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Tahereh Mafi, YA Author of “Shatter Me” Series, Goes on Tour

Tahereh Mafi, young adult (YA) author of the “Shatter Me” series, visited Naperville, Illinois, March 9 with husband Ransom Riggs, YA author of the “Miss. Peregrine” series, to promote the fourth installment of her series — “Restore Me,” out this month. The event was put on by Anderson’s Bookshop.

The “Shatter Me” series originally started as a trilogy in 2011 and was followed in 2013 with “Unravel Me” and the third novel in 2014, “Ignite Me.” Just this year, Mafi announced that the trilogy would be extended by three more books that would continue the same storyline, starting off with “Restore Me.”

Photo courtesy of Twitter

The “Shatter Me” series takes place in a dystopian North America under a military regime known as The Reestablishment that has split the world into sectors with supreme commanders ruling each continent. Secretly, there are handfuls of people all over the world who have superhuman abilities. Juliette Ferrars, a shy teenage girl, is one of them. She’s been locked away in an insane asylum for almost a year, slowly going crazy. Her ability? Touching her skin can kill you. The fourth installment picks up just weeks after the final book’s ending.

On a book tour for “Restore Me,” Mafi stopped at the Christian Community Church in Naperville to speak with and sign books for hundreds of her teenaged fans. She was joined for the first few stops on her tour by husband and author Riggs. The two took to the stage to answer audience questions and talk about her new book.

On worldbuilding:

MAFI

I don’t feel like I really have a focused [answer]. Some people, they make maps, you know? They have artists come in and design little 3D models for them. I feel like my answer is so underwhelming: I just type stuff in a blank page; do research; lots of googling; read books. Looking at our current state of events, even though it’s a dystopian novel.

On why Juliette and Warner alternate POVs in “Restore Me”:

MAFI

I get a lot of questions about this because a lot of people thought that the dual POVs were because I was going to kill someone off, like Juliette or Warner was going to die and only one of them could carry the POV. That does not happen — that’s not even a spoiler — Warner’s POV just helps me break open the world. Introducing Warner’s POV into these next books is sort of like a palate-cleanser at the end of each chapter. It becomes this contrast against Juliette’s voice and helps establish them even more clearly as different characters. They’re not going to die. At least, they haven’t yet.

RIGGS

I think fans and readers think that authors sit in their writing hole and just go “he he he.” We don’t enjoy [killing off characters].

MAFI

Some of them do. I’ve had those conversations with authors who are like “oh, I love it. I love just destroying their lives.” But not me! Not me!

RIGGS

They must have a lot of characters in their books because I don’t have a lot that I’d like to see dead. Even the bad ones, I don’t want to kill them. Like, hey I worked really hard creating that A-hole. I think the key is to make good stuff happen to the bad guys until you just can’t take it anymore and then something terrible happens to them. And vice versa with the good guy.

Photo courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

On how she knows when she’s done writing a book:

MAFI

I know my book is finished when my editor tells me I have no more time.

RIGGS

How do you know when your career is finished?

MAFI

When my editor stops returning my phone calls.

On what prompted her to try to get published:

MAFI

Insanity? Who knows. It can be so terrifying to put yourself out there, to open yourself up to rejection and also success, but with that, you never know. I amassed hundreds of rejections. I wrote six manuscripts before I wrote “Shatter Me.” I mean, it was a lot, there’s a lot of trying over and over and over again. It’s understandable why someone would not be certain if they wanted to do something like that. But I just really wanted to be published.

RIGGS

What she left out is that she wrote the six manuscripts in, like, 18 months while working a full-time job — just never sleeping — and she’d never written a book before or anything, so everyone she submitted just taught her something. [Mafi] taught [her]self to write by writing books and submitting them to agents and getting rejections and growing.

 

Mafi is currently on the last leg of her book tour, sans husband, with stops left in Los Angeles (March 18), Minneapolis (March 22) and Houston (March 24) for Teen BookCon. Mafi also announced she and Riggs would be attending BookCon this year, which will take place in New York City on June 2 and 3.

Mafi is also the author of the YA novel “Furthermore” which will be getting a sequel in the coming years. This year, in addition to the publication of “Restore Me,” Mafi will be publishing a semi-autobiography about a Muslim girl who loves to breakdance growing up in a post-9/11 world. The book, “A Very Large Expanse of Sea,” is loosely based off of her own life.

Alexandra Yetter

Columbia Chicago

Alexandra is currently a student at Columbia College Chicago where she is underway to earn a major in journalism with a concentration in news and features, as well as studying French language and culture. There is nothing she loves more than wandering around cities, curling up with a good book, and writing for hours.
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