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#LoveOZYAbookclub November 2020 author interview: RAWAH ARJA (The F Team)

Hello! Welcome to our Author Interview with RAWAH ARJA, author of this month’s title The F Team.

Read on to find out all about the inspirations behind The F Team…

Where did the inspiration for “The F Team” come from?

I wrote The F Team for two reasons: reading in my community is often viewed as a school chore and the fact that I never read as a kid. I found it boring and there were too many words on the pages. My high school English teacher gave me two books: Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah and Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta and that changed the way I saw books. It wasn’t necessarily reading that I didn’t like, it was the fact that I couldn’t find a book that I connected with.

The F Team came about for the exact same reason. I teach in the same community that I was born in and so the lack of reading was and is still prevalent. I wanted to tell my communities’ story from an insider’s perspective not what people read in the news. I wanted young boys and girls to feel safe and feel worthy of being represented in literature.

Why do you write for teenagers?

I write for teenagers because of my own personal experiences being in high school and struggling to find an interest in reading. It’s a critical age where you’re trying to find who you are yet juggling all the pressures that comes with becoming an adult. Also, my role as a youth mentor allows me a sneak peek back into time where my biggest worries were everything but what I thought of myself. I want teenagers to be more resilient and to feel comfortable with who they are not who the world wants them to be. I believe reading is the gateway into self-belief and faith in one’s potential.

Your book has an awesome title. But what might it have been called, if it wasn’t called what it is now?

Ooh that’s a tricky question. I’ve honestly never thought about it. I had my title picked before I knew exactly what I was writing about. But maybe it would’ve been something around being an underdog?

What are your perfect writing conditions?

My room and peace and quiet. I come from a really big Lebanese family and so sometimes it’s difficult to navigate through my own thoughts. If home gets a little too noisy, I like to go to places that remind me of my childhood where I can almost travel back in time. 

What is a curious or unusual thing about you that most people don’t know?

For a long time, I wanted to be an archaeologist and live in Egypt for a few years. I was fascinated with ancient civilisations until I realised that maybe the dead needed their peace too. 

Thank you so much Rawah for answering all our questions and for taking part in our book of the month!

Stay tuned for our discussion post for The F Team on the #LoveOzYAbookclub Facebook Page in the coming days

Emm xx

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