Interview with Aminah Mae Safi: This Is All Your Fault

Set over the course of one day, Aminah Mae Safi’s This Is All Your Fault is a smart and voice-driven YA novel that follows three young women determined to save their indie bookstore.

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

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about the author

Aminah Mae Safi is a Muslim-American writer. Safi was the winner of the We Need Diverse Books short story contest, and that story appeared in the anthology Fresh Ink. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her partner and cat. This Is All Your Fault is her third novel, following Not the Girls You’re Looking For and Tell Me How You Really Feel.

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What was the inspiration for your book?

I wanted to write what would happen if Empire Records was in a bookstore. And I wanted the girls to be the central protagonists of the plot. Everything else, well it spiraled out of that central idea—

What would happen if three girls who thought they knew each other decided to work together and save their beloved, dying indie?

Is there a main character you relate to more than the others? Which one?

I relate to them all on some level. I gave Rinn my can-do energy and my anxiety. I drew from the depths of my memories of my own depression when I was writing Imogen. I gave Daniella my impulsivity and my grief and my rage, all borne out of my later-in-life diagnosis with ADHD.

They all were given aspects of my self, but then I always ultimately try to let them be as they are.

This Is All Your Fault takes place over a day, what was the inspiration for this idea?   

I love the constraint of it. I wanted to see if I could manage a story over twenty-four hours. My book before it, Tell Me How You Really Feel was compressed down to a month while I was editing it. And the story just opened up so much as I edited it and really limited the timeline.

I wanted to see what would happen if I made a story happen over the course of twenty-four hours. I just wanted to know if I could do it, honestly.

What was the highlight of writing this book?

This is a funny one, but, the way I got to set up all of these internal expectations and judgements within each girl’s mind and then break them.

Rinn, Daniella, and Imogen each have a definitive idea of who they are and who the others are. And getting to jump between each of their perspectives and shatter these ideas, while also honoring their points of view, that was a delight, from a craft perspective.

Which part of the novel was the hardest to write?   

It’s always hard for me to write the scenes where a character has been broken down and have none of their usual defense left. It requires a degree of vulnerability on my end — and the characters’— that is always exhausting for me.

Which writers have influenced your writing?  

Jane Austen. Zora Neale Hurston. Anne and Charlotte Brontë (sorry Emily! You’re great!). Melina Marchetta. Philip Pullman. Elizabeth Gaskell. Art historians like Rosalind Krauss and Gülru Necipoğlu.

Do you have a preferred font to write in, maybe a font that makes you feel productive or a font that helps you focus?  

Nope! I typically end up in Times New Roman because that’s the industry standard. But I also use standards like Helvetica and Arial. I love staying open to whatever final font my cover director chooses. That’s one of my favorite things— seeing the way someone whose mind works in design translates my book onto choices like that. 

How did you come up with the names for the characters and the bookstore? 

Wild Night’s Bookstore and Emporium is named for a line from an Emily Dickinson poem. I used the motif of poetry through, for Daniella is a poet, and I really wanted to highlight as many women poets as I could. It was a delicate balance between evoking known poetry and finding new lines that people might not have heard before.

Rinn Olivera— I gave my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. She’s part Mexican American and part German American, which is my own mother’s heritage. I was giving that a nice wink when I named her.

Imogen Azar— I named her for a more esoteric Shakespearean heroine. I wanted her to have that kind of baggage with her name. I also wanted her to be angry she hadn’t gotten a name in her own culture group. So she’s got this old fashioned English lit name, when really she wishes she’d been named for a proper Arabic poet, like Wallada. I just loved the juxtaposition of it.

Daniella Korres— ahh I named her last. She’s Greek so I needed a name conveyed that liminal space that so many Greek Americans occupy, between whiteness and immigrant. Daniella is not Madison or Mackenzie or Karen or Jessica or Lauren. But it is still a name we encounter fairly frequently, as Americans. I also wanted a name where she could have a nickname, which was important for the way she relates to other characters and how they relate to her.


Enter to win a copy of THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!

Giveaway ends October 19th, 2020.

Thank you to Turn The Pages Tours for letting me be a part of this tour! Follow the rest of the tour here and check out my Goodreads for the review of the book!


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