UKYA FORTNIGHT: Interview with Natasha Ngan, Author of The Elites

I’m so excited to have Natasha Ngan on the blog today. The Elites has got to be one of my most antipicated reads of 2013 and I’ve already pre-ordered it. You can read an extract of it here and should definitely pre-order it like I’ve done!
1. Hi Natasha! Welcome to Queen of Contemporary! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your novel, The Elites?

Thanks for having me Lucy! I’m a half-Chinese, half-English girl who grew up living between Malaysia and England. I studied Geography at university as I’m fascinated by cultures, and so many of my story ideas have come from my course studies. I currently work as a freelance social media consultant in London, a blogger (I run fashion and lifestyle blog Girl in the Lens with my boyfriend), and of course an author! The last is obviously my favourite 😉
The Elites is my debut novel, a standalone YA sci-fi. In a city in the future where no one ever enters, and no one leaves, Silver, a fifteen-year old girl who works as an Elite to guard the city’s leaders, is about to discover just what is outside the city’s walls. And as the dirty truths about her city begin to reveal themselves, she has to search deep within herself for the strength to fight against all she has ever known …

2. Can you name your five favourite UKYA novels?

There are hundreds, but here are the first five that came to my mind – the entire Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve, The Nation by Terry Pratchett, everything Patrick Ness, Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, and of course, Harry Potter.

3. In your opinion, how do UKYA novels differ from novels written by foreign authors?

I think that coming from such a small, intensely multicultural and socially diverse country, our books tend to be more diverse, challenging, and sometimes downright weird than those from across the pond. There’s often a quirky streak running through our YA novels that I don’t see in US YA, for example (see Philip Reeve and Patrick Ness, and even Harry Potter), and our characters can be very conflicted, very flawed.

4. How do you think your Britishness comes across in your writing? 

The city in which The Elites is set in, Neo-Babel, is intensely multicultural, and I think that although my own background as being mixed-race and living between two countries definitely contributed to that, a large part of my interest in how cultures interact in a small space comes from living in the UK. There’s also a touch of whimsy and weirdness to some of the settings and characters in The Elites, which I like to think is influenced by my Britishness! We are a funny bunch.

5. If you could have written any book by another UKYA author, which book would it be?

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is just astounding, so I’d have to go for that. How so much emotion and power can be packed into so few words, I’ll never know.

6. Sum up UKYA in five words.

Intelligent, quirky, diverse, challenging, underappreciated.

7. What’s next for you?

I’m writing my second book for Hot Key which will come out next Autumn (given that they like it! Eek!), The Memory Keepers. It’s about a future where memories are traded as commodities. One boy – Seven – and his unlikely companion discover a memory about him that reveals a past he never knew he had, and together, they try and figure out what it all means before Seven is discovered by those who want his secret for themselves.
I’m really excited about The Memory Keepers. It’s set in a futuristic London, which will be a wonderful setting to share with readers, especially those unfamiliar with the UK. I’m also working on another novel, the start of a YA urban fantasy series, and that takes place in Cambridge, so there’s loads of exciting UK settings in my novels to come 🙂
Quick Fire Round:

Favourite non-UKYA novel? Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Favourite TV show? I’m a sucker for US prime time – Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, Homeland etc.

Favourite comfort food? Popcorn. No, chocolate. No, crisps. How about all three at once?

Favourite place to write? Anywhere that’s quiet and comfy. But if I could afford to, I’d get a pretty little villa in Ibiza or southern France as an office.


Natasha Ngan was born in St Albans, Hertfordshire, and spent her childhood in both the UK and Malaysia, where the Chinese side of her family is from. She also spent it living in two other worlds – reality, and her imagination. As an only child, books were her best friends, and though she now has real, physical, human friends, books are still every bit as important to her.

Natasha has always (only) wanted to be an author. THE ELITES is her first novel, and she regularly blogs about her experiences of being a debut author. Outside of writing YA fiction, Natasha works as a freelance social media consultant and runs a fashion and photography blog with her boyfriend Callum ( Follow Natasha at: or on Twitter: @girlinthelens

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  • Reply
    Zoe Crook
    17 July, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I am SO excited for The Elites! It is definitely one of my most anticipated reads too. Noughts & Crosses and Harry Potter are both amazing UKYA 😀 I really need to read some Patrick Ness!

    Great interview, Lucy and Natasha 🙂

  • Reply
    Sam (Realm of Fiction)
    17 July, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    It makes me so happy when authors actually incorporate multiculturalism into their books. And I agree with Natasha about UKYA books. We do have a diverse group of characters and themes. I can’t wait to read The Elites. Great interview! 🙂

  • Reply
    17 July, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    This was a grea interview! I totally agree with Natasha’s word choices to sum up UKYA! I cannot wait for The Elites to be released

    Cait x

  • Reply
    17 July, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    The Elites looks so great! I really cant wait for it either. I really love this interview! 🙂

  • Reply
    17 July, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Awesome post! Natasha’s book sounds so interesting. I’m loving UKYA Fortnight!

  • Reply
    19 July, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Great interview! I’ve already seen this around vaguely but now I need to get it!

  • Reply
    Amber @ The Mile Long Bookshelf
    24 July, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    I’d never heard of The Elites before but I’ll have to check it out, as there is certainly a lot of hype about it. Great interview!

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