Hello there Misfit Booknerds! It is indeed my pleasure to interview the amazingly talented Jasmine Warga and talk to her about her quirks and most especially her debut novel My Heart and Other Black Holes! Alright! Let's get it started!
If you can be stuck in another country or any city in the US besides your hometown, where would you like to be?
- Right now I’m going to say St. Lucia because it is freezing here and I’m desperate for some sunshine and warm weather.
Who is your fictional crush?
- Most recent fictional crush? Maven from Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN. All-time? Pacey from Dawson’s Creek.
What is your guilty pleasure?
- I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. I’m not embarassed of any of the media I enjoy, but I probably watch too much TV so I’ll go with binge-watching TV.
If you have a TV show you’d like to come back on the telly (not Netflix of course) then what will it be?
- Dawson’s Creek! I don’t know how that would work, but I want it. Also, I want a Sons of Anarchy prequel.
How was the #EpicReadsTour in the Harry Potter World?
- MAGICAL. AMAZING. It was seriously the best.
Who is the author you wish to work with if you are given the opportunity?
- Victoria Schwab or Nova Ren Suma. Both are brilliant and they write such genre-bending stories and I’d love the opportunity to get a glimpse into how their genius works.
Again, congratulations! My Heart and Other Black Holes is a literary success and my friends are starting to go crazy for it. As always, I want to ask, what initially made you write this story?
- Oh, I’m so glad to hear your friends are enjoying it! I initially started to write the book after the unexpected death of one of my closest friends and I woke up with Aysel’s voice in my head. But while my grief served as a chief inspiration, I think the book is ultimately about love (in all its forms, self-love, friendship, etc) and the true saving power of human connection.
Aysel is such an amazing but distraught character. And she has such an unusually honest voice. What would you say makes her different from YA characters that go through these stages of depression?
- I don’t know. I never like to play that comparsion game, but I do like to think that Aysel stands on her own as a fully-realized character. One thing that makes her very special to me is her Turkish heritage. I wanted to write about a person who had a similar ethnic background to me and the struggle and isolation she felt as a result of being “ethnically other” in a predominantly white community.
One thing I have also noticed while reading is the obliviousness of a lot of the characters on what Aysel and Roman's situation or rather if known are shoved in denial. How would you advise people on how they should be aware of the situation or how do we comfort people who go through these pains if their situation is made known?
- I think the most important thing is to work to de-stigmatize mental illness. If we do this, hopefully those who are struggling will feel more comfortable opening up about how they are feeling. Also, I would encourage people to be better listeners—to really hear what their loved ones are saying to them. Most of all, I think we all need to just work on being more empathetic and understanding of others, as well as of ourselves.
What do you think are the best things to do to cope up with depressions or instances of suicidal thoughts?
- Before I say anything, I want to make it very clear that I’m not a mental health professional, but to me, I think the most important thing you can do is talk to someone about how you are feeling—a friend, a trusted teacher, a parent, a therapist, anyone. I know that one of the most maddening things about depression is it can make it feel nearly impossible to express how you are feeling, but I truly believe that being completely honest about what is going on inside your head is the utmost important thing you can do.
This is your debut novel. Will you do a walkthrough for aspiring authors on how the process of getting your book out is done?
- Well, it’s a very multi-faceted proccess. The first step is to write the book and then edit it to the best of your ability. The next is to find someone you trust to read it and give you comments and then edit based on your feedback. Then you query, which is a process fraught with nerves and lots of waiting. And through querying, you will find your agent who is basically like your fairy godmother and she will show your book to editors who might possibly be interested. Then you wait to see what editors think, and if you cross your fingers that one of them will want to buy it. Once the book is purchased, you work with your editor to make the manuscript as strong as it can be, and with your copyeditor to make sure it is free of egregious spelling and grammar errors. Then the design team comes up with a cover and the book is sent out to early readers for feedback, and then you wait and wait and wait and then your launch day comes and you cry from happiness and gratitude. (That last step—the crying— is optional but that’s how it worked for me.)
Do you have any plans for a new book? Can you give as a peek on what you are working on?
- Ahhh, I am working on something new, but it’s in a very raw stage right now so I probably shouldn’t say anything about it. But I’ll tell you that in general it’s about the indie/alternative music scene, fandom, complicated female friendships, and forgiveness. I like to say it’s a love story that’s not a romance.
Any piece of advice for writers on how they can make their stories original? And do you have any messages to your fans?
- To answer the first bit of this, I would say to stop worrying about being original. I like to compare writing stories to playing songs on a piano—we have all have the same keys to work with, but there are an infinite number of combinations. For me, what’s more important than originality is honesty. Is this the type of story you’re interested in reading? Is this a story that’s burning to be told? If so, I think you’re on the right track and should definitely keep writing.
Thank you so much, Jasmine for being such a sport and for bringing your honest words over to my readers! You are an inspiration and I cannot wait for your new book! Follow Jasmine over at Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads for updates! Thanks so much Misfit Booknerds!