Welcome back to another Unapologetically Muslim post! to say I’m excited would be an understatement. I read Other Words For Home for the first time last year and I honestly can’t tell you how many tears I cried. That book touched me in so many ways, and in ways I wasn’t even expecting. It automatically became a favourite of mine. I got the chance to read The Shape of Thunder earlier this year and felt the exact same way. So it’s with a lot of excitement that I get to interview one of my favourite authors on the blog today!
Please welcome, Jasmine Warga!
- Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! I want to start by welcoming you to the blog, I’m so happy to have you here today. The first question I would like to ask is, what inspires you to write your stories?
Salaam, Noura! You know, I think my main inspiration for all my stories is curiosity. All of my stories start from questions I have about the world. Sometimes these are really tough questions—they’re things that scare or upset me. Sometimes they are things that I’m just interested in or passionate about. But all of my stories come from my own innate curiosity about the world and the human experience.
- I also want to ask about representation, how important was it for you to bring Muslim rep to the forefront? To have unapologetically Muslim protagonists in your book?
It was really important to me because when I was a kid, I never saw Muslim characters in books. If I ever saw Muslims in media, it was a really negative portrayal—the bad guy in the movie, etc. And when I was a kid, I was made to feel ashamed about a lot of different parts of my identity, and so I wanted to write stories that would feature positive representation so that kids today can have those stories I so badly needed as young person. I also like to write stories that show diversity within the Muslim experience. We are a diverse group. Some of us are more religious than others, some of us practice in different ways, etc. And I’m excited to see more and more new voices writing books with Muslim characters because like I said, I think it’s important to reflect the diversity that exists in the Muslim community.
- Do you have any advice that you would like to pass on to Muslim writers?
Just to know that their story and their voice matters and to not feel pressure to have their story represent ALL Muslims. I think sometimes as marginalized creators we can feel so stressed about wanting the book to be all things to all people, but my advice would be to tell the story that you want to tell, the story only you can tell, and then to support other Muslim writers on their journeys too so we can continue to get more and more diversity in our writing community
- What do you hope your readers will take away from your books?
I want them to know that they are loved. They are seen. That they matter. And that they should never be made to feel ashamed of their cultural and religious backgrounds.
- Not exactly a book related question, but how have Ramadan preparations been for you? Do you have any favourite traditions and dishes during this month?
Yes! I love mamools—especially the date stuffed kind. They are my favorite treat during this month. They remind me of Jordan and bring back lots of childhood memories. My other favorite dish to make is Musakhan, which is my very favorite meal from my youth, and I love being able to share it with my kids.
Please make sure you check out Jasmine Warga’s amazing books!
(Click on the image to be directed to the Goodreads page)
About the Author
Jasmine Warga is a writer from Cincinnati, Ohio who currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. She is the internationally bestselling author of My Heart and Other Black Holes and Here We Are Now. Her books have been published in over twenty-five countries and optioned for film. Her debut middle grade novel, Other Words For Home, will be published in Spring 2019. Jasmine lives in an apartment filled with books with her husband, two tiny daughters, large dog, and mischievous cat.