Monday, October 23, 2023

Q&A with Laura Taylor Namey



Laura Taylor Namey is the author of the new young adult novel A British Girl's Guide to Hurricanes and Heartbreak. Her other books include A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow. She lives in San Diego.


Q: What inspired you to write A British Girl’s Guide to Hurricanes and Heartbreak?


A: A British Girl’s Guide to Hurricanes and Heartbreak takes place in the same world as A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow. A few months after Cuban Girl published, I felt my time in this world I love so much wasn’t quite finished. 


Taylor Swift’s song “Exile” gave me the first spark of an idea and the inspiration I needed to finally tell Flora Maxwell’s story.


Q: This new novel is described as a “companion” to A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow. Can you say more about the relationship between the two books?


A: British Girl takes place exactly three years after Cuban Girl ends. This book focuses on Orion Maxwell’s sister, Flora, and her struggles to navigate the death of their mum and her looming future.


In Cuban Girl, Lila Reyes is sent from Miami to England after the death of her beloved Abuela.


In Flora’s story, the opposite happens across the map. Flora exiles herself to Miami to stay with Lila’s family, and while there, she finds new experiences, a few surprises, and eventually a way to love herself that opens up her heart to accept love from someone very special.

Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, in part, “Namey continues to poignantly explore facets of grief, capturing Flora’s complex heartache. Classic rom-com hijinks maintain the levity.” What do you think of that description, and how did you balance poignancy and humor in the novel?


A: I am so pleased with that take because that’s really the tone I wanted to convey and explore when I wrote this novel. I believe that no one feeling or emotion ever exists alone. No matter what we’re facing, we are tapestries of different emotions, and so is Flora.


I wanted to create some tough scenes that honor the grief she’s feeling. I pull no punches in those scenes because they come from a place of authenticity.


But I balance those moments with many fun events that Flora (by just being herself) stumbles into. These give her (and the reader) a break and allow relationships to develop. And ultimately, the fun she experiences is part of her healing process.


One note: I’ve always wanted to write a classic YA fantasy novel ball scene. Only, I don’t write fantasy, and prom scenes don’t count for me. But, in British Girl, I found a way to finally write my dream “ball scene.” I love it. And you’ll know it when you read it!


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: That there is no one, perfect way to grieve. No checklist or series of things you must do to move through any time of grief. Also, it makes me so happy when readers tell me that I made them feel something. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m ready to start copyedits on my beloved fall 2024 irritants to lovers YA set in the Echo Park barrio of Los Angeles. Teens Clary and Emilio were so much fun to write, and I have a permanent smile on my face just thinking of them.


This book explores a real time period in California Cuban history, as well as themes of gentrification, erasure, abandonment, and what it means to leave a legacy. I just saw the first cover sketches for this book and it’s spectacular! 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: There is nothing I love more about being an author than getting to connect with readers online, or (even better) in person at events. I love meeting all of you!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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