Today we're excited to chat with Liara Tamani author of
All The Things We Never Knew.
Read on for more about Liara and her book, plus an giveaway.
Meet Liara Tamani!
Liara Tamani lives in Houston, Texas. She holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College. She is the author of the acclaimed Calling My Name, which was a 2018 PEN America Literary Award Finalist and a 2018 SCBWI Golden Kite Finalist, and All the Things We Never Knew.
Meet All The Things We Never Knew!
From the moment Carli and Rex first locked eyes on a Texas high school basketball court, they both knew it was destiny. But can you truly love someone else if you don’t love yourself? Acclaimed author Liara Tamani’s luminous second novel explores love, family, heartbreak, betrayal, and the power of healing, in gorgeous prose that will appeal to readers of Nicola Yoon and Jacqueline Woodson.
A glance was all it took. That kind of connection, the immediate and raw understanding of another person, just doesn’t come along very often. And as rising stars on their Texas high schools’ respective basketball teams, destined for bright futures in college and beyond, it seems like a match made in heaven. But Carli and Rex have secrets. As do their families.
Liara Tamani, the author of the acclaimed Calling My Name, follows two Black teenagers as they discover how first love, heartbreak, betrayal, and family can shape you—for better or for worse. A novel full of pain, joy, healing, and hope for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jacqueline Woodson, and Jenny Han.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I wanted to tell a love story that highlighted the importance of self-healing. Even when two people feel a strong, instant connection, more goes into a relationship than that spark. Their family histories go into it. Their relationships with themselves go into it. There are so many teens (and adults) in pain, both of their own and inherited by their parents. And many don’t know what to do with the pain, so they try to bury it and forget about it. I have seen and known a lot of people like this. With this book, I wanted to share the truth that you can’t run or hide from your pain. If you don’t work on healing it, it will always be around wreaking havoc on your life and loves.
YABC: Who’s your favorite character in the book?
Dang, do I have to choose? This feels like choosing your favorite kid or something. But if I have to, I’d say Carli. One of the reasons I love her is because she’s so curious about the world and universe around her. Life is so rich. There are an infinite number of things to learn about. I hope I’m always as curious as Carli. Another reason I love her is her struggle with figuring out what she wants to do with her life. I can relate to that deeply. It took me a long time to get on my journey to becoming a writer. Like Carli, I followed my father’s dream for me (in her case, playing basketball; in my case, being a lawyer) for a long time. And even after I quit law school, it still took me a while to find my path. Which is just fine!
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The title. I like coming up with titles early in the process of writing because they give me a larger frame in which to see the developing themes and their connections. I usually don’t think of it before I start writing, but rather sometime after I find my rhythm and start figuring out the heart of the story.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I love the scene in which Carli and Rex are lying under the stars and trees in the forest behind Rex’s house. It’s from a chapter entitled, “Secret Spots,” and in it, Carli and Rex are sharing all the things they have been keeping from each other throughout the story. Well, almost. Carli ends up being too afraid to tell him one thing. The omission ends up having a huge impact on their relationship going forward. Secrets can bring so much confusion, misunderstanding, and unnecessary drama to a relationship; and Carli and Rex experience it all.
YABC: Thinking back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
Whew, I’ve learned so much. But one of the most important things is to be authentic. Going from being a writer (spending much of my work time in solitude) to being a published author (spending more time in public and on social media) has been a trip for me. It created all types of anxiety, insecurity, fear, doubt, and impatience¾more than enough negative emotions to knock me out of my center. What I had to learn was that I am on MY own journey. And to be fully connected to that journey, I needed to turn my focus back inside of myself. I didn’t need to concern myself with what was popular or all of the other who, what, how, and whys of my new peers. I needed to stay rooted inside of myself and my vision for the type of art I wanted to put into the world. Coming from that more authentic place has allowed me to relax and enjoy more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still out here trying to make all of my dreams come true. But I now know that I can’t let my ambitions take me away from myself
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Um, everything! Seriously, Loveis Wise did such an amazing job. From her use of color, to the way Rex and Carli are staring into each other’s eyes, to the way the celestial elements are integrated into the basketball court, to the details of their high-top Nike sneakers and their hair. I could on, but I’ll stop there. I love it!
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
Definitely the scene in which Rex confronts his dad about blaming him for his mother’s death and ignoring him his whole life. Up until that point, Rex’s way of coping had been to suppress his emotions and pretend like everything was cool. So when he finally started to allow his feelings to come up, I felt like I was right there in the room with him, watching him finally get out all the things he’d been holding in. It was hard. I cried the whole time I wrote it.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
This is a tough question because I revise while I write. I literally can’t move on from a paragraph until it sounds the way I want it to. And every day, before I start writing, I read and revise the scene I wrote the day before. I’ve been told that this is an inefficient way of writing and that I should force myself to get all the words on the page and then go back. But I haven’t been able to. It’s super stressful for me to leave words in a state that I’m not satisfied with. And part of knowing what’s next in a story, for me, is to feel really good about what I’ve already written. At least this has been my experience with my first two books. I always try to leave space for change.
All The Things We Never Knew
By: Liara Tamani
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: June 9th, 2020
Ten winners will each receive a copy of All The Things We Never Knew (Liara Tamani) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*