Tuesday, October 18, 2011

40 Tahereh Mafi on the Road to SHATTER ME

Today we have an interview with the amazing Tahereh Mafi, who was one of the first people Marissa and I met while blogging. She had this incredible blog, and this wonderfully generous nature, and a brilliant sense of humor. So it is no surprise to anyone when she got a HUGE book deal, for a book that we all can't wait to see out in the world. She deserves so many good things! Read on for her interview, and a chance to win a copy of the hardcover.

Q) How did Shatter Me happen, from idea to deal?

SHATTER ME started as little more than a voice in my head. I just heard this girl -- I could see her in my mind -- trapped, locked up somewhere. I knew she was scared and afraid to speak and that she'd been locked up for something she never meant to do. That's really all it took for me to start writing it all out. I followed her voice, allowed her character to develop and open up to me -- to tell me what her story was and where it would go.

It always sounds crazy, talking about the voices in our heads, but really, that's how it happens. I just listen to the imaginary people living in my brain and wait for them to tell me what to do.

Once I had a finished, polished book in my hands, I set out to find the right agent for it, and Jodi took over from there. It's been a lot of fun. :D

Q) If you could offer one piece of craft advice to other writers, what would it be? What most made the difference for you in writing a "big book?"

This was the first manuscript wherein I'd ever truly allowed myself to let go. To allow my mind to dictate the story; to be unencumbered by what I was conditioned to believe was the "correct" way to write a book. I didn't think about whether or not it would be a "big book" -- I had no idea whether or not it would sell at all -- and I certainly didn't plan for it to amount to much more than a transcription of the story trapped in my head. And I think it's in those moments -- when we grant ourselves the freedom to let go, to surrender completely to the characters, to the passion for painting pictures with words -- it's in those moments that we write from the truest parts of ourselves. That's the only advice I could ever give a fellow writer: don't think about creating the Next Big Thing.

This industry is so subjective; a book you hate is a book someone else loves and a book that made you want to sing from the rooftops is a book that made another want to fling it at the wall. You'll never be able to please everyone. So don't try to.

Q) What was the biggest "aha" moment of your road to publication?

The minute I learned to be okay with things outside of my control, everything became easier.

Publishing is a business, and we tend to forget that sometimes, because writing is such an intensely personal experience.

But learning to accept very little from everyone but myself really gave me peace. I focus on my own work, and everything else is extra. The good things are unexpected delights; the hard things will hopefully serve to make me stronger. But at the end of the day, my job is to write the best book I can.

That's it.

Q) What craft books or workshops would you recommend to other writers?

I've never actually read a book on craft, or attended a workshop on writing, so I don't know what that's like. I can only recommend that writers read books. All books. All kinds of books. Good books. Bad books.

Read within your genre, read outside of your genre, read magazines, DVD packaging, the backs of cereal boxes; read street signs and song lyrics.

Read poetry and memoirs and history books and picture books and romance novels and instruction manuals. Read everything. Inspiration is everywhere, and your writing style will develop as a result of what you read and learn to love and hate. You'll learn to write by reading a lot and writing a lot and doing that over and over and over again. That's it.

Workshops are great, and craft books are great, but the only way to learn is to try, to be ready to fail, and then to fail, and then to try again and again until it works. Don't be afraid to fall flat on your face; don't be afraid to write a bad book; don't be afraid to be a failure and don't be afraid to be a success. Because each attempt is a learning experience in and of itself; your efforts are never ever wasted.

So just let go. Write what feels right even if it's all wrong and keep doing that forever.

<3


SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi

From Goodreads:
Click to Pre-order
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

Sounds great, right? Want to read it? Enter below by November 15th (release day) and you could win a copy. U.S. and Canadian entries only.

40 comments:

  1. Tahereh, I love your answer to the second question. Getting caught up in what we're condition to believe is 'correct' or 'valid' can totally stifle creativity. Thank you for reminding me of that. You truly are a star, sweetie. I'm thrilled for you and your success!

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  2. Great interview! I can't wait to read this book

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  3. You didn't read books on the craft, but you immersed yourself in story, and I think that's such an important thing. Congrats on your book deal!

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  4. Great interview, it is always interesting to hear the journey from story to publication. I can not wait to read Shatter Me!

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  5. Great interview. I love how things fell into place for her once she let go. Which means her ability to write an awesome book was completely intuitive! And yes yes yes to the reading--that is absolutely the best way to learn.

    I can't wait for this book!

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  6. I agree that trying too hard to write the "right" way or within the so-called rules can be really stifling. It's great to hear that letting go brought out the best in someone!

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  7. GREAT points, Tahereh. We can totally mess ourselves up if we try to write for other people or the market. Not everyone will like our books! It's so subjective. Good for you, for writing your book the way it wanted to be written--looks like it worked out well! Congrats. :)

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  8. Am I allowed to enter? I can't WAIT to read this book. Tahereh constantly amazes me. I love her interview; she always knows the right thing to say. I agree 100%

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  9. I love it when good things happen to good people, and this is one example. I love her as a person, and I'm sure I'll adore her book. Thanks, guys!

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  10. I've been following Tahereh since she syarted blogging. Such a great interview. I'm so excited for her book.

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  11. So looking forward to reading this book. She is such a charismatic woman.

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  12. This interview really makes me want to read the book. Great insights into writing and gripping concept for a story.

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  13. I love Tahereh's blog. She's such an inspiration! I'm really excited to read her book.

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  14. Thank you for telling us to just let go and write sometimes. I know that I, for one, and guilty of overthinking it sometimes.

    I am SO excited to read Shatter Me!

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  15. Awesome interview - the book sounds phenomenal!

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  16. So excited for this book, and Tahereh is such a sweet person! Enjoyed hearing about the journey behind Shatter Me.

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  17. I've been waiting to read this book for what seems like ages!! Tahereh is such a sweetie!!! Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

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  18. Letting go of that control is so hard, but I think it's a necessary step. There's too much outside of our control for sure!

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  19. I've been following Tahereh's blog for a few months. I cannot wait for this to be released. I'm so uber excited for it!

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  20. I have been dying to read this since the first review I read! I can't wait for Shatter Me to be released!

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  21. I can't wait to get my hands on this book. All other books will have to wait for me to read it. :D

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  22. Awesome interview and giveaway! I've learned a lot by failing I know that the first book I've ever written is totally a book of suck when I look at it now but it got me to complete a book! I felt accomplished, even though NO ONE will ever see it!

    I've been wanting to read SHATTER ME ever since I heard about it! I can't wait for the book to come out!

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  23. Reading really is the best way to learn about writing!

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  24. This book sounds so good! Congrats on the release,.

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  25. Yes! I have had this on my TBR list and I love the description. There is a huge buzz online that this is a fabulous book and I cannot wait to read it.

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  26. Ladies, I've been wanting to read Shatter Me since I first heard about it, mostly because I love Taherah on Twitter. Her personality is so spectacular and unique, I know her book has to be too. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until Shatter Me hits the libraries due to an abysmal lack of ready cash...unless I can win a copy (hint) lol. Thanks for the interview. Tahera's definitely a breath of fresh air.

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  27. Taherah is such a cool author! Her book will sure be number one! Can't wait to read it!

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  28. I've heard so much about SHATTER ME recently and I absolutely cannot wait to read it. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!

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  29. This is gorgeous: "But learning to accept very little from everyone but myself really gave me peace. I focus on my own work, and everything else is extra."

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  30. Shatter Me sounds awesome! good luck with it.

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  31. Thank you so much! I cannot wait for SHATTER ME to hit the shelves!

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  32. Great interview! Reading Shatter Me for Shatterday right now, loving it!

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  33. Great interview! I'm definitely intrigued by this novel.

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  34. I love how simple and practical Tahereh's advice is. Thank you!

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  35. Excellent advice for anyone writing their first book! I have seen a ton of excellent reviews for Shatter Me and I can't wait to read it for myself.

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  36. Ooh, can't wait to read this. I love hearing the stories behind the books. Thanks!

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  37. This sounds like an awesome book. Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

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  38. I am so looking forward to this book. I have followed her blog for over a year now and she is brilliant. Great interview and thank you for the opportunity to get my hands on it.

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  39. I can't wait for this release. Anything that references back to X-Men is a no-brainer for me. Wonderful interview. Congrats Tahereh!

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