After reading Like A Love Song, I knew I had to interview Gabriela Martins. Talk about a book where I loved every minute. Being able to interview Martin was such a pleasure and I’m so happy to bring this interview to you!
About Like A Love Song
Fake boyfriend. Real heartbreak?
Natalie is living her dream: topping the charts and setting records as a Brazilian pop star…until she’s dumped spectacularly on live television. Not only is it humiliating—it could end her career.
Her PR team’s desperate plan? A gorgeous yet oh-so-fake boyfriend. Nati reluctantly agrees, but William is not what she expected. She was hoping for a fierce bad boy—not a soft-hearted British indie film star. While she fights her way back to the top with a sweet and surprisingly swoon-worthy boy on her arm, she starts to fall for William—and realizes that maybe she’s the biggest fake of them all. Can she reclaim her voice and her heart?
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Did you ever consider a career in singing? Or acting?
It’s so embarrassing to say this, but YES. It was my dream as a child to act — though honestly, I’m a little glad I never pursued it, past school plays. I don’t think I’d be able to deal with fame in any form. There’s something so terrifying about everyone knowing who you are, everyone getting a say in whether you are good enough, you are worth the good things you have, and the legions of haters to pair the fans. Even though while being an author we also have a public persona, it’s toned waaaaay down. Nobody will recognize you on the street or take pictures of you when you leave for a coffee in pajamas and dirty hair. I am absolutely not built for fame. I do love singing, though! I used to participate in an art group in my community where we’d perform plays to raise funds for charity and I was also part of the band as a singer. Unfortunately, we stopped due to the pandemic.
One of the things that most deeply resonated with me is Natalie’s struggles with her identity, can you talk about how it was to write that journey?
There are two answers to this. They’re both true, but one is easier than the other. The easy answer is that I have two cousins that I love very much, one in Newark in the United States, and the other in London in England, and they both struggle with their Brazilian identity having grown up in countries that do not value Latinidade, feeling like they weren’t enough of one thing or the other. That is true. But there’s also a more difficult answer to this, which is that I also (still) feel like Nati, looking from the outside in a large culture that has no space for me. My situation is different from hers: I’m Brazilian, I was born and raised in Brazil. But it is difficult to seek community in Latinx spaces when they’re catered exclusively to Hispanics 99% of the time. I have lost count of how many times I was asked about my “abuelitos” or called Hispanic myself. Not to mention how many times people have started talking to me in Spanish with the assumption that I could keep up, even though only 4% of the Brazilian population speaks Spanish. Opposed to 7% of English speakers. So it’d be safer to walk up to a Brazilian on the street and speak to them in English than Spanish, almost twice so. All of these situations described above come from people from my community, so that’s what hurts the most. It’s been a decade of brushing this off, and I felt that with Nati I could fully explore the feelings of otherness I had trying to feel part of a bigger group and own my Latinidade.
What songs do you think best reflect LIKE A LOVE SONG?
Olivia Rodrigo’s “Brutal” came out while eARCs were already being sent, but I swear that song is perfect for the book.–
Did William go through any major changes throughout the drafting process?
Absolutely none. From the mole under his eye to his affection for socks, he’s probably the one thing that stayed the same from first draft to publication. –
What are some of your favorite fake dating stories?
Adiba Jaigirdar’s “HANI AND ISHU’S GUIDE TO FAKE DATING” is my #1.
I loved how you explored this line between real and fake throughout LIKE A LOVE SONG, can you talk about the inspiration for this story – specifically the fake dating?
I’ve always been interested in the line between real and fake. I think we’re constantly making choices about which parts of ourselves we show to people and even to ourselves, and it’s easy to get yourself lost in the blurred lines of what’s just untold and what’s simply not there. With Nati, I had the opportunity to explore what it feels like to feel like a fake in a deeper sense — and I will continue to explore this from another angle in my next book! — as she is a celebrity. Fake dating is just all the good parts about this doubt of what’s real and what’s not, maybe because we know from the get-go what they don’t: that it is real, and they’re falling for each other! I love this trope above all because it lets us skip the early stages of interest and go straight to the relationship, without the characters having built the intimacy for that yet. So tons of awkward moments, my favorites to write about!!
Was LIKE A LOVE SONG always called the same thing?
No, actually, the original title was You Can Call Me Nati, and it stayed that until after it was sold. Only then our editorial team started suggesting alternatives that could give readers more of the romance vibe right off the bat. Since music plays a big role in the story, the idea to have a popular song as the title came from my editor. I loved Like A Love Song and we ran with it!
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 to present. 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. Her YA romances, LIKE A LOVE SONG and BAD AT LOVE, come out summer 2021 and summer 2022 (Underlined/PRH). Find her on Twitter at @gabhimartins, on Instagram at @gabhi, and visit her website at gabrielawrites.com.