Over the last couple years, Aminah Mae Safi has become one of my all-time favorite YA authors, and I feel lucky to have featured her previous books, NOT THE GIRLS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR and TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL. Her newest novel, THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, came out on October 13, 2020:
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.”
In our last interview, you said, “We’re all imperfect beings in this life trying to figure out the best way to make a life for ourselves.” In what ways has this been true for you, especially within the past year?
Wow, genuinely wild to have your own words back at you in this way. I think I’ve had to be a lot kinder to myself this year. I’ve had to let go of so many expectations. I’ve had to figure out what living day to day means, particularly when it feels as though the whole world has gone sideways. And sometimes, the whole world had gone sideways.
I know what it is to be on my own, but I think what this year has also taught me is even in lockdown, we are not alone. Friends came by to celebrate my launch— safely and with masks on, they brought baked goods and a poster. People reaching out when they know times are hard. I’ve gone back to the early days of the internet and I send badly taken photos of what I had for lunch to people. That’s been giving me a sense of communal continuity in the way that being able to keep working has been giving me a sense of purpose.
I think making a life for yourself is figuring out the day to day. And finding that sense of community, even when we are all apart. You really don’t have to be perfect. You just have to keep showing up.
So true. And I love that you talk about community amidst being apart. It’s so important for everyone to remain connected, especially now. Your newest novel THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT is set over the course of one day. How did you know this story needed to be told in this kind of a timeframe, and what challenges did it present when you wrote it?
I wanted to try to set a story in one day, honestly. I loved the challenge of it. I wanted to see if I could do it. And the idea of just one day to save the bookstore felt like the right timeframe. Like when the structural idea of a story meets up perfectly with the story you want to tell. I loved that structure in EMPIRE RECORDS and so I set out to see if I could do that in a novel.
I had to start from the very beginning with the timeframe in mind with the outline. So my original outline is story beats from each character’s perspective, plus a time stamp. That way I could see if I was weighting the morning or the afternoon or the evening more heavily than the rest.
Outlining by timestamp sounds like a great strategy that could be used in other writing situations too! What kinds of books would you like to see more of and why?
Oh man, I think we’re already starting to see the kinds of books I’ve always wanted to see more of. Genre books with more diversity. Inclusive romance. More inclusive creators. I know none of this is perfect, but it’s been wonderful to see the wheels of change on this one.
That said, I’ve been hankering recently for a good adventure story!