Saturday, February 14, 2015

0 Jasmine Warga, author of MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES, on fighting Shiny New Idea Syndrome

What was your inspiration for writing MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES?

As I state in the author's note in the back of the finished book, I began working on MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES after the death of one of my closest friends. And while the manuscript is a complete work of fiction (in no way based on me or anyone I know), I do think my grief served as a chief creative inspiration. 

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The ending was the most difficult for me to write. It changed so many times. I find endings to be very tough, both as a reader and as a writer. The scene that is the most special to me is Aysel's little brother's birthday party. It surprised me in the way it turned out, and I get emotional thinking about it because it reminds me of the deep bottomless love I have for my own little brother.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

Oh, I'm not sure. But some of my very favorite books that I would be honored to be considered readalikes to MY HEART are IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, and THE ELEGANCE OF A HEDGEHOG.

How long did you work on MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES?

Three intense months of drafting and one VERY intense month of editing.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

To not quit and jump to a different idea. To trust that the tangles will work themselves out. It's the first thing I've ever written where I was able to truly believe in that famous E.L Doctorow quote: "Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” 

What do you hope readers will take away from MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES?

That depression is a very serious and real disease but it doesn't have to be a terminal one. I also hope that the book may inspire readers to show more empathy, love, and understanding to others as well as to themselves.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

My road to publication for this specific book was a fairytale, thanks to my brilliant agent who I'm convinced is made of magic and miracles. That said, prior to signing with Brenda for this book and going on submission, my path had been rough, mostly because of my own terrible trait of abandoning projects before they were complete and not taking the time to really dig in and edit properly. I have so many manuscripts that stand stalled at 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 words. 

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

I sadly don't think so. I was anxious the whole way, and if I'm being really honest, I'm still pretty anxious. Writing is a constant struggle for me, but one that I feel so lucky to get to grapple with. What I have to keep reminding myself is to trust in the process and write faster than my own self-doubt, and I think that's something I discovered from working on MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I'm a morning writer and I like to work in my study at home that's painted a beautiful buttercream color. Usually both my dog and cat keep my company--my dog sleeping under my desk and my cat sitting on the perch beside the window. I like to light candles and for the room to be quiet. I'm deeply inspired by music, but I find it difficult to first draft to music because I get too distracted by the lyrics. Sometimes though if I'm really struggling, I'll play one song on a continuous loop.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Read widely and open your eyes and heart. The best writing comes from really feeling and observing things so take the time to do that. And try your best to fight Shiny New Idea Syndrome (<---that's advice that I need to take!). 

What are you working on now?

Another contemporary YA novel. I'm not purposely trying to be cagey, but I'm afraid of jinxing things by revealing any plot details right now, but I'm hopeful that I'll get the chance to talk about it very soon.


My Heart and Other Black Holes
by Jasmine Warga
Balzer + Bray
Released 2/10/2015

A stunning novel about the transformative power of love, perfect for fans of Jay Asher and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There's only one problem: she's not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel's convinced she's found her solution--Roman, a teenage boy who's haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner. Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other's broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together.

Purchase My Heart and Other Black Holes at Amazon
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Hi. I'm Jasmine. My first novel, My Heart and Other Black Holes, will be published in 2015 by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. I'm currently writing my second book which is tentatively scheduled to be published in 2016.

I like emotive music, animals of all sorts, and lemonade. And books.

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