Gina Blaxill talks male allyship in You Can Trust Me


You Can Trust Me is a gripping YA thriller that looks head on at privilege, bias and sexual assault.

When Alana’s best friend is found drowned in a pool, the forensic reports discover date-rape drug GHB in her blood. GHB from a drink Alana knows was meant for her. Despite the swirling rumours, the suspected group of boys seem untouchable. To investigate, Alana allows herself to be pulled into their glittering orbit. But among shifting alliances, changing alibis and buried secrets, can she pinpoint which of the boys is responsible before she becomes their next target?

We had the honour of chatting with Gina Blaxill on You Can Trust Me. 


This is of course a very important story. Can you share with us when you decided to pen a novel with this theme?

I’m not sure there was any one moment where I made this decision. Leading up to plotting You Can Trust Me, I’d read a lot of things about feminism, violence against women and consent, and these were all in my head. Once I came up with the drink spiking side of the plot, that naturally opened up a lot of the novel’s themes – sexual assault, consent, complicity, bias and male allyship. So it was a pretty organic, ever evolving process. Books have an amazing ability to hold up a mirror to ourselves and society so if You Can Trust Me opens up important conversations, I’ll be well pleased.


What do you think boys should take away from You Can Trust Me on being allies and preventing rape culture? What do you think makes this book effective in guiding boys on this topic?

I absolutely think that You Can Trust Me can be read and enjoyed by boys as well as girls. In the book, there are a whole range of male characters – those who don’t see rape culture as wrong, those who don’t care, those who recognise wrong but don’t think they can change it, and those who slowly come to see rape culture for it is, and realise that as passive bystanders they’ve contributed towards its continuation. Most boys, I’d like to think, are in the latter two categories. I’d love the book to help open their eyes to the fact that not actively contributing to rape culture isn’t enough in itself – it’s only with their support that we can properly fight it. They do have a voice, and they can use it.
Being an ally is both simple and difficult, and I think You Can Trust Me acknowledges that, which I hope makes it an effective guide. Above anything else, though, it’s a pacy, exciting thriller that doesn’t come across as overly “preachy” – sometimes uncomfortable things can be more easily communicated when explored within very accessible fiction.

You mentioned in an article that being a parent helped you gain a parental perspective and write your parental figures in YA books better. How would you rate Alana’s mum in terms of whether she is doing enough?

I really feel for Alana’s mum. She’s in an incredibly difficult position – newly divorced, effectively a single parent to two teens who she’s relocated, and dealing with a new, demanding job as an ICU nurse which means she isn’t around as much as she could be. On top of that, she’s also trying to support her best friend, whose daughter is found unconscious and drugged at a party. Several times in the book Mum sits Alana down for a check in, to find out how she’s feeling and if there’s anything she wants to talk about. Unfortunately, this slightly hands-off approach isn’t the best one for Alana, who feels pressure to cope with everything in the same tough, almost businesslike way Mum does.
Overall, I’d say there’s a bit of a communication issue between Alana and Mum, coming from both sides – Alana is closer to her dad, and Mum isn’t used to supporting her this way. They’re on very different wavelengths. Mum could better recognise that, but Alana is also at fault for making assumptions. Overall, Mum is doing the best job she can in immensely difficult circumstances… which is maybe more than can be said for some YA parents!

Recently you posted on Instagram that every book (or at least, most) you have written has moments of “can’t do”. Which is the “can’t do” moment of You Can Trust Me?

Definitely getting the opening right. Originally, I had a mysterious prologue told from the point of view of an undisclosed female character, which led on to a terrible and very exposition-heavy scene where Alana chatted to her brother. I shared it on an online writing forum thinking it was pretty hot. The feedback was savage. The people critiquing were right – it sucked -but it knocked my confidence. I changed the start dozens of times after that, entering the story at slightly different points, and eventually got there – but it was tough!

There are many female characters in You Can Trust Me – from a near victim, to the perpetrator’s sister and girlfriend. Which character was the hardest to write / get into the headspace of?

Oh, great question! It’s always harder to get into the headspace of someone whose thought processes are far from my own (or, how I’d like to imagine mine would be if I was ever in that situation – because we never know, do we?) The hardest was probably Faith, who is the girlfriend of one of the boys Alana is most suspicious of. Her situation is complex and much of it isn’t shown on the page so it’s hard for Alana (and the reader) to understand why she sticks by a boy who may or may not have done awful things to girls.

It is easy to imagine that a victim would not want to befriend a perpetrator’s close ones. Why do you choose for them to know each other?

Mainly to make the story more claustrophobic, intense and emotional – three things thrillers thrive on. Alana starts the book as a new girl so there was a risk of her feeling detached from the other characters, something I didn’t want. Also, we hear so much about stranger danger and random attacks that it can be easy to think of sexual assault in particular as a crime mainly perpetrated by people unknown to the victims. That often isn’t the case, and I wanted the book to reflect that.

Congratulations on You Can Trust Me being selected as the first book of the Paper Orange UK YA subscription box! What do you love most about the UK YA community?

UKYA has its own unique voice. Readers deserve books that reflect their own experiences as teenagers in this country, with all the nuances and Britishisms we recognise. I’m not knocking USYA – so much of it is brilliant – but it dominates our marketplace and I find that sad. Perhaps because of this, the UKYA community is close knit, positive and full of people who really love books and want to boost them, which is fantastic. Just look at the support the wonderful Paper Orange UK boxes have received so far – it’s honestly so joyful. You Can Trust Me being in the first ever box was an honour!

Any UK YA novels on your TBR list?

Right now I’m lucky enough to have a few ARCs on my TBR – my next read is Amy Beashel’s We Are All Constellations which comes out later this year, and I have a proof of Toxic by Natasha Devon too. I also have some previously published UKYA to catch up on: Last Lesson by James Goodhand (I loved his second book – Man Down) and Midnight’s Twins, the first in Holly Race’s trilogy.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

where to buy viagra buy generic 100mg viagra online