It’s June and that means it’s time for another year of Pride Month spotlights! I’m so excited to spotlight Bad at Love by Gabriela Martins and share the interview with the author!
Welcome Gabriela! Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?
Hi! Thank you so much for having me. I’m Gabriela Martins, and I’m a Brazilian author writing about Brazilian kids finding themselves and love.
How would you describe Bad at Love in one sentence?
YA “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days”, but queer and Brazilian.
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of Bad at Love?
Absolutely! Daniel (a.k.a. “Rotten”) is a guitarist born and raised in the south of Brazil, in Curitiba. He’s quiet and shy, and before his life changed completely by being picked to star in an American music reality show, he already found it hard to speak up. After moving to North America, though, he’s been labeled as a bad boy for a series of misunderstandings, so he finds it impossible to show who he really is, either to the people around him or, God forbid, the public. So he plays along with the player persona even though he’s never been kissed.
Sasha is a quick-witted teenager who’s always dreamed of becoming a music journalist, but knows that the best that’s in store for her as a LA resident is snapping pics of celebrities to sell to tabloids. It’s the summer before her senior year and she’s more or less come to terms with the fact that she can’t afford college. Until… her boss at a tabloid suggests she uses Rotten to dig the dirtiest dirt on him, and exposes him to the public, skyrocketing the online traffic of the magazine.
What representation will readers find in Bad at Love?
Daniel is a white Brazilian, and he’s demisexual. Sasha is a brown Brazilian-American, and she’s pansexual.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
I typically start with characters, not stories, so in this case I started with Daniel. I really wanted to write a book about a fake bad boy, but I didn’t know at the time why there’d be this misconception about him, or what would be his opposing force. Naturally, his opposing force came in the form of Sasha, someone with the exact opposite agenda of him. As they meet, Daniel gets into a bet with his bandmates to date her all summer so his song makes it into their debut album, and Sasha vows to expose how bad Daniel really is to the world. As soon as I knew who they were, I knew how I wanted the story to end, to the exact scene. But I rewrote the beginning and middle completely twice to get there!
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
I’m really really really into a scene from the end of the book. It’s spoiler-y so I’ll keep the details to myself for now, but you’ll know exactly which one when you get to it. [winks]
What is something readers will find in Bad at Love that they may not realize based on the synopsis?
A journey to finding yourself and honoring who you are—like I think is at the core of any of my books. With my debut, LIKE A LOVE SONG, I explored outside expectations affecting our view of self, and with BAD AT LOVE, I wanted to play with the idea of us against ourselves. I adore Daniel and Sasha because they’re both at odds with themselves. Daniel wants to speak up about who he is, but he’s introverted and a foreigner who speaks English as a second language. Sasha wants to let herself be vulnerable and fall in love, but she’s afraid she’ll make the same mistakes as her mom and college is a priority for her. Although there are some antagonistic characters in the book, there aren’t really any villains. Daniel and Sasha have to learn to achieve what they want, while still honoring who they are.
What’s something you hope readers will take away from Bad at Love?
I wrote this book for speakers of English as a second language. Like Daniel, I used to be terrified of misusing words, making grammar mistakes, and having my accent be commented on. It can be extremely alienating to interact with others when your means for communication is always under analysis. I always hope people find joy in my books regardless of background, but I would especially hope that speakers of English as a second language know that their voices are always needed, with the right prepositions or not.
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed Bad at Love?
XOXO by Axie Oh, Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee, and of course Like A Love Song by yours truly!
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
It’s a really exciting time, but I’m afraid there’s not a whole lot I can say for now… Just that it will be something very different from what you already know, but still unapologetically Brazilian and identity-centered. Oh, I can’t wait to share more!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Ever since Daniel moved to L.A. from Brazil to join the band Mischief & Mayhem, he’s become the tabloids’ bad boy. Paparazzi follow him and girls swoon over him . . . except for Sasha, who hates bad boys. When a chance encounter brings them together, Sasha sees an opportunity to get close to Daniel and write a story that will make a name for herself at the celebrity gossip magazine where she interns. But Daniel is surprisingly sweet and extremely cute—could she be falling for him?
The truth is: Daniel is hiding something. When Sasha discovers his secret, will she follow her heart or deliver the hottest story of the summer?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gabriela Martins is a Brazilian kidlit author and linguist. Her stories feature Brazilian characters finding themselves and love. She was a high school teacher and has also worked as a TED Ed-Club facilitator, where she helped teens develop their own talks in TED format. She edited and self-published a pro-bono LGBTQ+ anthology (Keep Faith) with all funds going to queer people in need. When she’s not writing, she can be found cuddling with her two cats or singing loudly and off-key. Gabriela is the author of Like a Love Song.