The JJJ Book Club is having a hard time putting Tahereh Mafi‘s new book “Ignite Me” down.
It’s so hard when the book is so good and you never want to put it down.
We had the opportunity to chat with Ms. Mafi about the newest installment in the series, her plans for the future of it, and more. Check it:
JJJ: Let’s start from the beginning: What initially sparked the idea for Juliette and the Shatter Me series?
TM: An image of a girl. I had been writing (and failing) for a long time before writing Shatter Me; every story I’ve ever written has started with a voice, an image, or both. For Shatter Me, it started with a very clear picture of a girl who, for some reason, appeared in my mind one evening as I sat down to write. I could see her very clearly: alone, terrified, curled into herself in a dark corner. All I knew about her was that she’d been locked up for a crime she didn’t intend to commit. So I opened up a new document and started writing, trying to capture her on paper. I asked questions about who she was, where she came from, and what must’ve happened to get her where she was, and slowly, the story of Juliette came to life.
JJJ: Did you know from the start how it would all come together, or is it something that progressed on it’s own over time?
TM: I don’t outline first books [in a series], because I like them to be fluid, dynamic, and a little unexpected. I like to discover the story as I write it. But once the world is fully established, I have to play within the confines of the world I’ve created, so the second and third books are very plotted-out and roughly outlined. When I finished writing the first book, I’d gotten to really know my characters; I’d gotten a look inside their hearts. It was important for me to know what was most important to each of them — and what would kill them to lose. And that’s when I knew how things would have to end.
(Click inside for the rest of our interview with Tahereh Mafi…)
JJJ: Juliette’s narrative is so much different than other YA protagonists with the way she repeats herself and crosses things out. What inspired you to write this way?
TM: I wanted to be true to the way she sounded in my mind. I’ve written nine manuscripts so far (only three of which have been published), and each story I’ve ever written has had its own very distinct voice. And Juliette needed a distinct voice. She was a girl on the brink of insanity — a girl who’d lost all sense of self-worth as well as her grasp on reality. She was broken and emotionally unstable, and I wanted to show this in the truest way I could. I knew it wasn’t right; it wasn’t the way books are supposed to be written; but it was also the first time I said screw it. Screw convention — I’m going to write this book the way it needs to be written. The prose evolves with Juliette — grows as she does. When she’s falling prey to insanity, lost in despair and crippled by insecurity, her thoughts are scattered, repetitive, disjointed, over-the-top and occasionally nonsensical. She draws wild comparisons, counts everything, writes things down and crosses them out: this is Juliette at her worst. But she slowly she picks herself up, finds her voice, learns to speak up, to defend herself — and when she finally stands strong, the prose stands strong beside her. I’m so, so proud of her at the end of the series.
JJJ: Where did the idea of writing from Adam and Warner’s perspectives for the eBooks come from?
TM: Me! Mostly. My publisher asked me if I would write some companion novellas for the series, and it sounded like fun. So I chose the POVs, and the time-period they would cover. It was important to me that the novellas be an active part of the Shatter Me timeline, and not prequels or bonus content. They felt more critical to the story this way.
JJJ: Juliette really comes into her own in Ignite Me. She takes on a role that I don’t think many readers will see coming. Did you always know she would become a leader?
TM: Yes. Always. From the very beginning. I’ve always had great faith in her.
JJJ: I think a lot of authors are asked this after a series is completed, but do you see any possibility for spin-off in the future?
TM: I’ll never say never, but I will say this: not now. Maybe one day!
JJJ: We’ve read comparisons between the Shatter Me series and The Hunger Games series – two VERY different stories, but also two young, female protagonists overcoming major personal and political obstacles. Is that exciting for you?
TM: It’s a huge, huge, huge compliment, because I am a diehard fan of The Hunger Games and Suzanne Collins, but it’s also kind of embarrassing, because I am a diehard fan of The Hunger Games and Suzanne Collins.
JJJ: Would you be open to seeing the Shatter Me series hit the big screen?
TM: Absolutely! Shatter Me was optioned by 20th Century Fox. (But I don’t think it’ll ever come to life.)
JJJ: Do you have a dream cast in mind, or do you try not to think about it?
TM: I definitely try not to think about it. Though I have a lot of fun seeing who the readers pick as their favorites.
JJJ: I love watching you interact (and tease!) your fans on Twitter. What’s it like having such direct access to your readers?
TM: I love it. I love them. I really love them. They’re so full of life, love, and enthusiasm for books — all books. My favorite kind of people.
JJJ: Any final words about the Shatter Me series?
TM: I’m so, so grateful to the readers of this series. They’ve stuck with me and these characters for three years now, and their love and support has been so tremendous, and so crucial to inspiring me to get to work everyday. These books are strange: a little different, a little upside-down, a little divisive. It is my great, great hope that my readers will find this a satisfying conclusion. Because I write these books for them.
Check back soon for a fun giveaway and the second part of our interview!