Tahereh Mafi searches into her own Persian heritage to write another middle grade fantasy story with WHICHWOOD.
Best-selling author Tahereh Mafi found the inspiration for her upcoming book, Whichwood, within her own Persian culture, something that took her some time to realize.
“Persian culture has never been fiction to me; it’s a part of my life. The food, the poetry, the sounds and scents, the festivals and fairytales, these are as real to me as the bones in my body. It never occurred to me to fictionalize any of it,” Mafi tells Bustle. “But then, there’s also a much longer answer here, one that speaks to the reflection and reeducation necessary in shedding institutionalized ideas about which mythologies generate great art. The simple truth is that, growing up, I never saw myself represented in mainstream literature. My young self absorbed this invisibility so deeply it nearly erased me from my own consciousness. It took me some time to realize I had permission to be inspired by the tapestry of my own life.”
With that in mind, she was able to create a unique fantasy about a new young female character that has to find her own strength and her ability to overcome hardships.
“Laylee is certainly my idea of a realistic female protagonist. She’s a young woman trying desperately to protect herself from a society that wants to hurt her and hold her back. She’s anger and heartbreak all at once. I adore her.”
Check out the beautiful cover for Whichwood.
Our story begins on a frosty night…
Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear.
But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.
Whichwood is scheduled to be published November 14, 2017.