Jasmine Warga: A Remarkable New Voice in YA Fiction

JWAuthorPhoto
Photo courtesy of Jasmine Warga

Released for the world to read on February 10th, debut novel My Heart and Other Black Holes has captivated the hearts of many. Even before it was published, book bloggers who have read advance reader’s copies gushed about My Heart and Other Black Holes on social media and various blogs. As positive reviews posted on the Internet increased in number, more and more bookworms showed interest to read it. Today, My Heart and Other Black Holes’ lovely author, Jasmine Warga, drops by Germ to talk about the book, writing, and other wonderful things that make her spark!

 

About My Heart and Other Black Holes

18336965Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution—Roman, a teenage boy who’s haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner. Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together.

*Photo and synopsis from the author’s website

 

Hi, Jasmine! We are so happy to have you here on Germ! First of all, congratulations on the publication of your debut novel, My Heart and Other Black Holes! How is life as a published author so far?

Thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be featured on Germ. It has been so surreal. I just feel very grateful to be here and to have the book on shelves. The best part has been hearing from readers — my inbox is full of very heartwarming and sincere letters, and it means the world to me to know that my book has connected with readers, especially those who have experienced struggles similar to Aysel’s.

 

I’m sure Germ readers would love to know you better. Can you tell us, who is Jasmine Warga?

I’m a girl who was born and raised around Cincinnati, Ohio, so I grew up along the Ohio River, which probably doesn’t surprise anyone who has read the book. I live and write in a small cape cod style house with my large grey cat, rambunctious rust-colored dog, and husband. I like iced coffee, emotive indie music, and quiet parks.

 

How long have you been writing, and when did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

The most honest answer is I’ve been telling stories my whole life. It took me a while to fully own that I wanted to be a professional writer, but I’ve always been a storyteller.

 

Can you describe your writing process?

It’s very messy. I never outline. I write from the gut and follow my character’s voice. To me, writing is an act of exploration and discovery.

 

How did you come up with the idea for My Heart and Other Black Holes?

I started to write the book in January 2013 after the loss of a very close friend of mine, so my grief and love of our friendship definitely served as an initial inspiration. That said, the book is about so many things — friendship, family, identity — and I think a lot of those threads had been inside me for a while, but I’d just been too scared to actually follow them.

 

When you started writing My Heart and Other Black Holes, did you envision it as YA immediately? What made you decide to write it for the young adult audience?

I knew right away that Aysel was sixteen, and I knew it was her story. I wanted to be as honest and true to that as possible. So I never actively considered a YA audience, but I was distinctly aware that I was writing from a sixteen-year-old’s perspective and I tried to be as honest and authentic as possible.

 

My Heart and Other Black Holes explores heavy, delicate subject matters such as depression and suicide. What was it like writing about them in a fictional setting?

You know, I never actively sat down to write about depression or suicide. Rather, I heard Aysel’s voice in my head, and depression and suicidal thoughts happen to be a huge part of her story. Again, I just tried to be as honest and authentic as possible. I really didn’t think actively too much about the writing process, but instead followed her voice.

 

What sets My Heart and Other Black Holes apart from other YA novels that deal with similar issues?

Oh, I don’t know. This question is always so tricky because I think as authors we all love to believe that we have a very unique book, but the reality is that I think writing novels is similar to composing a song on a piano — we are all dealing with the same keys, just coming up with different combinations. I do think though that the fact Aysel has immigrant parents makes her stand out as a different type of female lead than we normally see, and I’m quite proud of that. It was also important to me to give actual voice to someone who was actively struggling with serious depression and suicidal thoughts, rather than begin the book after the character had already made the decision to end her life.

 

Reminiscing your writing adventure for My Heart and Other Black Holes, what was the greatest challenge you encountered while writing it?

To keep going. I have a terrible habit of abandoning projects midway, and I’m really glad I stuck this one out.

 

Why did you choose physics, in particular, to integrate into the story? Were you also a physics nerd in high school like the main character, Aysel?

I’m not quite sure how I settled on physics. It’s funny because I definitely wasn’t a physics nerd at all. Instead, I was a poetry nerd, and for those of you who have read the book, you’ll see the irony in that. If I had to guess, I’d say I was probably inspired by my brief stint as a science teacher, but I can’t imagine Aysel without her penchant for physics. She came to me like that and so I rolled with it.

 

What tips would you share to aspiring writers?

To read. Read everything and anything. And also to keep writing. And make it about the writing — everything else, like publication, will eventually come, but just focus on telling stories that you feel need to be told.

 

What is next for Jasmine Warga?

Another book with my same editor! Right now, I can’t give a lot of details, but I can say the thing I’m working on right now deals with complicated female friendship, the indie music scene, and self-discovery.

 

 

 

Connect with Jasmine Warga: Twitter | FacebookTumblr | Website

Jesselle Villegas
A lover of words and music since the age of five, Jesselle Villegas is a freelance writer and a book blogger from Manila, Philippines. When she’s not writing or reading, she creates playlists, fangirls over cute book boyfriends, and dreams of becoming a published author one day. Jesselle is currently working on a contemporary YA novel that makes her happy 24/7. You may follow her bookish adventures at her blog, The Lifelong Bookworm, and on Twitter @jessellev.

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