INTERVIEW: Tashie Bhuiyan

Counting Down with You immediately made its way onto my TBR list as soon as I read the premise! I mean, fake dating with a protagonist of color and the school bad boy? I really enjoyed the book, and I’m happy to be talking with the author today. Counting Down with You releases May 4! In the meantime, read on for my interview with Tashie Bhuiyan about her love letter to young brown girls, some of her favorite releases this year, and which One Direction songs pair with this book!

counting down with you cover

A reserved Bangladeshi teenager has twenty-eight days to make the biggest decision of her life after agreeing to fake date her school’s resident bad boy.

How do you make one month last a lifetime?

Karina Ahmed has a plan. Keep her head down, get through high school without a fuss, and follow her parents’ rules—even if it means sacrificing her dreams. When her parents go abroad to Bangladesh for four weeks, Karina expects some peace and quiet. Instead, one simple lie unravels everything.

Karina is my girlfriend.

Tutoring the school’s resident bad boy was already crossing a line. Pretending to date him? Out of the question. But Ace Clyde does everything right—he brings her coffee in the mornings, impresses her friends without trying, and even promises to buy her a dozen books (a week) if she goes along with his fake-dating facade. Though Karina agrees, she can’t help but start counting down the days until her parents come back.

T-minus twenty-eight days until everything returns to normal—but what if Karina no longer wants it to?

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About the Book

First, describe your book in two sentences.

Counting Down with You is a YA contemporary novel that follows Karina Ahmed after her parents go abroad to Bangladesh for a month on a vacation. In their absence, she somehow gets roped into a fake-dating façade with the bad boy of her high school, Ace Clyde, and chaos ensues!

Where did the story of Counting Down with You originate?

The story originated around Karina! She was the first part of the story, and I built it up from her dreams. I think in general though, it came from the world around me and the experiences I’ve had and the experiences I’ve witnessed, and my desire to write a book that the younger version of myself would have loved!

You describe this book as a “love letter to young brown girls.” What did it mean to you to write a book with a protagonist that reflected yourself?

It meant so much to me! There’s so few books with Bangladeshi-American protagonists (I can count them on one hand), so I was so grateful that I was given the chance to publish this book. I never saw characters like me in the stories I read growing up, who faced struggles and situations similar to the ones I went through, so being able to do that for young brown girls is a dream come true.

What was your publishing path like?

Super unusual! Unlike most, mine went super fast. I was lucky enough that I received an offer of representation from an agent in 10 days and then an offer for a deal from a publisher in 16 days. It’s definitely not the usual, but I think it was a matter of the right time and the right place and the right story.

Do you make playlists for your WIPs? Can you share a few songs for CDWY?

ABSOLUTELY!!! I make a playlist for all of my WIPs. Some notable tracks on the CDWY playlist are:

About the Author

What were some formative YA novels for you growing up?

I leaned more toward fantasy growing up, so books like Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, The Young Elites by Marie Lu, Bloodlines by Richelle Mead, The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, and so on.

What are some of your favorite 2020 debuts?

My favorite was definitely These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong! Also enjoyed Tweet Cute by Emma Lord, You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson, and Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas!

What about any other releases this year?

I’m excited about Clues to the Universe by Christina Li, Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta, She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, and Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé!

Rapid-Fire Questions

Describe each of your characters in three words!

Karina is quiet, kind, and brave. 

Ace is private, thoughtful, and devoted.

What would be your characters’ favorite TV shows or movies?

Karina would love Bridgerton, Julie and the Phantoms, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast, Miraculous Ladybug, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Schitt’s Creek, Once Upon a Time, and She-ra and the Princesses of Power.

Ace would love The Punisher, Star Wars, Suits, Game of Thrones, Criminal Minds, Peaky Blinders, and The Good Place.

Match a One Direction and/or Harry Styles song with your book/characters!

Counting Down with You is very much: I Want to Write You a Song, Ready to Run, Fireproof, Strong, and Truly Madly Deeply.

What’s your favorite trope to read?

Found family!!! Best trope, hands down.

What was the last book you read?

I just finished reading The Bareknuckle Bastards series by Sarah MacLean. The second was my favorite!!!

tashie bhuiyan author photo

About the Author: Tashie Bhuiyan is a Bangladeshi American writer based in New York City. She recently graduated from St. John’s University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, and is an Author Mentor Match alum. Born and raised in Queens, she’s been a New Yorker her entire life and grew up in the city that never sleeps. As a writer (and avid reader), she’s used to not getting that much sleep anyway.

Since she was in sixth grade, she’s been attempting her hand at telling stories. Her first novel was an outstanding six pages. From the middle grade summers spent in the library, where her mother used to work, to the high school years spent in the hallways of Bronx Science writing thousands and thousands of words that will thankfully never see the light of day, she’s developed an intense passion for the written word.

Nowadays, she can be found in either a bookstore or a Chipotle in midtown rambling about the ten billion book ideas in her head (or the latest meme she happened to come across on Twitter) using a significant amount of hand gestures.

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