Best friends Dave and Julia never planned to be run of the mill high school students, dedicating their time to gossip and falling into old high school clichés. They were so dead set against the clichés that they even came up with a Never List – things they vowed to never do in high school. But Dave’s already broken a few rules so when Julia suggests they cross these items off their list, he willingly obliges. This sets the pair on a journey – one where they realize maybe part of the fun of high school is in the clichés after all.
For many, the idea of a Never List probably sounds familiar. It likely wasn’t a hard and fast list like in the case of Dave and Julia but many high school students probably swore there were things they’d never do – like wait until the night before a big project is due to start – but ended up doing anyway.
Alsaid had a similar list in high school, though it wasn’t quite the same as the list Dave and Julia compiled, and it wasn’t until after he wrote Never Always Sometimes that he remembered.
“[It was] more like a high school bucket list. With a few months left in our senior year, a couple of friends and I decided we needed to accomplish a few things before graduating. These ranged from the kind of weird (swim in a fountain – accomplished), to the wildly unrealistic (get on stage with the White Stripes), to the slightly illegal (spray painting).”
Looking at Alsaid now, it wouldn’t be hard to pin him as a YA author. But writing YA wasn’t originally on his bucket list.
“I started out writing literary adult fiction, with some speculative elements/magical realism,” said Alsaid. “Initially, I became an author when a tricky visa situation three days before graduating college and I had to go with my backup plan of perusing my dreams.”
While the path to being a published author may have started out a little rocky, Alsaid is happy with the community he’s found himself in.
“Everyone is so warm and supportive and friendly. From the bloggers and the librarians to the other authors and the people working in publishing, everyone is just so kind and awesome. And, of course, the readers. Getting emails from people reading my book, meeting readers at events, constantly interacting online- these have been by far my favorite aspects of being a published writer.”
Like many YA authors, Alsaid takes the time to interact with teens. He interacts with them at events and online through platforms like Twitter and Tumblr, but he also works as a high school basketball coach and has friends who are high school teachers.
“I think being around them helps me stay a little in touch with how teens really are, how they act, how they speak,” said Alsaid. “While writing Never Always Sometimes, I took advantage of having high school teachers for friends, and I sat in on some classes. Dave and Julia listening to music through shared earphones, how often kids laugh and snack and nap in class, funny faces made out of boredom; all of these details were inspired by the school where I coach.”