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Blog Author Interview with Kereen Getten!

Author Interview with Kereen Getten!

By Kereen Getten | Author, Interview, Recommended Reads

Author Interview with Kereen Getten!

We chat with Kereen about her book 'If You Read This' , her inspiration behind the book and much more!

‘If You Read This’ is a beautifully told, coming-of-age story. If you only had three words to describe the book, what would they be and why?

That’s a good question! Probably love, forgiveness and acceptance. Love, because despite the theme being grief, Brie is surrounded by love. Love from her friends, her mother, her grandmother and grandfather and ultimately realizing she has love from her father too. Forgiveness because I think part of Brie’s journey is finding forgiveness not only for her father who she believes has let her down, and her mother for leaving her but for herself. I think she feels a lot of guilt for the negative emotions she has, particularly for her mother. And acceptance because she is really learning to accept what has happened to her despite not wanting to face it.

Where did the inspiration for ‘If You Read This’ come from?

There were many small ideas that came together perfectly for this story. The letters came from when I used to have pen pals when I was younger. The treasure hunt came from lots of little games I used to play as a child, and the dementia storyline came from my short but impactful relationship with my grandfather who suffered from dementia.

‘If You Read This’ focuses on such themes as family, love and loss. What message do you hope readers will take from the book?

When I write, all I want is for people to enjoy it. But more than that, I want readers to feel seen. To know that they and their experiences matter.

In the book, Brie goes on a unique treasure hunt. Have you ever been on a treasure hunt yourself?

I haven’t, no but I do love the idea of one. I have been on lots of adventures with my family. My parents were very impulsive and would take us on a road trip on a whim. But also I think the games I would play as a child inspired the idea of a treasure hunt.

You grew up in Jamaica and use this setting wonderfully. Care to share with our readers your fondest memories of Jamaica and what you miss most?

My fondest memories were of playing in our front yard. All the kids in the neighbourhood would gather there as we decided what to do that day. It was in my family's front yard that we picked mangoes from the tree, made up new games, continued old ones and explored the world around us. I miss the weather most of all I miss waking up on a weekend morning to the smell of my mum's cooking, the windows open and music laying loudly while a soft breeze stirred the curtain through the open window. but I also miss the views. From our house we had a clear view of the ocean and behind us a forest of trees.

We’ve heard that when growing up you were a huge pen pal fan. Can you tell us a little more about this and the impact writing letters by hand had on you?

Yeah, when I was around thirteen to maybe eighteen I had pen pals around the world. It first started because of a band I loved called NKOTB. Every time my friends and I went to a concert we would swap addresses with other fans to keep in contact. One of these friends sent me a friendship book, and the idea was, you wrote a little info about yourself in this little handmade book that anyone could make, then passed it on to one of your pen pals. If you liked the sound of someone in that book you made contact with them or they made contact with you. I think at one point I had two hundred pen pals around the world.

I learnt so much from that time. I learnt about people and cultures different from me, but also made me realize how similar we all are, at the same time. It opened my eyes to how fascinating the world was. But it was also a great writing exercise for me. Pen pals from Japan or New Zealand would ask about my life, where I lived, school, and I would learn to describe it to them vividly as though they were there with me.

Do you have any advice for any aspiring future writers out there on how to start writing and where to draw inspiration from?

Start with what you know, what you love. Draw inspiration from your own life and see where it takes you. When I first started writing, I wrote stories about school, friendship and boys. "When Life Gives You Mangoes" and "If You Read This" are both inspired by my hometown. Write what you know and be gentle on yourself. It takes time and lots of practice to create something from scratch

Do you have a favourite book/author you would like to share with us?

Favourite recent books I’ve read are "Glasshouse of Stars" by Shirley Marr, "The Haunting of Tyrese Walker" by JP Rose and "Sade and Her Shadow Beasts" by Rachel Faturoti

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. We have one final question: what can we look forward to in the future? Any new books planned?

I have a short story coming out in January titled "Ada Rue and The Banished" about a young girl who moves to a town only to find out there are magical people only she can save. I also have an adventure series coming out next year too that is yet to be announced. It’s about a group of friends in the Caribbean who meet on a smaller island every school holiday. They form a detective agency to solve mysteries, but they aren’t very good at it!


Thank you so much to Kereen for taking the time to talk to us! Check out 'If You Read This' here! You can also follow Kereen on Twitter here to keep up to date with her work and new releases.

Published: Fri 21st Oct 2022

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