When Shadows Fall - Sita Brahmachari Blog Tour

 Welcome back! Today's blog post is an extra special one, dedicated to Sita Brahmachari's new book, 'When Shadows Fall'.  Aside, from its stunning cover, and the book focuses on the poignant tale of Kai, Orla, Zak and Omid, 4 friends who are in their youths. Sita takes you on a tale through their troublesome teenage years ending at the age of eighteen, post-A-Level Results Day.  The novel is illustrated beautifully by the talented Natalie Sirett, a great friend of Sita's. 

The novel follows the lives of this friendship group, 13, 14, 15-year-olds with no place to go, who are outsiders from the rest of society. Sita's aim was to document the children she saw over a period of many years, being outsiders, having no place in the world. This is strongly seen through the character of Kai. Having become friends with Natalie over 25 years ago, when their children were young, this is Sita and Natalie's first book together. Sita described it as 'This book is the equivalent of slow cooking'.  

I was fortunate to be invited to an event with Sita where she discussed her journey of writing 'When Shadows Fall'.  When asked if there 'is a particular part of the book she enjoyed writing more?' by her editor, Mattie Whitehead, Sita replied, that it was the use of different voices. Throughout the book, the protagonist, Kai switches from being the observer to the child. She also thoroughly enjoyed creating the character of Ahmed and experiencing his language unfolding as he learns more English. Sita described each of the voices as having a 'different parameter'. Brahmachari also mentioned that she 'really enjoyed writing the character of Orla' - a strongly-willed, determined young woman, and showing Orla's personal development throughout the novel. Furthermore, as Sita said herself, 'this is a story about deep-bonded friendship'. The inspiration for When Shadows Fall derives from Brahmachari's own life, with her two closest best friends from school.

Conversely, the part that Sita disliked writing the most was the 'fall'. "This was when Kai is outside of the school gates begging to be let back in". However, Sita, states that "I had to tell it well" for it was an essential, moving part of the novel. 

I had the experience to interview Sita myself, I asked Sita the following questions:

  • You mentioned in Part One of the event that you really enjoyed writing the character of Orla. Who/What inspired you to characterise her?

I really enjoyed writing Orla because she grew before my eyes in ways that I had not foreseen. She kept asking me questions. it was like a dialogue going on between women of different generations. On a number of occasions, she gave me the look...

I play with the idea that my characters are like a group of young people who start with little trust... they, understandably question everything. Orla was surprising to me because she was much more conscious of how she was being confined by societal roles than I was growing up... you see her journey from childhood to adulthood, who she loves. I, like Faith in the story, have gotten behind each of these young people and I can see why Faith is mentoring Orla... she, like Kai, Zak and Omid will be a positive force for change. She feels more mature to me than Kai and I began to see how connected to her Mum and Faith in the story. I love how she never gives up on hope or her strength and honesty.

  • The book explores many themes of opportunities, community, mental health...  What is your favourite theme in the book, and why?

My favourite theme is the power of love, community and friendship to regenerate lands and people. 

  • If there's one quotation you would like to take away, what would it be?

'When Shadows Fall you stand beside', Omid who has survived leaving his homeland, Syria says this to Kai. He speaks from a place of knowing the value of standing beside your fellow humans. He has seen and experienced more than anyone else his age should have to. 

When Shadows Fall, emotively touches on many important aspects relating to the lives of young people. These include opportunities, safety nets, a sense of community, the importance of mental health and the importance of green spaces for young people in cities. 

Sita feels that if there was one thing for her readers to take away from the novel, it would be 'Now's your time to play. (...) That is the energy on every page of this book'. Brahmachari also encourages young people to tell their own stories, because they do matter. 

Thank you for joining me on this part of the tour, if you found this an enjoyable read, I highly recommend that you check out Sita and Natalie's book, When Shadows Fall. Reader, you're in for a treat! :) 

*Thank you to @LittleTigerUK for this brilliant opportunity! 


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