This is my tour stop for the Hear Our Voices blog tour! I was lucky to interview the author of Your Heart After Dark, a YA contemporary mixed with paranormal!
Where did the inspiration come for YOUR HEART AFTER DARK?
A: I can’t talk about what inspired the story overall. It’s too complicated for me to discuss comfortably. But I can tell you that a lot of Maria’s experiences are things I’ve been through.
Do you see yourself in the characters you have written?
A: I think every writer sees bits of themselves in the characters they write. I see bits of myself in Maria and Ehmet the most, like how Maria’s experience with high school sports is ruined because of an ignorant coach, and how Ehmet comes from a family that’s faced severe religious persecution.
What are some of the messages you wanted to portray in YOUR HEART AFTER DARK?
A: Everyone comes to a story with a story of their own, so different people will take away a different message. I’d rather leave it open for interpretation at this point.
Some people expect me to answer these kinds of questions with “Oh, I was trying to fight the stereotypical Muslim girl narrative that white publishers keep promoting,” but my work was never inspired by ignorant white people.
I wasn’t trying to “prove” that Muslims can have other narratives. If you need Muslims to “prove” that we’re human just like you, go see a therapist.
What is it like writing a paranormal book and for future novels, would you write books based on other genres?
A: All my stories have some sort of fantastical or sci-fi element. It’s just what I enjoy writing and it’s what I read more of, too.
The companion series for YHAD is an urban fantasy, although currently I’m working on an unrelated YA fantasy inspired by ancient Kashmir.
Has becoming an author made you think differently of literature?
A: After becoming an author, I’m aware of what happens “behind the scenes” of a book. I’m aware of how a book gets into my hands, and of how other books are kept out of my hands. It’s made me a conscientious consumer.
It’s kind of like when you’re a kid, you love chicken but you don’t know how it gets on your plate. Then one day, you realize chicken = dead bird. I mean, it still tastes the same, but now you just… know.
How do you deal with the emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?
A: I don’t normally have trouble dealing with emotions while writing. When I write, it feels like I’m acting, like I’m writing a script.
I’m like that actress who puts fake tear drops in her eyes and delivers a heartfelt performance, but as soon as the director yells “Cut!”, she goes back to her boring self.
But things were different with YHAD. The emotion behind this story comes from a very real place, and I did that on purpose because I wanted it to be a therapeutic exercise, I wanted to face that emotional impact, and the very act of writing is what helped me deal with it.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
A: The biggest challenges I faced were personal, such as the state of my health. I’ve been dealing with bouts of severe illness for the last three years, and at one point, I thought I had lost the ability to write. I had “brain fog” which made it difficult to focus on long trains of thought. It weakened my mental organizational skills like plotting scenes and figuring out the sequence of events.
I’ve recovered a great deal but I’m not out of the woods yet.
Thoughts And More
If you’d like to buy this book, you’re in luck as it has been released on September 4th! Follow along on the blog tour schedule, here. Thank you for providing me this opportunity Hear Our Voices!