Last week the most exciting thing happened—Tahereh Mafi had her launch party for Defy Me at the bookstore I work at! The moment I found out she would be coming to our store (which was all the way back in February before any of her tour stops were announced) I started freaking out. I didn’t actually work the event as a bookseller that night, but I definitely showed up!
This event was especially special because Tahereh’s husband and fellow YA author, Ransom Riggs, came as well. Their interactions were absolutely adorable and I am so glad I had the chance to hear them speak during the discussion. One interesting fact they shared with the audience is that at home they share an office AND a desk! They write right next to each other at a long desk.
The discussion obviously focused on the Shatter Me series (since Defy Me is the fifth book and all) and Ransom asked Tahereh some great questions. What’s different about Defy Me is that it’s told through three POVs—Juliette, Warner, and Kenji. This was done to keep the book active since the three characters start out in all different places. Once the timeline starts to merge, Kenji’s POV disappears because it becomes redundant. Kenji was easier to write since he’s a lot more fun—Juliette and Warners are very dramatic and serious. Tahereh has four older brothers and Kenji is kind of a combination of them all—some of his lines were directly lifted from their real conversations.
Tahereh also talked a little bit about her middle grade fantasy, Furthermore, and how different it was writing it compared to the Shatter Me series. While writing in the Shatter Me world, Tahereh immerses herself in darkness since the world is so bleak. Tahereh wanted to tell the story of surviving adversity with grace and dignity and show off a different kind of strong female character, which she does through Juliette, who is extremely broken and flawed. On the other hand, Furthermore is a vibrant and bright world so it was really fun to write something different. When Tahereh came back to the Shatter Me world for this new trilogy, she reread her books and created a whole Scrivener document to the world, which Ransom didn’t know.
After the discussion ended, Tahereh and Ransom signed books for us. Tahereh was so kind and personalized all six books for me. It was nice chatting with both of them and I am so glad they came to my bookstore! I look forward to seeing them again in the future!