Posted: 26th February 2021

Despite the reintroducing of another national lockdown, we are happy to introduce our new girls’ YA video series: BookSmart aimed at girls aged 13-15! Every month we will bring you a fresh set of girls’ young adult (YA) book recommendations right from our very own students, an interview with a bestselling author and even a chance to win a copy of one of their books! Be sure to like, comment and share the video using #BookSmart for your chance to win. We had originally planned to shoot BookSmart in school but we have overcome the restraints that lockdown has brought by continuing remotely. A huge well done to the girls involved who willingly accepted the new challenge that filming remotely posed. 


This month we interviewed author Sara Barnard who lives in Brighton and won the YA Book Prize 2019. She has written 6 books for young adults (listed below) and we enjoyed getting to know her! We are giving one lucky viewer the chance to win a copy of her newest book: Destination Anywhere. Like, comment or share the video below for a chance to win.












Huge thank you to Sara for joining us. Follow Sara on Twitter. 


Below is a transcript of our interview with Sara and links to buy her books. 



A: We caught up with Sara on Zoom. Let’s see the interview. Hello Sara, Thank you so much for joining us today.


S.B. Thank you for having me


A: And doing this interview with you.


S.B. I’m really happy to be here.


A: I’m glad.


M: So we have a few questions for you. In the book – the lovely book by the way – Beautiful Broken Things, did you base the character Suzanne on anyone in your life, or maybe not?


S.B: Not really. I don’t tend to base my characters on specific people. They’re always their own character. I think people you know in your own life especially your friends, sort of come into the character. And stuff that you’ve done or has happened to you sort has come into the character but the characters themselves aren’t based on anybody specific. I think you can get into a lot of trouble if you try and do that and it doesn’t end well! Can I ask you a question? What was it that made you ask about Suzanne specifically?


A: In her character, she goes through a lot of things. I was wondering as she has a certain mindset and she felt really authentic and real and so I was wondering since she felt so real if she was based on anyone.


S.B: Oh right. Yeah no more than any of the others. I think when I have based them more on people I know in the past, that is when it stopped being less authentic in a weird kind of way. So yeah, no, entirely fictional.


M: Awesome. So what was it like collaborating with other authors on your book Floored?


S.B: Yeah it was great. It was a lot of fun. The best thing about it was that the other authors and I were friends. We all know each other quite well. You know the UK YA community is quite small so we know each other anyway, so we got this opportunity to work together which was really nice. So it was difficult sometimes ‘cos there were quite a few of us but it was a lot of fun.


A: So how did the idea come about, like how was it organised – the initial ideas and process.


S.B: So the idea was an editor called Rachel Petty, it was her idea. So she found authors who would be interested and asked would you like to be involved in this project and I said yes and they said yes. Then all we knew was that we were going to write a book together. We didn’t know anything else. We just came together, we had a meeting and we talked about what we could do together. What would make the interesting book out of our 7 different writing styles and things like that. And so we thought what kind of story do we want to tell, so we came up with a story together and then we figured out the best way to tell that story with 7 different voices, so that’s how it worked.


A: That’s really cool. So I was also wondering with that so how did you end up writing it? Was it like each author wrote a chapter or was it to do with characters?


S.B: We each took a character that first meeting that we had when we came up with the story. We came up with the character ideas as well and then it was the case that we would have another meeting every time we were coming to a new section. ‘Cos it’s every year, and we would talk about that time period and what was going to happen in that time period and then we would go away and each write our character’s voice, send the chapter to everybody else. Then the next person in the sequence would write their bit and it kind of went like that. So there was a lot of emailing back and forth.


A: I also wanted to ask…in your book A Quiet Kind of Thunder, there’s a deaf character and a selective mute character. So I’m wondering how you went about conducting your research into those ideas.


S.B: I did a lot of reading, a lot of research online. I talked to a lot of people and I did an online BSL course – British Sign Language, so that I could incorporate that into the story as authentically as possible. I didn’t want to be just looking up individual phrases if you see what I mean. I wanted to have an idea of how it felt and how it looked for people. And for stuff like selective mutism for example, I didn’t go heavy into the research right away. I wanted to make sure the character is authentic. So everything that I’m doing is how would this specific character experience this specific thing. So with the selective mutism, one of the things I did was I read a teacher’s manual. So it’s designed for teachers who have students who have selective mutism. So when I read that, I could think right, how would Steffi have experienced school life. What would teachers be saying to her and how would she have experienced that. So I wasn’t reading like – this is how it feels to have selective mutism, I was reading this is what you should do if you have somebody in your environment who has it and then I could think, how would Steffi feel about being treated that way. It’s all about a roundabout way of getting to the protagonist’s character.


M: That’s really awesome! So in your new book coming out in April, the protagonist Peyton, travels to a random location. Has that ever been a dream of yours?


S.B: Well..I don’t like flying so no, I’ve never want to do it in the way that she does it. Which she does, she  just get on a plane. I would never do that because I don’t like planes but if I could go to a random destination by train, or be picked up in a car and not know where I was going, yes I would think that was quite exciting. But I also like to be prepared. Like I would want to know am going somewhere cold or am I going something hot, otherwise I would worry about packing! So I think I’m a bit to organised to be that spontaneous.


A: So was that concept inspired in any way by lockdown and the restraints that are put on us in these current times?


S.B: No. Because you have to write things quite far in advance before they’re published and Destination Anywhere was supposed to come out last year but it got delayed because of the pandemic and all bookshops being closed. I actually wrote it in 2019, when obviously we had no idea what was going to happen then. I wrote it thinking… I’d never have dreamed that people couldn’t travel, just a coincidence really that it’s turned out that way. I hope that it makes it a good time for it to come out to be able to read a happy story about travelling and friendship. In a way that maybe a bit different if it had come out a couple of years ago.


M: Almost like a way to escape real life you know.


S.B: Which is happening in the book as well.


M: You’re reading the book to escape real life and they’re also escaping real life in the book. So how has your creativity been affected by lockdown?


S.B: Well I think it would be the same for most people,  that you’ve got a lot more time but also a lot more stress and anxiety and that can really stop your creativity ‘cos you’ve just got so much going on in your head, that it’s hard to find that focus again. And also there’s a lot of concern about whether this story is relevant, like am I writing something that’s going to resonate with people in this new world that we have, especially when you’re writing for young people – teenagers like yourselves. You don’t want to be saying oh this is what teenagers are going to want to read because you just don’t know. Because we’re still right in the middle of it, we don’t know how it’s going to end. Hopefully it’s going to end soon and well! Also you don’t want to be trying to predict things. So it has been difficult. I have still been writing, writing a new book bit it’s been a very interesting time to try and be creative, but I think it’s an important time to try and be creative. Now more than ever people need stories. I’m just trying to keep going.


A: Definitely 100%..Speaking about future projects, do you have any plans or anything?


S.B: I’m still working on it, speaking to my publisher about it, trying to decide what’s going to be the next best thing and what kind of story do we want to be telling at this time, because the book I’d be writing now would come out next year, in 2022. So who knows what it’s going to be like then. There will be another book but I don’t know for certain what it’s going to be yet.


M/A: Well, it’s been lovely having you Sara,


M: thank you very much for coming.


S.B. They’ve been great questions.




Destination Anywhere


Buy from Amazon

Kindle Edtion: £3.99

Paperback: £7.03

Hardcover: £14.45





Beautiful Broken Things


Buy from Amazon

Kindle Edition: £3.99

Paperback: £5.99






Fierce Fragile Hearts


Buy from Amazon

Kindle Edition: £3.99

Paperback: £5.99






Flooredby Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson, Eleanor Wood


Buy from Amazon

Kindle Edition: £3.99

Paperback: £6.55





Goodbye, Perfect


Buy from Amazon

Kindle Edition: £3.99

Paperback: £5.59

Hardcover: £10.23





A Quiet Kind of Thunder


Buy from Amazon

Kindle Edition: £3.99

Paperback: £5.99

Hardcover: £13.01






Evie: Hi I’m Evie and I’m here to talk to you about one of my most favourite books of all time. Out of Control by Sarah Alderson. It’s a fast-paced action packed thriller, around 2 teenagers named Liva and Jay, running on the streets of New York from a Russian mafia gang. If you’re into high quality page-turners, or admire this city, this is the book for you.


Out of Control by Sarah Alderson


Buy on Amazon

Kindle Edition:£4.99

Paperback: £3.25

Hardcover: £12.83






Molly: Hi I’m Molly and the book I recommend is It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne. The book is about 2 teenagers Audrey and Harry and following their love story. I love this book because they’re likeable and relatable. If you like Romcoms, you’ll love this book!


It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne


Buy on Amazon                                                                     

Kindle Edition: £1.79

Paperback: £6.55







M: Hi I’m Madison and I’m going to recommend Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence. Indigo Donut’s about 2 teenagers in the Real Life genre. I particularly love how their backstory’s affect them in the present. It’s heavily influenced by music, so if you love music, you’ll love this book.


Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence 

Buy on Amazon
Kindle Edition: £2.99
Paperback: £6.55









A: Hello I’m Amelie, and today I’m going to talk to you about The Door to Where by Sally Gardner. An amazing historical fiction book with an engaging plot  and intriguing characters that I think a lot of people will enjoy.


The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner

Buy on Amazon
Kindle Edition: £3.99
Paperback: £6.55
Hardcover: £10.99








Rosina: Hi, the book I’d like to recommend to you today is Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, which I’ve read about 27,000 times. It’s one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. I don’t generally go in for Sci-Fi, but what I do go in for is funny books and this is a VERY funny book. The plot’s a little complicated, so I won’t try and explain it to you now. But please just read it – you’ll thank me later!


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Buy on Amazon
Kindle Edition: £3.99
Paperback: £6.49
Hardcover: £9.25








We hope you enjoy our first episode of BookSmart! Stay tuned for next month’s episode.