Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.
Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.
Incorporating my Love for Art in my Writing.
I studied art history in college and graduate school. I wanted to be a professor. I think I thought of it as a respectable way to be a writer—to tell a kind of stories, to teach, and to research in a way that most people found acceptable. But when I came out of graduate school, I realized I wanted to write my own stories, make my own art.
Studying the history of art for six years can do that to a girl. I’d started my debut—Not The Girls You’re Looking For—while I was in grad school and I couldn’t let go of it once I’d graduated.
Art was history and identity, politics and imagination—all wrapped up in a craft that another human had spent their lives working to build. My love of art, is, ultimately a love of story—the story of the time that an art was produced during, the story of the artist themselves, the story of how any given piece of art is actually made. Google for videos of “lost wax method” and try not to be entranced by the process, I dare you.
The funny thing was, once you spend a formative piece of your life studying art, you develop a whole lot of ideas on what art is and what it isn’t. How you make art and why. I brought all of that into writing my books. I might not have made references to specific paintings in Not The Girls You’re Looking For, but I thought about the ways in which master paintings drew on tales of classical mythology.
I decided that the new wave of classical mythology—the thoroughly American mythology—was the world of the movies. So I made film references throughout my first work. I pulled ideas that I’d read from books. In short, I pulled from what I’d seen in so much of the visual arts, which is, that no story is original on its own. The story becomes original because of the way an artist sees that story.
Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Beheading Holofernes is not a new subject matter. But the way she saw Judith was so new it was radical. I’m not the first person to write about female friendship. And I hope—and am honestly quite assured in this hope—that I’m not the last. But the way I see female friendships—with their complexity and their nuance, with their hurt, and their loyalty and struggle—is all my own. From studying art, I learned that my voice and my perspective were what I brought that was unique to the story of Not The Girls You’re Looking For.
Without art, I might not have held fast to that belief. And I’m so glad I did and that I can share Lulu and her three best friends with the world now.
— Aminah Mae Safi
I want to fangirl a little bit because, since May, Aminah has become one of my favourite persons and she’s super nice and oh so talented. I mean just read her response up above. It has inspired me so much and I know now I never should have been nervous, when I decided I wanted a Guest Post from her. “I learned that my voice and my perspective were what I brought that was unique” this is solid advice and the kind of perspective everyone who writes, whether novels, reviews, articles, essays etc. needs to condone and remember. I am so looking forward to getting her next book, which has such an enticing blurb and will make my sapphic heart soar, whenever it is I get my hands on it.
About the Author
Aminah Mae Safi is a Muslim-American writer who explores art, fiction, feminism, and film. She loves Sofia Coppola movies, Bollywood endings, and the Fast and Furious franchise. She’s the winner of the We Need Diverse Books short story contest. Originally raised in Texas, she now lives in Los Angeles, California, with her partner, a cat bent on world domination, and another cat who’s just here for the snacks.