Hello, today I have the absolute pleasure of introducing you to Laura Steven, author of the incredible The Exact Opposite of Okay. If you’ve not picked it up yet, please do. It’s absolutely incredible. Laura is here answering 3 quick questions about her book… so I should leave you to it really!
Where did the inspiration for TEOOO come from?
In terms of inspiration, this book was SO different to everything else I’ve ever written (I’d written four full manuscripts before TEOOO).
While my novel ideas usually come to me through plot or world first, Izzy’s voice just popped into my head one morning. Seriously, the hilarious voice of a snarky teenage girl just started chirping away in my head. I felt like I might require an exorcism. So all I had to do was come up with a story for her, and the rest is history.
The plot itself is inspired by a few different things that have happened to me since leaving high school – namely a friend-zoned guy who turned aggressive, a former boss who sexually harrassed me in the workplace. I wanted to explore some of the issues facing teenage girls – slut-shaming, friend-zoning, body image, victim-blaming – but also do with humour and sass. Because life is just more fun – and more bearable – if you can laugh when everything is going to shit.
What is your favourite thing about Izzy?
The way she’s so completely, unapologetically herself. When I was that age, I knew who I wanted to be but I was too scared to be that person. Confident, funny, wise in my own way. So in a sense, I relived my teenage years vicariously through Izzy. She doesn’t care what the world thinks of her as long as she’s true to herself. She also holds her hands up when she makes a mistake and dos whatever it takes to make amends. I adore that in her too – I think when we’ve messed up, it’s human nature to go on the defensive and refuse to admit you were wrong. But Izzy readily admits she acted like a royal twat to someone she loves. That’s kinda cool of her.
What do you want people to take from TEOOO?
Well first of all, I really hope people learn never to touch their foofer after chopping chilis. In all seriousness though, I really want to inspire teenagers to speak up and fight back against the never-ending stream of misogyny diarrhea they have to face on a daily basis. I believe we’re living in a time of huge change, with the Silence Breakers being named TIME’s Person of the Year, the #MeToo campaign gathering so much steam, and powerful men beginning to be held accountable for their sexual harassment. It feels like the tide is finally turning, and I’m so proud to be joining the fight with this book.
Last week, I also had the pleasure of reading this amazing review by Liam at BookWormHole. For him, TEOOO held up a mirror to some of his past actions, and he was strong, kind and self-aware enough to admit that actually, he probably messed up in the past. I hope that by not shying away from issues like the Friend Zone and Nice Guy Syndrome that I make it easier for teens to spot these toxic themes in action, but also to recognise that behaviour in themselves. I feel like Izzy, with her raw honesty in the face of her own mistakes, would be incredibly proud.
Aspiring comedian Izzy O’Neill never expected to be eighteen and internationally reviled. But when photos involving her, a politician’s son and a garden bench emerge, the trolls set out to take her apart. Armed with best friend Ajita and a metric ton of nachos, she must figure out who’s behind the vicious website – while keeping her sanity intact. Izzy is about to find out that the way the world treats girls is not okay. It’s the Exact Opposite of Okay.
This is a book for anyone who’s ever called themselves a feminist . . . and anyone who hasn’t.
Laura Steven is an author and journalist from the northernmost town in England. Her writing has appeared in The i Paper, The Guardian and Buzzfeed, and The Exact Opposite of Okay, her YA debut, will be published by Egmont in March 2018. By day, Laura works for Mslexia, a non-profit organisation supporting women writers. She has a BA in Journalism and an MA in Creative Writing, and her TV pilot Clickbait reached the final eight in British Comedy’s 2016 Sitcom Mission. Laura is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary and Media Inc.
If you’d like to follow Laura (which you should because she’s WONDERFUL) check out her social links… there’s SO MANY places to follow her.