It's All About Balance: Tashie Bhuiyan
Books don't sell themselves. So what does that mean for a debut author? Saying yes to every virtual (and in-person even when those are a thing again)? Signing up for every mentorship program? Tweeting every half-hour? Making a Booktok for every day of the week? Forgoing sleep and food in pursuit of creativity?
The answer is...
No. Not at all.
And as you'll find out in this week's interview with author Tashie Bhuiyan, it's about knowing your bandwidth. Because believe it or not, an author's job is to WRITE.
1. Welp, the first question for these sort of things usually is the ‘how did you get
your agent’ question, but your debut novel, Counting Down with You, comes out
this May! So instead, would you please tell us about your journey to the yes of
publication (querying, going on submission, offer).
Of course! So I actually wrote Counting Down with You during my junior year of college,
and I somehow wrote it all in the span of 30 days in April 2019. The next month, in May,
I started querying for the first time and I was lucky enough to get an offer of
representation within ten days. By June, I signed by wonderful agent JL Stermer at New
Leaf Literary, and after a minor set of revisions, we went on submission to editors in
July. Sixteen days later in August, we got an offer for a book deal. It’s definitely not the
typical journey, and I’m honestly still in shock that it all happened so fast, but I’m so
grateful for it!
2. Congratulations on your graduation from St. John’s! Obtaining a degree, editing a
book, and maintaining a semblance of a social life must not be an easy feat. As
of late, there has been some discourse about ageism and publishing. What
advice would you give to authors in the 18-25 age group, whether they are
querying, agented, or on contract?
I think the only advice I can give is to be your own biggest fan and to build a community.
Having people around you and believing in yourself is the best way to get through it!
Knowing there are other people who are going through the same things brings a sense
of comfort and understand, so I definitely recommend that.
3. Counting Down with You is a YA Romance with a good girl meets bad boy fake
dating premise. Romance is a genre known for using tropes (much to the
satisfaction of their readers). Would you tell us a few secrets of using romantic
tropes while also how to keep readers engaged with the story?
I think keeping readers engaged is a matter of sustaining narrative tension! To make
sure there are still things left unsaid, things left for the reader to still uncover. As long as
you have that, I think anyone can pull off any romantic trope.
4. You recently served as a mentor for Pitchwars. What are some things one needs
to consider before volunteering for an author mentorship program? What makes
a successful mentor-mentee relationship.
Definitely consider whether you have the time, whether you have the editorial expertise,
and whether you have the market knowledge. All of those are important because the
mentees are relying on you to guide them through! I think being open, communicative,
and supportive makes a successful mentor-mentee relationship.
5. What are the top three things you have learned as a debut author? What advice
would you give to authors about managing expectations and setting goals?
To have at least one author friend you can go to when you want to scream, to set aside
a specific amount of time for author admin, and to find other things outside of writing that
you find enjoyment in. I think the advice I would give is to make sure you focus primarily on
your book and promoting it—I think it can be very easy to get caught up in the drama in
the book community, so giving all your attention to your book is the best way to go.
6. If you’re able to share, tell us what other novels or writing things you have in the
works. Does writing benign to ‘feel’ different after your debut?
For sure! My second book is another YA contemporary book following a Bangladeshi-
American teenager, and I haven’t said much about it yet, but it’s currently titled “Tom
Holland WIP” and it comes out in 2022. I’ll leave it at that for now! My current WIP
though, is a YA fantasy retelling of Rapunzel featuring enemies-to-lovers, a marriage of
convenience, and a villain love interest, which we’ll hopefully see in the world someday!
Writing honestly feels the same to me, but that might change once Counting Down with
You comes out, hahaha.
7. Do you know when you’re at risk of burnout? What’s your form of self-care?
Yes, I usually feel tired and exhausted and don’t want to do much more than lie in bed
and stare at the ceiling. My form of self-care is usually finding a new show to watch,
which takes my mind off things and allows me to invest in another media for a short
while, as I get my head back together!
Ok, now it’s time for the ‘fun’ questions!
8. Give us your top three good girl/bad boy pairings in romance (books, tv shows, or
Caroline Forbes and Klaus Mikaelson from The Vampire Diaries, Karen Page and Frank
Castle from The Punisher, and Layla Williams and Warren Peace from Sky High.
9. Unpopular book or writing opinion?
I’m not a huge fan of the best friends to lover trope, hahaha. I don’t mind it, but it’s
definitely not my preference!
10. Your agent calls and tells you that Counting Down with You is being adapted into
a Netflix series. You’ve been gifted with the honor of picking the leads. Who do
Oh my God, no clue. I feel like there’s no Bangladeshi-American female actresses on
my radar!? So I’m unsure for Karina. For Ace, I’d love Deaken Bluman!
Bio: 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 hopes to change the world, one book at a time. She loves writing stories about girls with wild hearts, boys who wear rings and gaining agency through growth. When she's not doing that, she can be found in a Chipotle or bookstore, insisting 2010
is the best year in cinematic history. (Read: Tangled and Inception.)
Her debut novel COUNTING DOWN WITH YOU (Inkyard/HarperCollins) releases on
May 4th, 2021.
Book order link: https://bookshop.org/books/counting-down-with-you/9781335209979.
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49399658-counting-down-with-
Website link: https://www.tashiebhuiyan.com/.