Ali Land Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Ali Land
Photo: Laura Lewis

Ali Land

An interview with Ali Land

Ali Land discusses her debut novel, Good Me Bad Me, and explores how her work as a mental health nurse influenced her writing.

What motivated you to enter the mental health field?

I wanted to become a mental health nurse because I wanted to know about people, the way their minds work, and the 'why's' that result from individuals' experiences and, most importantly, I wanted to help. I specialized in children's mental health because it felt like the right fit for me. Being able to use stories and play and the therapeutic conversations I was able to have with the adolescents will never leave me.

How did those experiences lend themselves to writing Good Me Bad Me?

It was actually one conversation in particular that formed the basis of Good Me Bad Me. I was working with a teenage girl when she disclosed to me that her mother had been involved in the serious harm of young children and she no longer wanted to live because she was afraid of turning into her. The notion of living with a parental legacy of evil haunted me. The burden this girl, and other children I looked after, carried, was so apparent. Was this girl right? Can the apple ever fall far from the tree? How much choice do we have about who we become? I let those questions marinate for over eight years and when I couldn't hold them in any longer, the first draft of Good Me Bad Me was born. It tore out of me in five months.

How do you respond to readers who might struggle with such a dark subject matter?

First and foremost, this book is a thriller and I wanted to take readers on a psychological journey into the mind of a girl whose mother did horrible acts. I didn't want to include any gratuitous details and I don't dwell on what Milly's mother did because I wanted to motivate readers to join in on a conversation about youth mental health, nature/nurture, foster care, social media, bullying and many other issues. I worked exceptionally hard on Milly's voice, trying to create a powerful, immersive experience that sweeps up the reader and carries them through the book and ensures that the story is Milly's. I actually only name the mother once in the whole book but most people miss it because their focus is on Milly, as it should be. I believe powerful messages can be conveyed through fiction, oftentimes in equally powerful ways as nonfiction.

What sort of emotional challenges did you face in writing this book? Bringing Milly to life was a privilege but it definitely came at a cost. (I barely slept during the writing of my first draft.) Milly's voice was a powerful force to channel and required me to delve into the darkest parts of my imagination and spend prolonged periods of time in isolation. Initially, I found it hard to talk about the book without crying. I worried I might further isolate children like Milly by using the medium of a thriller to push the nature/nurture debate. I strived really hard to write Good Me Bad Me in a way that ensures it's thrilling enough so readers have to keep turning the pages, but moving enough so they want to discuss it afterwards.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Educated
    Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Voted 2018 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Tara Westover had the kind of ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Voted 2018 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Towards the end of Madeline Miller...
  • Book Jacket: Children of Blood and Bone
    Children of Blood and Bone
    by Tomi Adeyemi
    Voted 2018 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    What would you do if, in a ...
  • Book Jacket: Where the Crawdads Sing
    Where the Crawdads Sing
    by Delia Owens
    Voted 2018 Best Debut Novel Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Where the Crawdads Sing was a ...

See all Award Winners & Top 20

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Winter Soldier
by Daniel Mason

A story of war and medicine, of finding love in the sweeping tides of history, and of the mistakes we make.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Ladder to the Sky
    by John Boyne

    A seductive, unputdownable psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The 7 ½ Deaths of
Evelyn Hardcastle

"Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day...quite unlike anything I've ever read." - A. J. Finn

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.