"She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But . . . They are brother and sister.
Sixteen-year-old Maya and seventeen-year-old Lochan have never had the chance to be 'normal' teenagers. Having pulled together for years to take care of their younger siblings while their wayward, drunken mother leaves them to fend alone, they have become much more than brother and sister. And now, they have fallen in love. But this is a love that can never be allowed, a love that will have devastating consequences... How can something so wrong feel so right?"Interview with Tabitha
1.) How did you come up with the idea for Forbidden? Consensual incest was a subject I had wanted to write about for a number of years. I kept rejecting the idea because I thought there was a good chance the subject matter would never get past the gatekeepers. I was only able to take the plunge once I had built up confidence in my writing ability through my previous four books. I was inspired by the desire to write a tragic love story. It came down to incest by a process of elimination. I wanted the book to be set in contemporary London and I needed the two teens in question to be old enough for their love for each other to be taken seriously. But I quickly realised that (fortunately) in modern-day Britain there are very few - if any - obstacles that could keep a couple in love apart. Cultural and religious difference maybe, but if the couple were determined enough to go against their families' wishes, they could always run away together. I needed something that would be condemned by everyone wherever they went - a relationship that could never be and moreover, was against the law. 2.) Forbidden is an intense read, were any parts hard for you to write? Slowly transforming the sibling relationship into a romantic one was particularly tough. I had to try to make the reader believe that this really could happen. Writing the sexual scenes was also a challenge - I had to make sure that I made them realistic and not just glossed over whilst still somehow keeping them romantic. But the hardest part by far was writing the end. By then, I was so caught up in the characters and the story that it began to feel like I was writing a book about something that had really happened. In order to portray the characters' emotions convincingly, I had to experience them myself, which was really painful and frequently had me in tears. 3.) Did you do any kind of research before or during writing Forbidden? I got in touch with a wonderfully helpful woman at the Metropolitan Police who answered all my endless questions, both about the characters' legal positions and the details of what they go through at the end of the story. I was also very fortunate in that shortly after starting the book I caught two brilliantly-made television documentaries on the subject. I also found a couple of fascinating magazine articles about siblings who'd had consensual incestuous relationships during their teens. 4.) What are your own personal views on incest? I feel that consensual incest isn't as black and white as society at large seems to perceive it and I feel that there are cases and situations where consensual incest could be at least 'understandable'. I abhor the blanket dismissal of anything as 'wrong' without the close examination of individual case studies. I feel as disgusted as the next person at the idea of having any kind of vaguely romantic relationship with either of my brothers ... but what if my circumstances were completely different? What if my brother didn't feel like my brother? In that case who would I be hurting by having a relationship with him if he wanted one too? I think I actually became even more open minded about consensual incest during the writing of the book. I don't think it should be an imprisonable offence. However, I do think that it should be discouraged and that couples who find themselves drawn into an incestuous relationship should seek counselling and should not be allowed to have their own biological children as the risk of genetic defects is so high. 5.) You’re a UK based author, are any of your books available in other countries besides the UK? FORBIDDEN will be coming out in the US in June 2011. It is also being translated into Italian, German and Danish - these editions should be out in the next year or so. 6.) Out of all of your books do you have a personal favourite? FORBIDDEN has to be my favourite. It was by far the most difficult book to write and the most complex and sophisticated of my novels. I feel it is my greatest achievement to date. However, I do also have a soft spot for my very first novel, A NOTE OF MADNESS, about a musical genius suffering from manic depression. I have battled with depression all my life and in A NOTE OF MADNESS I draw heavily on my own experiences of the illness. 7.) Are you working on anything at the moment? If so can you tell us a little bit about it? My new book is called A TIME TO DIE. It's another book for older teens and is also about what some might consider a controversial subject: euthanasia. 8.) Why do you write for teens above all other genres? Strangely enough I never set out to write for teens. In A NOTE OF MADNESS, if you read the prologue, you might be able to tell it was intended initially for an adult audience. But then I found that because I was writing about teens, the book seemed more suitable for a teenage audience. I find myself drawn to writing about teenagers and about what some might call teen issues. Therefore my books fit better in the YA section. However I have had a great number of adults write to me to say how much they have enjoyed my books and I certainly don’t change my style or significantly simplify the vocabulary I use when writing for teens. 9.) If you could give Maya and Lochan one piece of advice what would it be? Don't lose hope. There is a way. 10.) What do you hope readers take away with them after reading Forbidden? That things are not always as black and white as they seem. That everyone is different and it is often too easy to dismiss something as disgusting or wrong. That in some cases, in some situations, something universally perceived as 'wrong' can actually be harmless. And that you don't choose your emotions, you don't choose who you fall in love with. I also hope the book makes people more open-minded and less judgemental and encourages readers to have empathy for others, particularly for those who are different, isolated or troubled and lead difficult lives. 11.) Describe Forbidden in 3 words. Tragic love story.Thank you for doing this interview for us Tabitha! Can I just say how excited I am for A Time to Die? It sounds right up my street definitely one to look out for and in the mean time I’m very excited to read some of Tabitha’s other books. Forbidden is available to buy in all good bookshops across the UK or online at The Book Depository here. To find out more about Tabitha, Forbidden or any of her other books visit her website and make sure you stop by to read my review of Forbidden on the blog!