Shattering Boundaries with Tahereh Mafi

Vervegirl jumped at the chance to interview the young author of Shatter Me. Find out the secret creative skill she’d like to master, authors who have inspired her style, advice she’d give to aspiring young writers and which super power she would have.

Shattering Boundaries with Tahereh MafiBy Giselle San Miguel

VERVEGIRL: If you had a super power, what would it be and how would you use it?
TAHEREH MAFI: The freedom to have any power I wanted at any given time, but there are so many cool things I’d love to be able to do! Not sure how I’d use them though. I think if I could fly I’d probably do a lot of base-jumping without a parachute. If I could never gain weight I’d probably eat a lot of pie. Or cake. Or both.

VG: Which Shatter Me character is your favourite?
TM: This is a tie between Kenji and Warner. They’re both very surprising and complex characters with multi-layered back stories, which makes them interesting to write. I never know what to expect from either of them, and I always love it when they show up on the page.

VG: How did you come up with the plot for Shatter Me?
TM: I don’t outline when I write, so I never have an exact idea of where the story is headed until I get there. Juliette’s voice just arrived in my head one day, and I decided to listen and write it down. She told me where to go from there.

VG: Who are some of your favourite authors and do you think their writing style influenced your own?
TM: I think it’s true that my writing has been influenced by what I’ve read over the years, but I don’t think I could ever flatter myself by comparing my style to any of the authors I esteem. I definitely like the eccentric, though; I love authors who’ve always dared to be different and broken the rules –not only in the stories they’ve told, but in the way they’ve told them. I’m a big fan of Shel Silverstein, for example. I love Dr. Seuss, E. Cummings, Judy Blume, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Austen, and Samuel Beckett.

VG: Describe your writing process.
TM: Pots and pots of tea. A small corner with my desk and a laptop. Absolute silence. Headphones I wear for no real reason at all. Hours and hours and weeks and weeks and any leftover minutes the clock can spare. I sit and type and delete and retype and drink way too much caffeine until the work is done.

VG: If you could master any other creative skill, what would it be and why?
TM: I’d love to drown in the world of fashion design. I love the artistry and the creativity of putting the right and wrong pieces of clothing together. I love understanding the genius that goes into transforming the human canvas into a work of art. It’s impossible to look at anything Alexander McQueen ever created, for example, and not be blown away. I’m always in awe of what can be done with a bolt of fabric, a pair of scissors, and a sewing machine.

VG: What advice would you give to young aspiring writers who want to be published?
TM: If you really want it — you live for it, you ache for it, like you need it to function then you can never give up. It will be tempting; quitting is always tempting. It’s when you think you just can’t take it anymore that you’ll need to push the hardest. So hang in there. Every single day. There’s a limit to talent, but there’s no limit to hard work. (I read that on a T-shirt once.)

Giselle San Miguel is a freelance web designer who has a voracious appetite for reading and manages her own book blog at She also enjoys design, movies, and photography.