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Conversations with Aminah Mae Safi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aminah Mae Safi.

Hi Aminah Mae, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Funny enough, I started out wanting to be an academic. All of my training is in Art History because I thought I wanted to be an art history professor. I love research and learning. I love teaching and sharing my knowledge. I love that history is itself a way of telling a story. And art history, it’s not just telling a story but examining someone else’s narratives as well. There are many reasons why I ended up stepping away from the path of an academic. Mostly, I love to teach people about the world around them and about themselves. And as academia stands right now, at least in the world of history, it’s much more about the isolated focus of your own research efforts rather than those research efforts combined with teaching. I went through several jobs and career paths after that, but the one that I learned that dovetailed so well into my love of storytelling, my love of research, and my love of teaching was working on novels. Particularly novels for young people. When you’re young, you’re interested in investigating the world around you and investigating yourself. I love that I get to tell stories that encourage young people to think, explore, and learn.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The struggle that sticks out for me is the struggle I had with myself, to be honest. It took a long time for me to let go of the idea of academia or even working in galleries or museums or the arts in some capacity. I was overly-attached to the idea that I needed that stability and respectability from my own career path. It’s funny because I’ve wound up teaching writing over at Antioch’s low residency MFA here in LA. As well as at UCLA Extensions. But I never would have had those opportunities had I stuck with following the path I thought I needed to walk. It’s not the only struggle, but it’s the one I think about the most. Probably because I was the one who was the most in my own way.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m a writer and an author! I’ve published three young adult novels—NOT THE GIRLS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR, TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL, and THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT. I’ve also written a short story, “Be Cool, For Once” in the anthology FRESH INK. And I’ve got a historical adventure that’s a re-telling of Robin Hood from the perspective of the Muslim side of the Third Crusade called TRAVELERS ALONG THE WAY that will be out in 2021. I’m most proud of the body of work I’ve built since I sold my first book in 2016. I love to tell stories about messy young people with big ambitions. I love writing stories about people in moments where they decide to change, where they start answering the questions they’ve always asked themselves. I write a lot about found family, about groups of misfits, and finding home in unexpected places.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Photos in red dress from NOT THE GIRL’S YOU’RE LOOKING FOR LAUNCH credit goes to Two Cats Communication, 2018 photos in white, polka dot dress (clapping), credit goes to Kirsten Gilliam Photography, 2019 photo in white dress on stage at the ripped bodice: credit goes to Steven Conte, 2019 image in red pants recording short story (“Be Cool, For Once”) for FRESH INK audiobook is my own

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