Happy Thursday and welcome to my interview with Syed M. Masood, author of MORE THAN JUST A PRETTY FACE! I’m so excited to share my interview with you today, plus more information about the book and author!
More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on August 4, 2020
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Danyal Jilani doesn't lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he's funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn't approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal's longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect.
When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man--a school-wide academic championship--it's the perfect opportunity to show everyone he's smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her...the more he learns from her...the more he cooks for her...the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face.
If you could trade lives with any YA character for a day, who would it be and why? What about a week? A month, year, or forever?
I’d probably be okay trading lives for a day with most non-protagonists in YA. I miss not being tired and I miss having the kind of energy I had when I was that age. I wouldn’t want to be a YA protagonist though. They go through a lot.
To be specific, I’d probably trade places with Hassan Harbish from John Green’s “An Abundance of Katherines.” That guy has Muslim parents that just let him take off on a road trip with this best friend and somehow manage not to make a literal federal case out of it. That’s the stuff of legend in my world. It’d be interesting to experience that.
I don’t think the answer changes over a month or even a year. I don’t know about forever. Being ourselves is exhausting. I can’t imagine how much work being someone else would be. I think I’m good.
What would you do if you spent the day with Danyal? Where would you go to eat, hang out, relax, etc.?
We’d probably do a food tour of San Francisco and the Bay Area to be honest. One of the best things about living near there is how much great food there is from everywhere in the world. We’d eat like hobbits, I’m sure.
If Danyal were to hang out with characters from other YA books, who would they be and why?
I think Danyal and this crew would get along really well with the characters from Katie Henry’s “Heretics Anonymous.” Obviously, that is set in a Catholic school and the characters in my book are Muslim, but I think they’d get along famously. They use different vocabularies but their life experiences, in some ways, are similar.
What was your favorite bit of research you ended up not using?
Mostly just either recipes or possible good places to eat. I mean, I did end up using those. Just not in the book!
What is your favorite quote, scene, or moment from More Than Just a Pretty Face?
I love Danyal’s speech at the end of the book. But my favorite moment, right before the speech starts, is when Bisma texts Danyal. That still makes me tear up a little.
Were there alternate endings you considered, or did you always know where the story was headed?
I don’t ever plot, so I can’t say I always knew where the story was headed. In a way, it was a surprise to me. But the story unfolded so naturally that I didn’t really consider any alternate endings. The way it came to a close was almost necessary given the flow of the narrative up until then. I just went with it and didn’t look back.
SYED M. MASOOD grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and now lives with his wife and children in Sacramento, California, where he is also a practicing attorney. He wrote a few couplets in Urdu when he was a teenager, and his family still tells everyone he is an Urdu poet. He is not. MORE THAN JUST A PRETTY FACE is his debut novel. Masood’s debut adult novel, The Bad Muslim Discount, will be published via Doubleday on November 17, 2020.
Have you added this amazing book to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!