Genre: YA SFF, #LoveOzYA
Publisher: Echo Publishing
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How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?
Ida struggles more than other young people to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths.
One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she’s actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she’s considered.
How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important to her, just as she’s discovering what that is, and she can never find her way back?
Q & A W I T H A L I S O N E V A N S
1. First off, congratulations on your novel! Have you always wanted to be a writer? What inspired you to start writing Ida?
Thank you! I haven’t really, I really started writing because of fan fiction in around 2007 and then the next year was year 12 and everyone was talking about going to uni, so I enrolled in a creative writing degree. Ida started out as a 15 page script for a uni assignment that I then turned into a book.
2. Tell us a little bit about Ida, in terms of premise and characters – what is your favourite aspect of your story?
Ida, the main character of the book, can travel back and change any decision she’s made. This means she really feels no permanence in her life and so this constant state of no responsibility has eft her with no real direction in life. Her partner, Daisy, and her cousin, Frank, are both driven by their artistic goals. Ida really struggles with this, she wants what they have, she wants that drive. Ida keep skipping back through different decisions in her life, but then she starts to change too much and things go a bit awry. Her life starts to change in ways she didn’t mean, and she keeps seeing shadowy versions of herself everywhere.
My favourite aspect of the book is definitely the characters. I loved spending time with them throughout the whole process, I adore them all.
3. Ida features a main character with a totally awesome ability – she can switch between parallel universes. What drew you to writing a YA SFF novel in particular?
It was the idea of the universes that really started me writing this book. What would happen if you could change anything about your life? It’s such an interesting question and what started as a small story (the 15 page script) wasn’t enough for me, so I turned it into a book.
4. One of the things that I adored about Ida was that it features many forms of diverse representation – it is so important for readers of all ages to be able to see themselves in fiction. What are some books you’ve read that have really resonated with you?
I read Marlee Jane Ward’s Welcome to Orphancorp last year and it was absolutely beautiful. The main character is bi and the way the queer characters are handled is so great and they feel real. I just won an advance copy of the sequel on twitter the other day and I’m so excited to read it! The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth, Pink by Lili Wilkinson, A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde, Cam Girl by Elliot Wake (writing as Leah Raeder) and In-Human by Anna Dusk are some of my other favourites.
5. What’s your writing process like? Do you have any unusual habits that tend to inspire you?
I tend to write my first drafts during NaNoWriMo in November, which is where you write a novel of 50,000 words in the month. I like getting the first draft out of the way quickly, and then spending more of my time re-writing and making everything work. I find if I focus too hard on the first draft, nothing gets done. NaNo is the best way for me to pump out of the first draft quickly so I have something to work with.
6. I must say, Ida has an absolutely beautiful cover. What was running through your head when your first held the book in your hands?
Isn’t it! Jo Hunt did an absolutely AMAZING job. When I first held the book it felt so surreal, I didn’t really know how to react! I literally took it with me everywhere for the next three or four days, just to make sure it was real.
7. Last but definitely not least, are you a big YA reader? What would you like to see, as both an author and reader, highlighted more in YA fiction?
I am, I really love YA because it’s so accessible to everyone. Really just more diversity, more representation for people of marginalised groups! We can never have enough.
M I N I B O O K R E V I E W
As rare as it is to see a new addition to the #LoveOzYA SFF category, it’s even more rare to see one that is as fantastically diverse as Ida. This book follows our main character, Ida, who has the power to reverse any decision and event that she experiences by simply going back in time, or so she thinks. What follows is unique science fiction novel that introduces a lot of interesting, albeit at times confusing, concepts. The idea of parallel universes and “multiple selves” is something that has always been really interesting to me and so it was interesting to see Ida’s take on it. I also really enjoyed Ida as a main character and really enjoyed joining her on the journey that she takes through the book.
In regards to the writing style, it was a little jarring and underdeveloped and, as a result, was disruptive to the flow of the story at times. The setting of the book would have benefited from some extra attention and more detail to the world building itself would have made for a more vivid story overall.
What is particularly brilliant about this book however is the amount of representation Alison Evans chose to include. Ida is half-Vietnamese and bisexual and is in a relationship with Daisy, who is genderqueer and uses they/them pronouns. The relationship is developed before the book starts and I really enjoyed this – stable, long-term and healthy relationships are too often foregone in YA. Frank, Ida’s cousin, is transgender and we get to follow his character quite closely as well, along with multiple other LGBTQ+ side characters. It was refreshing to read a YA novel that just gets it so right in terms of diversity and for that reason, I definitely think this would be a good book to pick up if you looking for a quick SFF read!
Until next time,