It's a Match by Samantha Cheah


@Archaeolibrary, @SCheahAuthor,

#ScienceFiction, #Romance,

What would you do if you found out every major life decision you made had not really been your own?


Welcome to the 2030s, where big data is even bigger and everyone has an AIVA - Artificial Intelligence Virtual Assistant. Meet Sarah, who simply wants to find a boyfriend and her trusty AIVA, Delphi.


As a final year student in London, Sarah is the last single girl among her friends. Hoping to change that, she suffers through many failed dates, the ultimate Chinese parents setup, and even virtual speed dating. Exhausted, she eventually authorises Delphi to handle her online dating matches.


But when matches start approaching her in the streets, Sarah discovers that Delphi has been doing more than getting online dating matches for her. Her AIVA has been influencing major decisions throughout her entire life.

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4 out of 5 (very good)


IT'S A MATCH was an intriguing story from beginning to end, not going in the direction I thought it would, and oh-so-better for it!


Sarah is living in a world where AI is all around, reminding her of appointments and even advising on what to wear. Her friends all use it to one degree or another. Her love life is not what she wants it to be so she comes up with a crazy idea of using her AI to sort out her matches for her. This opens a can of worms that deals with just how much is too much, whilst giving an insight into the various supporting and main characters.


There is a lot here about being part Chinese (and other nationalities) but all living together in London. It was an insight into how their lives may be and what the perfect qualities in a partner might be. I say might because I'm not Chinese and so don't know for sure! Some of it seemed quite picky but I'm positive that part is 100% true from what I've heard from friends.


Told mainly from Sarah's perspective, it did throw me slightly when I would get someone else start up. My review copy didn't have any headings on the chapters, so it only became clear who was 'speaking' as the chapter continued.


An intriguing story that will have you question what is right and wrong. How much morality exists in AI? Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed it and have no hesitation in recommending it.


** same worded review will appear elsewhere **

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *

Merissa

Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

Personal

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi, my name is Samantha Cheah and I’m a third culture millennial who spent half my life in Hong Kong and half in the UK. I love to hike, crochet, travel and eat, and you’ll generally find me either out exploring or reading a book or binging a new series.


Do you have a day job as well?

My day job is actually still related to writing - I’m a blogger and freelance writer with a focus on travel, food, sustainability, and culture. I also do SEO (Search Engine Optimization) edits as well.


What was your favourite book as a child?

I have too many favourite books especially through the different stages of my childhood. I was obsessed with Darren Shan’s Circe de Freak and Demonata, then I started to read more widely and some of the books that really stayed with me is Exodus by Julie Bartegan, the Guardians of Time books by Marianne Curley.


When was that point in your life that you realized that being an author was no longer going to be just a dream but a career you were going to turn into reality?

I have always been scribbling stories since I was little, first in Chinese then in English when I moved to the UK. I think it was finding Wattpad and actually finishing stories on there with readers’ feedback and support that made me realize that I already am an author and I don’t need someone’s permission to be one.


What book do you wish you had written?

Definitely the whole Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo - I’m obsessed with the character developments, the world settings, and the intricate plots!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope to have more books published but I am my own worst enemy at keeping myself accountable and actually putting words down.


Writing

When did you start writing and when did you finish your first book?

My first book, or rather completed story, dates back to my early days on Wattpad. I think I started writing it around 2009 and finished within the year. It was a Teen Romance, a complete departure to the genre that I write in now but a good start. It makes me realize that I could finish a book and that it’s amazing when I can close the chapter.


How did you choose the genre you write in?

I’d like to think that the genre choose me but it’s probably because SciFi/Fantasy and dystopia is my favourite genre to read and to watch.


Where do you get your ideas?

You know how every time you watch or read something and have this expectation, and then the plot does something completely different? My brain likes to imagine what if something else happens instead?


Another source of inspiration for me is my dreams. I have really weird dreams that I try to remember and write down. I have a whole file dedicated to them, just waiting for me to explore deeper.


Do you ever experience writer’s block?

A lot! I’ve learned to plot better and to follow the seven common story structures to make it easier to write, but a lot of the time it’s what makes me stop writing.


Are you a planner or a pantser?

I’m a hybrid but leaning more towards a pantser. I like to free-write the background and the character backstories and then go from there. But some of my best ideas come from sudden realizations and just letting the story flow.


Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?

I actually have two completed manuscripts sitting on the dusty shelves of my computer. I’ve been querying one of them and meaning to get the other one a revision before querying again, but a lot of the time the theme just doesn’t work well into traditional publishing and that is an issue.


Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

It’s a Match is an amalgamation of my love for SciFi and my real life university and dating experience. I love reading but there are so little representation of Asian communities in fiction, especially for those who are third culture millennials like me. I do tend to borrow elements of my friends into characters since it makes it easier for me to imagine their reactions.


What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?

My favourite part of It’s a Match is the cumulation at the end when the characters confront their choices made under the algorithm’s guidance. The morality of AI and algorithms using big data is still unchartered and I think it’s important to address the different outlooks and different reactions people have.


How did you come up with the title?

It’s a Match started as a working title, but since I couldn’t come up with something better, I left it.


Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

My advice is to write. Your first draft is always going to suck a little, but then you can edit it. Make time, schedule time, block off time to write because otherwise, you won’t do it. Trust me, I’m that person.


Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamour to be heard over the others?

Definitely Wesley, he is the loudest and the most fun to write. I tend to be cynical and sarcastic in real life, and writing Sarah was a challenge because she’s kinder, shyer, and more reserved. Wesley was my outlet in scenes where Sarah was too nice to say anything.


What sort of writing environment do you create? I.e. music or not? Pen and paper or laptop/PC?

I’m very used to writing on a laptop now but I like to draft things out on paper, create a kind of mind map. But plotting on google sheet now is also great because it gives me a rough road map.


Do you read your reviews?

I do, usually with a heavy heart. The one thing to remember is that everyone will read into the book what they think, so a lot of the time it’s not about you but about them. And any feedback is good feedback.


Do you respond to them, good or bad?

I tend not to respond to reviews personally because it can come across as defensive and oftentimes, the person doesn’t actually want you to respond but only to leave their opinion out into the world.


What is your least favourite part of the writing or publishing process?

I thought it’d be the editing but turns out I hate proofreading the most - I can’t stand to read another word of the book for a few months!

Samantha Cheah is a pseudonym for Nam Cheak, a freelance writer based in Hong Kong who has written for National Geographic, GastroObscura, South China Morning Post, and her own blog, Laugh, Travel, Eat.


Born in Hong Kong, Nam used to scribble stories in Chinese. When she found Wattpad, an online platform for writers and readers, she actually began to finish writing her stories. Under the author name Shadow Cheah, she self-published a post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi trilogy - The Protectors of Earth Chronicles - which has garnered a combined 2 million views on Wattpad.


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