Blogger Interview: Shaheen from Speculating on Spec Fic

bec2012_TNBec Stafford interviews Aussie YA Shaheen from Speculating on Spec Fic for the Escape Club.


spec on spec ficAt what age did you first get into spec fiction, and what was the first book you read in the genre?

I loved books from a very young age – the Grug and Little Miss/Mister Men books helped me learn English when we moved to Australia. I remember reading Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree and its sequels, and asking the librarian for other books with magic in them. So I guess, that’s when I fell into Speculative Fiction.

The other vivid memory I have is getting to study The Hobbit in Year 7. I think that rekindled my love of speculative fiction, and I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time that year.

How did OzYAChat come about, and what are some of your favourite titles from the 2015 checklist line up?

OzYAChat – a fortnightly Twitter chat about all things Aussie YA – was inspired by other twitter chats that were around at the time. There was one for 2014 début titles, there was #UKYAChat, and of course, #PTAChat hosted by our very own PenguinTeenAustralia. Mands at The Bookish Manicurist and I wanted to create a space where readers, authors, and publishers could come together, easily access each other.

The book I most anticipate on the #OzYAChat check list is Their Fractured Truth by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. I love the Starbound series! I’m also desperate to read Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. And I can’t forget Burn by Paula Weston, Fearless by Marianne Curley, and The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haigh, which are all available now.

It’s well known that Young Adult fiction is enjoyed by older adults, too. What do you think it is about the YA genre that appeals to the older crowd?

I love YA because it focuses on such a transformative stage of our lives, when we are in the process of finding out who we want to be. I don’t think that hope for the future, mingled with uncertainty, ever goes away, so it’s not surprising that a non-YA audience would be drawn to it.

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You study astronomy and astrophysics. I know that fantasy, paranormal, and dystopian are your favourite sub-categories of spec fic, but which sci fi authors and books are your faves, and how important is it to you as a scientist that they get their research right?

I need all books to be logical and internally consistent, which for science fiction, translates to needing the science to be accurate. Which means research, sometimes lots of it. For example, with a story about a generation ship, I want the author to have at least casually looked into space travel, into population theory, into food sources and recycling of resources. I think they’re important things to consider.

One of my favourite examples of non-YA science fiction is Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter, and I also enjoy C. J. Cherryh’s works – my favourite is Cyteen.

For YA science fiction, I don’t think I can go past Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

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You’ve said that Aladdin would be your fictional dream hubby. Who’d be your bestie and why?

Kotara, from Avatar: The Last Airbender. I thought about Tris and Katniss, all the usual suspects, but I think I’d get on best with Kotara because our world-views match a lot, whereas I don’t see the world the way the others do.

Who are some of your favourite YA bloggers and why?

All of them? Is that an acceptable answer? But iI must choose —

Cuddlebuggery Book Blog– – because Kat, Steph and Meg never fail to make me laugh.

The Bookish Manicurist – – Books and manicures, what’s not to love?

Diva Booknerd – – I think Kelly’s reviews are always insightful; I like hearing what she has to say.

Tsana’s Reads and Reviews – – Tsana’s my go-to person for Aussie titles. She reviews broadly and our views on the importance of science in books align very well!



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