Hello lovely people! Today on the blog, I have the very special and adorable Aminah Mae Safi, whose book This is All Your Fault came out on the 13th October, 2020. Set in the course of one day in an indie bookstore, three young girls come together to save the bookstore from collapsing.I got an opportunity to chat with Safi as part of the promotional blog tour for her book, thanks to TURN THE PAGE TOURS. So without further ado, let’s hop onto the interview. Hope you enjoy it!
1. What are some of your favorite books featuring bookstores and new found friendships?
Oh man, I can’t say that I’ve read a ton of books featuring bookstores, funny enough. But I’ve always loved stories about female friendship and girl gangs. I love the complexities of the friendships in Saving Francesca and I love the bonds of sisterhood in stories like Little Women.
2. What was your inspiration behind This is All Your Fault?
I was watching Empire Records, which is a great comfort watch of mine, when I realized that the POV characters were actually the boys, not the girls. I’d been re-watching that story so many times, but I’d filled in who the main story arcs belonged to.So I set out to write a story about three girls, each trying to save their dying local bookstore, instead of a dying record store. I grew up going to my local indie in Houston, Texas and I felt a great affinity for local independent bookstores in general.I wanted to celebrate that space and celebrate the moment where a group of could-be friends actually starts working together, rather than against one another, for the first time.
3. Did you always want to be a writer? Do you remember the first story you’ve written?
I did not always want to be a writer but I have always been writing. Which is a funny paradox, but a true one. The first story I wrote was a ghost story, where I made up my own lore about ghosts. Everyone had very fancy colored eyes, the way all great early fics seem to play out.The second story I wrote was taking a Camelot comic and changing all the speech bubbles so that Guinevere actually affected the plot. That took a lot of formatting and actual cutting and pasting but it was worth it, in the end.
4. Writing a story set in the course of a day, with multiple characters, seems like somewhat a task. What tips would you give to aspiring writers about writing multiple characters and giving them each unique personalities?
I start with character, so I’m always trying to dial in who each character is. I figure out who likes to swear and who copes with optimism and who copes with sarcasm. Those are good early markers that help.I’d also say, This Is all Your Fault specifically, I had to start out pretty organized. I made an outline that was just a single line for each chapter. But I had to know which POV that chapter was, which story beats moved forward, and what time it happened. That kept me from being able to go too far off the rails, when problems did arise.Sometimes, boundaries can be very helpful.
5. How do you plan your research and plot your story? What is the most difficult part, for you, about writing and plotting?
Research, to me, is a series of ongoing questions. So I tend to have more questions as I start, but the questions never really stop. I started out my training thinking I would be an academic and a professor, so the research is a pretty natural part for me at this point.There is always a point in drafting for me that is difficult. I know where I am going but I’m tangled up in the middle of where I am. I have a hard time letting go of the idea that my first draft needs to be perfect.I know intellectually, by the way, that no first draft is perfect and all it needs to do is exist.But right in the middle of writing it, I get this sort of existential dread about the whole story. It happens every time, and the only way out at that point is through.
6. How long did it take for you to write This Is All Your Fault? And how long was the publishing process?
As This Is All Your Fault is my third book, I sold it on proposal. So I started drafting it sometime in November of 2018. I turned it in April 2019. I think the first draft took about three or four months plus a few extra weeks to edit before turning the manuscript into my editor.Then we went through a few rounds of edits, and I believe the book was off to copy edits sometime that summer. July or August, if I remember correctly. So end to end, about nine or ten months, would be my guess.Publishing has a nice long tail, which I believe can be frustrating, but for me it’s nice that there’s so much time to tinker and get things right.
7. Who are some of your favourite female characters in literature? If you could live as a character in any fictional world, who and where would you choose?
I don’t think I could live as a fictional character, but I would love to chill out in the Shire for a while. Just rolling around in some meadows and eating six meals and drinking lots of tea.My favorite characters in literature? I love Catherine Moorland from Northanger Abbey and Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials and Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. Claudia Kinkaid from The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler. Amy March from Little Women.
Aminah Mae Safi | Website
Aminah Mae Safi is a Muslim-American writer. Safi was the winner of the We Need Diverse Books short story contest, and that story appeared in the anthology Fresh Ink. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her partner and cat. This Is All Your Fault is her third novel, following Not the Girls You’re Looking For and Tell Me How You Really Feel.TwitterInstagram
About This is All Your Fault
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Genres:Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Set over the course of one day, Aminah Mae Safi’s This Is All Your Fault is a smart and voice-driven YA novel that follows three young women determined to save their indie bookstore.
Rinn Olivera is finally going to tell her longtime crush AJ that she’s in love with him.
Daniella Korres writes poetry for her own account, but nobody knows it’s her.
Imogen Azar is just trying to make it through the day.
When Rinn, Daniella, and Imogen clock into work at Wild Nights Bookstore on the first day of summer, they’re expecting the hours to drift by the way they always do. Instead, they have to deal with the news that the bookstore is closing. Before the day is out, there’ll be shaved heads, a diva author, and a very large shipment of Air Jordans to contend with. And it will take all three of them working together if they have any chance to save Wild Nights Bookstore.
– Win a finished copy of This is All Your Fault
– Ends on: 19th October, 2020 at 12am
– Open to US residents only