struggling with at the time—with Cate, her relationship with her mother, with Jesse, his inability to open up, and Adeem, his relationship with his sibling—and then let it all loose on the page! It sounds cliché, but it really does feel like planting a seed and watching it grow, and more I wrote with each draft, the more those problems that were very much my own grew to be something more unique to the characters.

Q: In your author’s note, you shared an intimate behind the scene story during the process of writing this book. As a debut author, what other struggles that you had to face to bring this story alive?

A: Self-care is honestly the biggest and most important struggle with writing anything, but for me, it was absolutely imperative because I was also dealing with a series of losses. On one hand, there was this pressure to meet deadlines—personal and professional—but on the other, there was a desperate need to just…rest after everything that happened. In the end, I had to learn how to balance my priorities, and I was only able to do that with a lot of help from my support group. Especially as a debut, I felt a lot of anxiousness about hurrying up and getting the book out there—don’t we all want to see our name up in lights, if given the chance? But then I realized I only have one body, and nothing else mattered if I was just going to harm it in the process of trying to achieve my dreams. It was a humble and peaceful realization, honestly.

Q: One can’t deny that although this book featured the intensity of the end of the world as its main intrigue, you’ve left bits of wisdom here and there, whether it was a conversation between characters or their internal monologues. Which words of wisdom that you’re most connected with and why?

A: Honestly, I think my favorite bit in the book is when Adeem goes off at Ty and says, “Humans don’t make it easy for each other, and we kind of suck as a species, but we also do a lot of good, too. No matter how shitty things get, the moment we stop seeing the good and start treating each other like ants or some kind of failed experiment—that’s when the bad guys win.” I really believe that.

Q: Now, if these three friends are chilling during a summer break, which sci-fi movies that they’d most likely binge-watch?

A: I think Adeem would force Jesse and Cate to watch The Expanse. You know he’d totally appreciate nerd out over the hard science of the show. I think Cate would enjoy it, but Jesse would secretly get super into it and start daydreaming about traveling through space. 

Q: The intense drama about life and hope that you delivered with this story was heartbreaking, but the miraculous sci-fi bits of Alma and how they conducted multiple trials to determine the faith of humanity was also scene-stealing! Are you planning to write more stories and mix contemporary and sci-fi again in the future? What can we expect in your next book?

A: I absolutely love playing around with genre, and my heart will always belong with sci-fi, but for my next book, I’m doing something a little different and writing an unapologetically Muslim rom-com. 😊

And that’s the end of my interview with Farah! If you’re looking forward to reading her book, you can find all of the details and information about it below!

43699608. sy475 I Hope You Get This Message
by Farah Naz Rishi

Seven days. Seven days. The Earth might end in seven days.

When news stations start reporting that Earth has been contacted by a planet named Alma, the world is abuzz with rumors that the alien entity is giving mankind only few days to live before they hit the kill switch on civilization.

For high school truant Jesse Hewitt, though, nothing has ever felt permanent. Not the guys he hooks up with. Not the jobs his underpaid mom works so hard to hold down. Life has dealt him one bad blow after another — so what does it matter if it all ends now? Cate Collins, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she’s never met, the man she grew up hearing wild stories about, most of which she didn’t believe. And then there’s Adeem Khan. While coding and computer programming have always come easily to him, forgiveness doesn’t. He can’t seem to forgive his sister for leaving, even though it’s his last chance.

With only seven days to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide even as their worlds are pulled apart.
 
Thank you HarperTeen for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Title: I Hope You Get This Message | Series: N/A | Author: Farah Naz Rishi | Genre: Science FictionYoung Adult | Publication Date: October 22, 2019 | Purchase Links: AmazonBook Depository

Trigger Warning: Active shooter, anxiety, depression, homophobia, mention of suicide attempt, racism, violence.

Are you thinking about adding I Hope You Get This Message into your next reading list?

I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

Your pain is where the light enters you.

DEBUT DISTRICT is a regular feature on Artsy Draft in which I post appreciation towards debut releases through author interview, book blitz, listopia, review, and other related content.

43699608. sy475 I Hope You Get This Message
by Farah Naz Rishi

Seven days. Seven days. The Earth might end in seven days.

When news stations start reporting that Earth has been contacted by a planet named Alma, the world is abuzz with rumors that the alien entity is giving mankind only few days to live before they hit the kill switch on civilization.

For high school truant Jesse Hewitt, though, nothing has ever felt permanent. Not the guys he hooks up with. Not the jobs his underpaid mom works so hard to hold down. Life has dealt him one bad blow after another — so what does it matter if it all ends now? Cate Collins, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she’s never met, the man she grew up hearing wild stories about, most of which she didn’t believe. And then there’s Adeem Khan. While coding and computer programming have always come easily to him, forgiveness doesn’t. He can’t seem to forgive his sister for leaving, even though it’s his last chance.

With only seven days to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide even as their worlds are pulled apart.
 
Thank you HarperTeen for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Title: I Hope You Get This Message | Series: N/A | Author: Farah Naz Rishi | Genre: Science FictionYoung Adult | Publication Date: October 22, 2019 | Purchase Links: AmazonBook Depository

Trigger Warning: Active shooter, anxiety, depression, homophobia, mention of suicide attempt, racism, violence.

what is it about?

It’s seven days before the world ends because of an alien invasion as our three characters tried their best to deal with it in their own ways. Adeem tried to seek for his runaway sister. Cate tried to seek the shadow of a father she never met. And Jesse tried to seek for a way to get him and his mom out of debts. But maybe, these three strangers weren’t that different, as the three of them seek nothing but the truth for their unanswered questions. And maybe, they weren’t a stranger to each other after all.

what do I think about it?

I Hope You Get This Message is one of the most heartfelt books that I read this year, and I swear that I’m not being overdramatic when I’m stating this. What really piqued my interest at first to start reading this book is the urgency behind ‘the world is ending in seven days’ as the three characters tried to redeem whatever it is that they’ve been struggling with. It is really interesting when you’re thinking about it. What you’re going to do if you know that you only have seven days left to be alive? What’s your deepest desire? What’s your unanswered question?
 
Obviously, just from its short blurbs, this book is very heavily centered on its characters and their relationships. Although not going to lie, the science-fiction bits of the alien invasion was also very well-written and detailed, and I really enjoyed that they did trial after trial to determine the faith of human being. I certainly didn’t expect the aliens to be highly considerate, but I was touched. If Rishi’s going to write sci-fi for her next book, then I can assure you that I’d be the first in line to pre-order it.

But the thing about the end of the world was this: either everything mattered, or nothing did.

Even days after I read this book, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. As I mentioned before, human interactions and relationships were the highlights of this story. I thoroughly enjoyed each journeythat the characters went through in order to face the end of the world. Adeem is the character that I could relate to the most, as we’re both Muslims and we both have siblings. His back and forth intention for looking at his runaway sister was understandable, and I applaud Rishi for being able to convey the complexity of brother-sister relationships. As for Cate, I feel deeply upset about her struggles. One is too young to deal with a mother who suffered schizophrenia while also at loss for a figure of a father. Her guilts for not doing enough, either for taking care of her mother during their last days on Earth or for not seeking her father, was heartbreaking. And as for Jesse, his daily struggles to simply stay alive with his mother while also dealing with anxiety and depression were too much to bear for a young man, or even for anyone, really.

Be kind, Adi. Life’s too exhausting as it is to hold on to anger so tightly.

The message that really shined through this story that also has been sitting in the back of my mind for the past couple days, is how people going to fully lean on hope when they realized that they don’t have anything else to lean on. And that they are willing to give their everything to brings up their hope as high as possible. Although it might seem foolish at glance, but it’s the reality of human beings.
 
I Hope You Get This Message is a sincere and powerful debut that will tear down your emotions. Among its intensity, Rishi also successfully served witty banter and words of wisdom among its characters that will be hard to forget.

what’s the verdict?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 6cKMOSK.png

enjoy the review? pin it!

what did others say about this book?

  • Angela @ BookPage said: “This nuanced and realistic story (with a twist of science fiction) is driven not merely by Jesse, Cate and Adeem’s journeys, but by the moments where those journeys intersect.”
  • Lili @ Utopia State of Mind said: “I Hope You Get This Message is quiet, introspective, character driven. It’s about family and forgiveness in the shadow of the end of the world.”
  • Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight said: “The story itself is powerful and moving, even hopeful in spite of the circumstances.”

Are you thinking about adding I Hope You Get This Message into your next reading list?

Blog Tour: The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

Fear has immobilized us. And it might be turning us into monsters.

DEBUT DISTRICT is a regular feature on Artsy Draft in which I post appreciation towards debut releases through author interview, book blitz, listopia, review, and other related content.

Hi everyone! I’m so excited today to post my review for the blog tour of The Light at the Bottom of the World! I was lucky enough to be chosen as the part of the street team to celebrate the release of this incredible debut from London Shah. Be sure to check out the full schedule of this tour at the bottom of this post and feel free to visit everyone’s posts!

43885674The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

Hope had abandoned them to the wrath of all the waters.

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father’s been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he’s innocent, and all she’s interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she’s picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she’ll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–and her father might be lost forever.

 
Thank you to the author for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Title: The Light at the Bottom of the World | Series: The Light at the Bottom of the World #1 | Author: London Shah | Genre: FantasyScience FictionYoung Adult | Publication Date: October 29, 2019 | Purchase Links: AmazonBook Depository

Trigger Warning: Abduction, claustrophobia, violence.

what is it about?

Set in the post-apocalyptic underwater London, The Light at the Bottom of the World follows the story of Leyla McQueen, sixteen years old British/Afghan Muslim racer who was seeking for the truth about his falsely charged father by the government. With the belief that her father was innocent, she joined an annual marathon event to win the first place and trade her winning with freedom for her father. Unfortunately, with the continuous attacks from genetically modified humans, corrupted government, political intrigues, and only a little to almost no clue about the truth, Leyla must risk everything if she wants to reunite with her beloved father again.

what do I think about it?

The first impression that came into my mind when I started reading this book is Shah’s eloquent and grace for building, describing and developing this daunting future of London after the world got hit by an asteroid. So, we might as well start the review from that aspect. I wouldn’t be the one to criticize much about the writing in this book. It was cinematic and incredibly vivid. Although I was having difficulty to percept a few things, especially all about the technical bits from the buildings that people used as their home, to the subs that they used to transport underwater, I’d say that it’s a personal issue of mine due to the case of unfamiliarity. Other than that, I was having an exceptional time, exploring the underwater London and its long-gone monumental buildings with exciting creatures swam in between it.
 
Shah captured the perfect balance of portraying the vast ocean as something that — of course, mesmerizing — but also frightening. I personally share a common phobia with Leyla, the fear of the deep, unknown water. The terror of not knowing what’s lurking inside the ocean will always make me anxious. But, lucky me to be living in the land. Well, not so lucky Leyla to be living exactly within her own fear.
 
Now, moving on to the characters and their quest in this story. Leyla was definitely a young, naive teen, yet it was the reason why I’d find her characterization as highly relatable. She was your typical stubborn heroine who loved too much, and for that, willing to risk just about everything for her love. In this case, her falsely charged father. She was also incredibly brave for her age, although some might perceived her courageous acts as being careless. But, I’d say that it wasn’t the correct term for her case. Can you imagine to be living deep underwater, when you’re not supposed to as a human, as a sixteen years old girl who lost her father for a vague reason that not even the minister can answer it for you? I’d for sure lost my mind.
 
The other things that I enjoyed from this book come from various aspects, from the fun fact that Leyla had a pet named Jojo, a goofy white fur ball who’s too cute to be living in the deep, dark ocean, the mysterious Ari aka Leyla’s companion during her quest of finding the truth, to Leyla’s freshly installed housemaid/navigator in the form of holographic Osca Wilde which seems to be even more confident than me!
 
The Light at the Bottom of the World is a story of hope and unrequited love, twisted within truths. If you’re craving for an original underwater dystopian universe that meets corrupted politics, then you don’t want to miss this terrific debut.

what’s the verdict?

enjoy the review? pin it!

what did others say about this book?

  • Ashley @ Cromulent Book Review said: “I love this – it would be easy for a YA protagonist to become cynical and bitter (adolescents, am I right?) but Leyla perseveres, despite her fears.”
  • Nadia @ Headscarves and Hardbacks said: “Shah’s writing is captivating in a way that allows the reader to fully submerge themselves in a unique underwater world and be swept away by the characters and the story.”
  • Olivia @ One Mused said: “The world-building here is top notch, and I really felt like I could imagine this future and the people in it.”

tour schedule

October 20th – Utopia State of Mind
October 21st – Tomes and Textiles
October 22nd – Reader Voracious
October 23rd – Hollibrary Books
October 24th – Julia Fleur
October 25th – YA Book Corner
October 26th – Headscarves and Hardbacks
October 27th – Artsy Draft (It’s me!)
October 28th – The Tsundoku Chronicles

Are you thinking about adding The Light at the Bottom f the World into your next reading list?

A Different Time by Michael K. Hill

Today is the last day of the #UltimateBlogTour for A Different Time by Michael K. Hill and I’m excited to bring you my review of this book! Also, thank you Dave @ TheWriteReads for hosting this exciting tour and give me the opportunity to join the fun! 
46024767. sy475
Keith Nolan falls in love with a remarkable young woman from the past, talking to him on a home video she recorded in 1989. To keep their conversation going, he must find more of her tapes—while forces work against them both, and time is running out.
Thank you Michael and Dave for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. A Different Time published on July 2, 2019 and  available on AmazonBook Depository, and other book retailers.

the blurb

A Different Time follows the story of 22 years old Keith Nolan, a comic enthusiast who’d rather spend his weekend digging through the flea markets to complete the comic collection that he inherited from his father. It was supposed to be just another normal weekend, until he accidentally found a home videotape, where he can communicate through the screen with a young woman who recorded it thirty years ago, Lindsey. Thrilled with his discovery and a company that he longed for, Keith must find the rest of the tapes to keep their conversation going.

the review

Concept-wise, I applaud Michael for his unique and original idea. Never in a million years, I’d imagine where someone could communicate through a used videotape, not to mention that they were thirty years apart. Although the alternate timelines concept kind of reminds me of Kimi No Nawa (Your Name), but Michael successfully delivered his own twist in this book. I’m also squealing with all of the comic references in this book and how it was explained as a timeless art piece, whether you lived in 1989 or 2019.
 
Although I’m loving the characters in this story, Keith and Lindsey, unfortunately, I couldn’t engage with their chemistry and romance. It was cute, but it was too instalove-y for my liking and the number of obstacles that Keith would conquer in order to meet the love of his life, was unbelievable to me. Yes, having a crush during your first encounter with someone is totally common, but being ready to give up your everything to fight for them? Seem a bit like a stretch to me.
 
In conclusion, I’m loving the pitch of this book but I can totally see its huge potential if the pages were longer and the characters were dug deeper. 

the verdict

tour schedule

Are you thinking about adding A Different Time to your next reading list?

After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward

So, it’s Day 8 of the #UltimateBlogTours for After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward that hosted by the wonderful Dave aka TheWriteReads! Today is my stop and I’m excited to share my initial thought about this dystopian book! Also, you can check out the other posts from many amazing bloggers on #AfterTheGreenWithered and #UltimateBlogTours on Twitter!

After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward

They tell me the country looked different back then. They talk of open borders and flowing rivers. They say the world was green. But drought swept across the globe and the United States of the past disappeared under a burning sky.

Enora Byrnes lives in the aftermath, a barren world where water has become the global currency. In a life dominated by duty to family and community, Enora is offered a role within an entity that controls everything from water credits to borders. But it becomes clear that not all is as it seems. From the wasted confines of her small town to the bowels of a hidden city, Enora will uncover buried secrets that hide an unthinkable reality.

As truth reveals the brutal face of what she has become, she must ask herself: how far will she go to retain her humanity?

Title: After the Green Withered | Author: Kristin Ward | Publisher: Independently Published | Genre: DystopianScience Fiction | Publication Date: May 18, 2018 | Format: eBook | Source: Author + Dave @ TheWriteReads (Thank you!) | LINKS: Book Depository (Affiliate)

My initial thought about this book is the massive info-dumping in the prologue. While this is highly informative and could be useful to help readers to understand the backstory of how the Earth ended up like how it told in the story, I personally struggled to get through it since it felt very technical and textbook-y, but I’m glad this writing style is over at the end of the prologue and continued with a totally different take on the first chapter.

The first chapter felt like a totally different book. While it’s full of narrative with no dialogue, I was completely surprised that I get to enjoy it. While the issue is far from light, the story was told cleverly by Ward as it was incredibly descriptive and easy to follow, especially for a slow reader like me. Not going to lie, many aspects of this first chapter made me nostalgic as it reminds me of a lot of popular books and movies back then. The general storyline was very Divergent, as we introduced to Enora, the main character who lived with her parents and was about to graduate and pick her job. The government-controlled universe was very Hunger Games as it really reminds me of the big ol’ Capitol. And the water-currency system was very In Time (2011), except it’s water and not time. Even the barcode system on the wrist was almost similar!

I’m really intrigued to see where this story going and how it’s going to end. 

Are you a fan of dystopian/post-apocalyptic book? Have you read After the Green Withered?