When authors write stories based on real life, they still have to fictionalize and exaggerate certain things to better fit the world they’ve created. But when 2015 debut YA author Jasmine Warga says she’s fantasized about becoming an author since first grade, she’s not being hyperbolic.
“Being a published writer has been my longest and biggest dream and I can’t believe it’s coming true,” said Warga.
Her dream just became a reality. Warga’s debut novel, My Heart and Other Black Holes, just hit bookstores shelves. For Warga, it’s both surreal and exciting.
“Some days — or rather, most days! — it doesn’t seem real. But honestly, I just feel very lucky and grateful to all the people who have made this possible.”
The inspiration for My Heart and Other Black Holes – about two teens obsessed with death and suicide – came from all over the place, not just one singular moment. “A song on the radio, a poem I stumbled upon, a conversation with a friend, something I saw on TV,” were all things that helped Warga along the way.
But the “initial emotional kernel” that brought everything together “came in January 2013 when I lost one of my closest friends. Grief manifests itself in many different ways, and for me working on something creative was a way to grapple with my own grief.”
With grief fueling her thoughts and feelings, Warga says she didn’t have to do much research. Instead, she wrote from her own emotional truth.
“Every person is going to have a singular and different experience with depression so Aysel and Roman’s narratives are not meant to be a conclusive study of depression, but rather the story of two teenagers who are suffering from severe suicidal ideation.”
To ensure the book had “an accurate, responsible, and realistic depiction of depression and suicidal ideation,” Warga’s editor had the manuscript reviewed by a psychiatrist upon its completion.
“My greatest wish for the book is that it will help to inspire empathy in its readers. Make them want to be kinder, more understanding people. Both kinder and more understanding of others, as well as kinder and more understanding of themselves,” said Warga. “While depression is a very serious and real disease it doesn’t have to be a terminal one. […] I know that often times when you are in the depths of depression, it feels impossible to talk, but please, please find a way to communicate what is going on inside your head to a friend, family member, or teacher. Also, the National Suicide Prevention Line (1-800-273-8255) is always open.”
“You are never, ever alone. Please find a way to reach out and ask for the help you need.”