Counting Down with You has been on my radar ever since I first read the synopsis, so believe me when I say I was ✨ SCREAMING ✨ when I got an ARC ~ (thank you HarperCollins and Inkyard Press). For those of you wondering, yes, I have read it, and yes, it’s exceeded both my expectations and all the hype surrounding it!! My review will be up in a few weeks, and you can hear me gushing about Counting Down with You then. This book releases on the 4th of May, 2021, but keep reading for pre-order links, and my interview with Tashie! I’m so excited to have her here, because she is SUCH a talented writer, and has written an #OwnVoices contemporary I have completely FALLEN IN LOVE with!!
I would also like to thank Ruby, Michelle, Tiffany, and CW for giving me tips on reaching out to authors, and how to go about author interviews as a whole! All their feedback was so helpful (🥺), and they’re honestly the nicest, so go check their blogs out.
Synopsis of CDWY (via Goodreads):
A reserved Bangladeshi teenager has twenty-eight days to make the biggest decision of her life after agreeing to fake date her school’s resident bad boy. How do you make one month last a lifetime?
Karina Ahmed has a plan. Keep her head down, get through high school without a fuss, and follow her parents’ rules—even if it means sacrificing her dreams. When her parents go abroad to Bangladesh for four weeks, Karina expects some peace and quiet. Instead, one simple lie unravels everything.
Karina is my girlfriend.
Tutoring the school’s resident bad boy was already crossing a line. Pretending to date him? Out of the question. But Ace Clyde does everything right—he brings her coffee in the mornings, impresses her friends without trying, and even promises to buy her a dozen books (a week) if she goes along with his fake-dating facade. Though Karina agrees, she can’t help but start counting down the days until her parents come back.
T-minus twenty-eight days until everything returns to normal—but what if Karina no longer wants it to?
My Interview with Tashie! ~
Ahaana: Hi, Tashie! I’m so excited to have you here! For everyone who doesn’t know, could you please tell us something about your upcoming contemporary debut, Counting Down With You?
Tashie: Of course! Counting Down with You is a YA contemporary that follows the main character Karina Ahmed after her parents go abroad to Bangladesh for a month on vacation. In their absence, she somehow gets roped into a fake-dating facade with the bad boy of her high school, Ace. Chaos ensues as the countdown begins to her parents returning home!
Ahaana: As you’re an #OwnVoices author, what is one scene or quote from CDWY that you’re proud of, or is close to your heart?
Tashie: The quote stay as strong as you can. I think a lot of times, when giving advice, we give options like “fight back!” or “run away!” and so on, but there’s incredible power in just staying strong and remaining true to yourself. My author’s note in CDWY touches more on this!
Ahaana: I know you’ve talked about this in detail before on other platforms, but what did your publishing journey look like? How did you start working on CDWY, and what was your journey to finally getting published?
Tashie: I wrote CDWY in April 2019 over the course of 30 days, as a Camp NaNoWriMo project, because I wanted to try my hand at writing a YA contemporary for the first time. After having a few rounds of beta readers, I went on to query in May 2019, and got an offer of representation from an agent within 10 days. By September 2019, I had a book deal! It was super surreal. I still can hardly believe it!
Ahaana: What inspired Counting Down With You, and how has it changed since that first draft?
Tashie: Counting Down with You wasn’t exactly inspired by anything specific, but rather it was written with the intent of writing stories where brown girls could feel seen. In that regard, I don’t think the book has changed significantly at all–the heart of it is still the same as it was in the first draft, and every time a reader tells me they did feel seen, my heart bursts with joy. In general terms though, the pacing of the book has changed and a lot of the side characters have a lot more depth than they did in the original draft.
Ahaana: Are you currently working on any WIPs? I know that you’ve said you’re doing a Rapunzel retelling – so I’m really excited about that (and can’t wait to see you slay the fantasy genre!!), but are you also working on anything else at the moment?
Tashie: Yes, I’m doing a Rapunzel retelling! Super excited about that project. Right now, I’m slowly drafting another YA fantasy project inspired by the movie Inception with dream magic, so that’s been fun. Fantasy was actually my first love, so it’s really great to be able to get back to it after writing contemporary for a bit!
Ahaana: How did you plan out Counting Down With You?
Tashie: I honestly wrote out every single plot point in bullet point form and then assigned them days on the calendar (since CDWY takes place in such a strict timeline of 28 days) and then just went for it, hahaha.
Ahaana: Describe CDWY, or any of your upcoming WIPs with a famous song or meme!!
Tashie: My next book after CDWY, “Tom Holland WIP” (which comes out in 2022), is the epitome of Cornelia Street by Taylor Swift. The idea of falling in love with someone in a place that you now define by their presence — and losing them would mean losing the city — is a huge theme in it!
Ahaana: I loved reading about all the characters and their relationships with the people around them in CDWY!! My review isn’t out yet, but how did you come up with the characters and all their distinct personalities?
Tashie: I think I pulled from the world around me! I thought about all of the things I know about my friends, my classmates, my family, my acquaintances, even the people I’ve passed once or twice in life, and then plucked traits here and there to create fully formed characters. I think it’s important to create bonds that feel real and authentic, like someone we would fully be able to envision encountering in our day-to-day lives.
Ahaana: Do you listen to any music while writing, or use any apps to help you focus, plan, or write?
Tashie: I write in Scrivener, which is super helpful! It allows me to have a lot of documents and files readily available in one place. And I definitely listen to music while writing! — I actually have a Karina and Ace playlist that I listened to while drafting the book: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5ZtVpU9RohtcN8AHb07pVm?si=n-OxHhj1RtedeGyAE2fmIQ/.
Ahaana: After writing, and publishing such an AMAZING contemporary novel, we know you’re a great author!! What advice would you give to the rest of us also looking to write a book, or just wanting to write in general?
Tashie: I think the most key thing is to focus on your love for storytelling, and the way to do that is to keep consuming media. Whether it’s books, television, movies, podcasts, video games, etc, etc. make sure to keep nurturing that love within yourself. The writing will come naturally after that! (:
About the Author
Tashie Bhuiyan is a Bangladeshi American writer based in New York City. She recently graduated from St. John’s University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, and is an Author Mentor Match alum. Born and raised in Queens, she’s been a New Yorker her entire life and grew up in the city that never sleeps. As a writer (and avid reader), she’s used to not getting that much sleep anyway.
Since she was in sixth grade, she’s been attempting her hand at telling stories. Her first novel was an outstanding six pages. From the middle grade summers spent in the library, where her mother used to work, to the high school years spent in the hallways of Bronx Science writing thousands and thousands of words that will thankfully never see the light of day, she’s developed an intense passion for the written word.
Nowadays, she can be found in either a bookstore or a Chipotle in midtown rambling about the ten billion book ideas in her head (or the latest meme she happened to come across on Twitter) using a significant amount of hand gestures.
Her debut YA contemporary novel COUNTING DOWN WITH YOU (Inkyard/HarperCollins) releases on May 4th, 2021. She is represented by the lovely JL Stermer at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.