Ask the Author: Jasmine Warga

What would you like readers to know about you? 

I consider myself a reader before a writer. My writing is born out of my love of reading. I also view it as an enormous privilege to write stories for young people. The books I read when I was younger live on in the fabric of my being–those stories have become a part of me. I believe so much in the power of storytelling to change our world for the better. 

What is your book about for those who haven’t read it? 

I’m going to talk about two of my books! The first one is OTHER WORDS FOR HOME. OTHER WORDS FOR HOME is the story of 12-year-old Jude who due to the growing violence in her home country of Syria moves across the Atlantic Ocean to resettle in Cincinnati, Ohio. The book is about the struggles and joys of making a new life in a new place. My newest book, which comes out in May 2021, is called THE SHAPE OF THUNDER. The book is about two best friends–Cora and Quinn–who haven’t spoken to each other in over a year since a school shooting happened in their small Ohio town. Cora is still grieving with the loss of her sister, and Quinn is still dealing with the guilt and grief of her brother’s violent actions. The book begins with Quinn leaving a box on Cora’s doorstep. The box contains research and articles about time travel. She tries to convince Cora that they can fix the tragedy of what happened by time traveling to stop Quinn’s brother. The book is about the magic of friendship, believing in impossible things, the trauma of mass gun violence, and most of all the immense power of imagination and love to shape our world for the better. 

What has been your inspiration for writing it? 

The idea for THE SHAPE OF THUNDER first came to me when I was watching elementary school students participate in an active shooter drill. I thought about all the anxiety and pressure we are putting on our kids to fix a problem that shouldn’t be theirs. I started thinking about girls like Cora and Quinn who have to live with the trauma of this violence long after the cameras have left, and what it means for these communities.  

What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write? 

My favorite scenes in THE SHAPE OF THUNDER to write were the scenes between Cora and her therapist. It’s very important for me to show young people that there is nothing shameful about seeking help for mental health. 

What books or authors inspired you to become a writer? 

Some of my favorite books as a young kid were THE BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, THE GIVER, and ELLA ENCHANTED. Today, I am inspired by the work of Kate DiCamillo, Jason Reynolds, and Jackie Woodson.  

What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book? 

To read! Read everything you can get your hands on. Reading is what will teach you how to write. And also, be curious. Pay attention. One of my favorite poets Mary Oliver has a line in a poem that says, “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell me about it.” I follow that advice when writing.  

Pre-order THE SHAPE OF THUNDER from an indie bookstore: 

Pre-order THE SHAPE OF THUNDER from Amazon: 

Buy OTHER WORDS FOR HOME from an indie bookstore: 

Buy OTHER WORDS FOR HOME from Amazon: 

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