Author Chat with Seema Yasmin (Unbecoming), Plus Giveaway~ US ONLY (No P.O Boxes)!

Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Seema Yasmin!

Read on to learn more about the author, the book, and a giveaway!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Seema Yasmin

Seema Yasmin is an Emmy Award–winning journalist who was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, medical doctor, professor, and poet. She attended medical school at Cambridge University and worked as a disease detective for the US federal government’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. She currently teaches storytelling at Stanford University School of Medicine, and is a regular contributor to CNN, Self, and Scientific American, among others.

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About the Book: Unbecoming

Two Muslim teens in Texas fight for access to abortion while one harbors a painful secret in this funny and heartfelt near-future speculative novel perfect for fans of Unpregnant.

In a not-too-distant America, abortions are prosecuted and the right to choose is no longer an option. But best friends Laylah and Noor want to change the world. After graduating high school, they’ll become an OBGYN and a journalist, but in the meantime, they’re working on an illegal guide to abortion in Texas.

In response to the unfair laws, underground networks of clinics have sprung up, but the good fight has gotten even more precarious as it becomes harder to secure safe medication and supplies. Both Layla and Noor are passionate about getting their guide completed so it can help those in need, but Laylah treats their project with an urgency Noor doesn’t understand—that may have something to do with the strange goings-on between their mosque and a local politician.

Fighting for what they believe in may involve even more obstacles than they bargained for, but the two best friends will continue as they always have: together.

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~Author Chat~

 

YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write Unbecoming?

America. Period. I started writing this novel about a 17-year-old in Dallas who gets pregnant right as America criminalizes abortion under all circumstances in the summer of 2019. Then I left the manuscript alone for ages. When the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to safe abortion in 2022, my agent called me to say “Where’s your novel?! The dystopia in your speculative fiction is becoming our reality!” Reality inspired fiction. Some people have referred to parts of the novel as prophetic but it was really just me watching the news and talking to people and reading the writing on the wall.

YABC: Who is your favorite character in Unbecoming?

Laylah’s grandmother. But I won’t say why! You’ll have to read the novel to discover why.

YABC: Which came first, the concept, landscape, characters, or something else?

Laylah’s voice came to be clearly and precisely, as soon as I had the idea for a story about teens and pregnancy in a post-abortion America. I could just see Laylah sitting in a taco truck-turned-clinic in north Dallas, desperate for help, but also cursing herself under her breath for messing up her perfectly planned life! Laylah’s bestie, Noor, came to me soon after. And although I wrote a chunk of the novel (about 20,000 words) in the first few months and then left it for over a year (because I wasn’t sure I knew how to write a novel), I couldn’t stop thinking about Laylah and Noor! Their voices and their story stayed with me. 

YABC: How do you keep your ‘voice’ true to the age category you are writing within?

I read a ton of YA (because there’s so much good YA out there) and I rely on my agent, Lilly Ghahremani, and my editor, Justin Chanda, for feedback. They are kind and honest so I’ll often share early pages to check in on how the tone and voice are evolving to be sure I’m on point. 

YABC: What new release books are you looking most forward to in 2024?

Because I love spooky tales and grew up listening to horror stories about djinn (mysterious creatures from the Islamic world which nearly all Muslim kids learn about), I’m excited to read Farrah Noorzad and the Ring of Fate by Deeba Zargarpur. It’s exactly the book I needed as a kid and I’m thrilled that these books are now appearing on our bookshelves. 

YABC: What’s up next for you?

My debut short story collection, Djinnology, is out just in time for Halloween! It’s a spooky delve into the world of djinn and ghuls and all kinds of creepy and mysterious creatures from the Islamic (and pre-Islamic) world. These are the stories that more than a billion Muslim kids grew up listening to while clutching their duvets over their heads. And yet, there’s a dearth of literature on these scary creatures. I hope everyone who enjoys getting spooked will enjoy these stories.

YABC: If you could only write/illustrate one genre for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

YA! I enjoyed writing Unbecoming so much that I told my agent I’d happily write only YA for the rest of my life! I love reading YA, thinking about YA, and now writing YA. My fellow YA authors are creating layered characters and navigating complicated terrain. It’s an exciting time to be a YA author (and yes, I believe that even though we’re dealing with the massive rise in book bans). 

YABC: What can readers expect to find in your book?

A story of two imperfect friends who mean well but get in their own ways. And who among us hasn’t tried to avoid facing up to their flaws? Although many will categorize Unbecoming as an “abortion novel” (and that’s ok because it’s one of few YA books that deals with the topic), it’s really a book about friendship, family and faith. It’s a story about learning to be ok with the fact that we’re all a bit broken and messy and annoying in some way. And that despite our flaws, our besties and families love us anyway and wants to help us – if only we’ll let them.

YABC: What do you do when you procrastinate?

I love this question, because we all procrastinate! Nowadays, I allow myself to dive into procrastination. I believe it happens for a reason. It’s an invitation to explore gnarly feelings or rest or something like that. If I’m on a deadline that looks like it’s going to whiz by, I try to reach out to editors earlier rather than later about me potentially missing that deadline, although I don’t always get that right. And because I work on a few projects at a time, I’ll sometimes try to make my procrastination efficient by tricking myself into switching from one project (the one I’m trying to avoid) to another manuscript or pitch.

 

Title: Unbecoming

Author: Seema Yasmin

ISBN-13: 9781665938440

ISBN-10: 1665938447

On-sale date: Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Imprint: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Ages: 14 and up; Grades 9 and up

 

 

 

~ Giveaway Details ~

 

Three (3) winners will receive a copy of Unbecoming (Seema Yasmin) ~US Only (No P.O. Boxes)!

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

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