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Author Interviews,  Features

Author Q&A: A Chat with Paige Toon for Someone I Used To Know [Excerpt]

Hey there! I know it’s been a while since I blogged and to get me motivated in the momentum to keep blogging, I thought I’d share this author interview I did with Paige Toon over on The Nerd Daily!

I’ve included the first few questions from my Q&A and if you love her answers as much as I did, you can check out the last few questions in the link below. I haven’t picked up this book just yet but I’m super excited to in the near future! Enjoy 🙂

n.b. photo credits to Tea Leaves & Reads.

Hi Paige! Congratulations on your latest novel, Someone I Used To Know, being published! Can you describe to us how it feels in five words?

I only need one: exciting! I don’t feel nervous about this one at all – I just genuinely can’t wait to hear what my readers from around the world think of it – and whether they saw a certain bit coming…

Obviously, this isn’t your first time releasing a novel, but due to what’s going on in the world at the moment, was the process different? If so, what changed for you during the pandemic? 

Funnily enough, I always intended to set this book in the Yorkshire countryside in England, long before the pandemic made it difficult to travel for research. I went there at the end of August for a recce around Brimham Rocks, the wondrous geological playground that forms the setting for much of the novel. I always write my books in Sep/Oct/Nov – there’s something about the autumn months in the UK that really gel with me creatively – and luckily, this was the only full term the kids got to go to school last year, so I was able to work uninterrupted. But this has ended up being one of my most emotional books and I definitely drew on my own personal experience of missing my family in Australia.

In Someone I Used To Know, we meet Leah, George and Theo who form great childhood bonds and meet again half a lifetime later. What inspired this story and the experiences these characters go through?

I had an idea to write about a girl whose parents fostered. I imagined it must be quite challenging to grow up in a household full of troubled children and teenagers who come and go and take up so much of your parents’ attention. But I wanted my character’s parents to be good at what they did, the sort of people who might inspire others to foster. In doing my research, I discovered that siblings are often separated when they go into care, with the younger ones being put up for adoption and the older children being fostered – sometimes they don’t even get to say goodbye. The idea for George arose from this scenario. The book is told in alternating chapters between then, when the characters are fifteen, and now, when they’re thirty. In both time frames the love story feels forbidden – but you’ll discover it’s for very different reasons.

I love the cover of the book! How did the concept for it come about, and were you involved in both UK and US covers?

Usually I offer a few suggestions for tweaks, but when the Aussie cover came through to me, I was just: ‘YES! I love it!’. There’s also a US cover, which I was more heavily involved in. I think it’s the most evocative and best reflects the book. It features an illustrated scene of Leah and George sitting up at the overhang at Brimham Rocks, looking down at Leah’s family’s alpaca farm.

Most of your novels are known for being set in a summer scene, is it the same for this novel? What do you love about the season?

When I first began writing, my books were lighthearted, escapist reads that were perfect for the beach so I tended to set them in summer. I now write books with more emotional layers, but they’re still page-turners that can be easily engaged with. Spring is actually my favourite season in the UK – the summers can be too hot and stifling. You didn’t expect me to say that, did you?! It’s sweltering here as I write this! Someone I Used to Know actually begins in spring and has scenes set in every season, but yes, a large part of it is set in summer. Hopefully the warmth will spill from the pages and heat readers up from the inside out, whatever time of year they’re reading it.

One of the themes evident was ‘second chances’, how important was that for you to explore, and what else would you like readers to take away from the story?

A second chance at love is definitely a theme: I adore slow-burn love stories so I’m always looking for reasons to keep my characters apart for a while. In the ‘fifteen’ chapters of the book, Leah can’t have a relationship with a boy who is living in her home, under her parents’ care. In the ‘thirty’ chapters, George comes back into her life and her circumstances are very different, but there’s still a good reason for her to keep him at bay. But also, the looked after children in this book are getting a second chance (sometimes a third or fourth or fifth) when they come to live with Leah’s parents. One of my favourite characters in the book is Leah’s foster brother Jamie, who was very troubled when he came to live with them, but who goes on to become a successful vet and someone people depend on. I really hope readers take away a sense of compassion for looked after children and their parents, who often get such a bad rap with little understanding of what they’ve been through. If anyone is inspired to foster or to help children who need help in any way, I would be incredibly proud.

What did you think of this excerpt? Have you read any books by Paige Toon before?

Until next time,

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