A Conversation About Author Tahereh Mafi
Kami Garcia is the co-author of the bestselling Beautiful Creatures Novels and Unbreakable. Ransom Riggs is the author of the bestselling Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Kami and Ransom got together to talk about Tahereh Mafi, and her new novel Unravel Me.
Ransom Riggs: You are doing a mash-up of your book/series and the Shatter Me series. What’s the title?
Kami Garcia: I would have to go with Beautiful Unraveled Creatures or Unbreakable Me. For your book, it would have to be Miss Peregrine’s Home for Shattered Children.
KG: Describe Tahereh’s novels in one word. You have five seconds…
RR: Adam or Warner. Five seconds…
KG: I only need one second --Warner. People will have to read Unravel Me to find out why.
KG: Between you and Tahereh, who would win in a race?
RR: Tahereh, because she has an amazing collection of shoes, and I’m pretty sure at least one pair has rocket engines in the heels.
RR: Let’s get serious – at least as serious as the two of us can get. It seems like a new dystopian novel is published every day now. What made the Shatter Me series stand out in the crowd for you?
KG: When Shatter Me opens, Juliette is in a cell, and she hasn’t spoken to or touched another person in 264 days. Tahereh had me right there. I hadn’t seen that before, and all I wanted to know was why can’t she touch anyone? Once that question was answered, all I wanted to know was how is Juliette going to get out of this prison and save herself -- and oh, who is this incredibly hot guy, Adam? Every time one of my questions was answered, there was another question waiting. Until three o’clock in the morning when I finished the book, and desperately searched online to find the release date for the sequel.
KG: One of the things that struck me most about Shatter Me & Unravel Me is Tahereh’s writing style. I read a lot of books, and her voice is so unique. It sucked me in immediately, and I felt like I was part of the story. What aspect of the novels stood out to you?
RR: The emotion that radiates from every page. Juliette goes through Hell and back in these books, and though there’s a lot of really compelling action, Tahereh always keeps the reader focused on what Juliette is feeling through it all – and this character feels things very intensely and deeply. Juliette’s inner voice is like nothing I’ve read before.
RR: I know you believe in “the curse of the sequel.” How did Unravel Me measure up?
KG: The curse of the sequel is when a mind-blowing novel is followed by disappointing sequel that do not raise the bar in terms of the writing, plot, or characters. Often it’s a sausage link -- a book that functions as a bridge between the book one and three, with no story arc of its own. Tahereh broke the bar with Unravel Me. She answers questions raised in Shatter Me, while seamlessly introducing a new plotline that ratchets up the stakes, action, and romance for Juliette, Adam, Warner – and the reader.
KG: Who is your favorite character from the Shatter Me series?
RR: Maybe it’s a cop-out to say this, because everyone’s always choosing between Adam and Warner, but my favorite character has to be Juliette herself. She starts the first book as someone who’s practically been driven insane by isolation and deprivation, and over the course of Shatter Me, Destroy Me, and Unravel Me, she makes a really incredible transformation. A series of them, really. It’s totally engrossing to watch her change – and I can’t wait to see what happens to her in the final book!
RR: If Tahereh were a character in one of your books, who would she be?
KG: Tahereh would definitely be Lena -- a smart and powerful woman, who isn’t afraid to be herself in a world that encourages women to conform.
KG: Let’s talk about the cover of Unravel Me. As a photographer, what were your thoughts when you first saw it? Did it call up any specific associations?
RR: Well, I thought it was beautiful! And haunting, and unusual. I love how much detail there is – the more you look, the more is revealed. I had to turn it face-down on my nightstand when I wasn’t reading it, though, because I swear that eye was looking at me.
RR: If you could borrow one thing from Tahereh, what would it be?
KG: Her “Shatter Me” shoes -- those platforms she covered in shards of mirror.