Interview- Renee Ahdieh author of The Wrath & the Dawn + Giveaway (INT)

9780399171611_large_The_Wrath_and_the_Dawn Renee

I recently had the pleasure of reading an early copy of The Wrath & the Dawn and I instantly fell in love with not only Ahdieh’s beautiful prose but also the sweeping scenery, characters and pacing. This book became an instant favorite for me and I’m delighted to have the honor of asking Renee some questions.

Interview

One of the reasons I was drawn to your novel was because of the reference to A Thousand and One Nights in the summary. I loved that you incorporated aspects of this folk tale into your own story and used a similar structure to frame your own. Was there any specific reason you chose the Middle East and A Thousand and One Nights for TW&TD?
I have to be careful when answering this question because sometimes I feel its answer could be a book in and of itself. My husband is Persian, and the first time he took me to visit his family, I saw this gorgeous tapestry hanging on the wall of their living room. At a distance, it looked like a hundred different vignettes strung together at random. When I asked his mother what it was, she told me it was tales from A Thousand and One Nights. Eventually, this inspired me to consider what it would be like to write a YA version of the tale of Scheherazade. I’m also a child of mixed-race, so I’ve always been fascinated with different worlds. I think all of these things along with many others contributed to what eventually brought about the book

You were able to give lush, vibrant descriptions of the scenery that made me feel that I was there. Have you traveled to this area of the world? If not, what resources did you use to help transport your reader?
Thank you so much for saying so! I’ve been to India several times, and I traveled through Greece and Egypt. Many of the things I saw and experienced served as inspiration for certain scenes in the book. I also watched several documentaries and read a lot of poetry and literature from the region, as well as had lengthy discussion with family members who lived in the Middle East for many years. I think it’s so important to make novels an immersive experience, both for the reader and the writer.

Since your novel has historical and folklore elements I imagine there was a good amount of research involved. What was the oddest or most interesting thing you learned?
Oh, lord. I think the day I learned about ancient Egyptian surgical procedures was a pretty fascinating/horrifying day. Also any research that goes into detail about old school waste disposal. That’s always fun 😉

Your main character is a heroine to root for. Shazi is strong willed, cunning and incredibly likeable. In writing TW&TD did the characters or the storyline come first?
Thank you again! For me, character always comes first. I can read a book about two people stuck in an elevator for three hours if I find them to be compelling. Whenever I’m drafting, I begin with character sketches. These sketches usually detail specific traits I’d like a character to embody. From these, I craft scenes that, hopefully, convey those character traits.

Did any of your characters take on a life of their own and go off the original path you had set for them?
Hmmmm. The fun answer would be yes. But no. I’m a crazy plotter and a big control freak. One of those nutjobs prone to make lists about every inane detail. Seriously you can ask my agent. Her nickname for me is Crazypants. That being said, there were definitely moments characters said things that surprised me. But I always know what I plan to write when I sit down.

My favorite type of character is one with secrets that aren’t instantly revealed and straddles the line between good and evil, which you accomplished beautifully. Do you have a specific method for creating your characters and their personalities?
Thank you so much! I think I inadvertently started to answer this question above and then deleted some of it because I saw this one. What can I say; your questions are all so great and thought provoking! I usually start with a character’s name. I write it on a sheet of paper and create a web around his/her name with character traits, physical features, anything I think might be of relevance to that specific character. Sometimes I’ll write a short story from that character’s perspective just to establish voice.

Do you use music to help set the tone as you write? If so, what are a few songs that express the feel of your book?
Music is of absolute necessity when I write. The sound of silence drives me batty. Usually I’ll have a playlist on low, running on repeat. If other people are around me, I’ll put on noise-canceling headphones (see above re: control freak/Crazypants). I love all kinds of music, but I’m partial to anything by Explosions in the Sky, M83, Radiohead, Sevenlions, Bassnectar, Gemini, AWOLNATION, Massive Attack, Metallica, any of Stravinsky’s ballets, John Coltrane . . . I mean this list could get exhaustive.

Are you actively working on anything right now? Can you tell us anything about it?
I’m working on edits for the sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn, tentatively titled The Rose and the Dagger.

Thank you so much Renee!
Thank YOU, Kristen!! J

About the Book

9780399171611_large_The_Wrath_and_the_DawnEvery dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

The Wrath & the Dawn releases May 12th 2015 by Putnam Juvenile

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Extras

Review of The Wrath & The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

TW&TDThe Wrath & The Dawn
By: Renee Ahdieh
Release Date: May 12th 2015
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Format: Print ARC
Source: Won in giveaway

My Rating:
star

Summary:
A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

The Story:
When I heard this book was inspired by A Thousand and One Nights I knew I had to have it. I’m so happy that this book did not disappoint and will be added to my shelves as a favorite.  The story begins with a prologue that sets up some of the mystery behind why the Caliph, Khalid, has his new bride murdered every dawn. I was immediately captivated. Ahdieh wasted no time in throwing us into the story and having Shahrzad thrown into the palace and danger. The book was beautifully paced and kept me riveted and tense.

The setting was absolutely breathtaking. I had to break while reading it to do some research on Khorasan and A Thousand and One Nights. I needed to see pictures, read more and educate myself about this area. I love when a book can pull me that deep into the setting that even while I’m not reading I’m thinking, researching and seeking more knowledge on the location or topics presented.

Ahdieh was more than capable at painting the scenes with her words and really had me completely immersed. I could picture the palace, clothing and landscape clearly.

I wasn’t sure when starting this book if it would have any magic or fantasy and I’m so happy that it does! It was small tidbits, magical realism, but beautifully incorporated. It’s so hard to describe how much I enjoyed this storyline.

The Characters:
Not only did The Wrath & The Dawn have a beautiful setting and intense storyline the characters were multidimensional. Time was spent to give the reader a sense of the main character, Shahrzad. I immediately respected and liked her; I wanted her to succeed and felt fear for her when she was caught up in sticky situations. She was a bold personality that was brave, smart and loyal. She wasn’t perfect by any means though and I felt that she was very relatable.

Khalid on the other-hand was more of a mystery. The reader isn’t certain of his motivations right off and we learn of him as Shazi does. I felt that I had a sense about him that I was able to prove as I continued to read. I loved that he was given grief, guilt, anger and so many other emotions. He was very complex and complicated which made him a favorite of mine.

All of the characters dealt with their own personal demons, motivations and guilt. I thought that Ahdieh did a brilliant job in giving all of her characters immense depth.

Final Thoughts:
The Wrath & the Dawn became an instant favorite and I’m so eager to read the sequel because wow…what a strong world, story and amazing characters. I’m in love.

The Wrath & the Dawn will be available May 12th 2015

Extras:

  • Look for my interview with Renee next month!
  • I created this cover in LEGO (click on the image to see it larger)

TheWrath&TheDawnLego
You can see more covers redone in Lego here.

Lego Cover Art- The Wrath & The Dawn

If you follow me here or on Twitter you would have seen me flailing about Renee Ahdieh’s upcoming book, The Wrath & The Dawn. I was lucky enough to win an advance copy and after reading it I became absolutely obsessed. This book is incredible and inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. I highly recommend that you add this one to your TBR list. Because of my obsession I had to create a Lego version of the cover. I had thought, oh this will be easy. Um, think again. I did about four versions before I got to this one. I hope you enjoy it!

TheWrath&TheDawnLego

 

Extras:

I’ll be posting an interview with Renee closer to the release date as well as a review.
I have 2 giveaways going for this book- a pre-order and for an ARC

Past Lego Covers:

 Blocks Unhinged   The Immortal Rules  

UnboundLego320 LegoStillBlue320 thewinnerscurse320fin MortalHeartFinal KissOfDeception320 ACOTARLego320

ARC Giveaway-The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

I was lucky to win a copy of The Wrath & the Dawn very early and fell immediately in love with Renee’s writing. This is a must read and I’m THRILLED to be able to offer a reader an ARC of their very own. Thank you so much to Barbara, Renee’s agent extraordinaire.  I also have a pre-order giveaway going on twitter so be sure to enter-especially my international readers. Since I’m so desperately in love with this book and author I have some other plans in the works- an interview and Lego cover so be sure to keep your eyes open for both.

About the book

9780399171611_large_The_Wrath_and_the_Dawn

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

If that summary doesn’t do look at this advance praise:

WrathandDawnrecommended

So there’s that beautiful cover, a summary to die for and advance praise from Carrie Ryan and Marie Lu. Do you need anymore convincing? I thought not.

Giveaway

This is a US only giveaway–international friends enter the pre-order giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Twitter Pre-Order Giveaway

And while you’re at it….

WrathTwitterGiveaway

Click to go to Twitter to enter

 

 

Stacking the Shelves

Notice anything different? I decided it was time for a change so gave My Friends Are Fiction a make-over. I’m loving it. Last week I skipped Stacking the Shelves to post my stop on Cuddlebuggery‘s epic giveaway hop, Getting to Know You. You can still enter to win a pre-order so head over.

I’m including 2 week’s worth of books this time and boy I love each of them. Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga’s Reviews is a weekly meme where you show what books you’ve purchased, gotten from the library, received from giveaway, as gifts or for review.

For Review (via Edelweiss):

Illusionarium

Some new Harper titles went live on Edelweiss so I ran to check to see if this was one of them and YES IT WAS. I’m so excited. I hope it’s as amazing as I hope/expect it to be.

For Review (thank you Harper and HMH!):

 PolarisDangerousDeceptions

Won (Thank you Irene Goodman Literary Agency):

 WrathandDawnWrathandDawnrecommended

I feel so lucky I checked Twitter right when I did because I won the last copy and it was purely by luck. It made my day, week, month. I have already read The Wrath & The Dawn and WOW. I loved it.

Traded:

BlueLilyARC

Purchased:

EveryWord

Borrowed:

ShadowscaleHotChoco

A wonderful friend took pity on me and loaned me their copy and I’m oh so thankful. I’ve been waiting for this book for years and I couldn’t wait to dive in. I’m a bit more than half way and honestly, I’m the tiniest bit disappointed. I feel so sad saying that. It’s written beautifully of course but the subject matter is a tad dull for me. Isn’t that horrible? I want to love it! I hope the last half will pick up for me.

Gifted (thank you Big Honcho Media!):

GatheringDarknessFC

I’ll be having a special something coming next month related to this series. Keep your eyes open!

Posts From Last Week- there aren’t many since I was busy on the website design switch

  • Review of Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes     star
  • Getting to Know You Giveaway Hop– Enter to win a pre-order of one of my anticipated 2015 release (Red Queen, An Ember in the Ashes or A Court of Thorns and Roses (International)

I am very close to hitting 3k followers on Twitter.  My good friend Jon from Bookish Antics is close to 2k so we figured when we both met our goal we’d have a giveaway.

That’s it for me. I’m shocked Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK for my US and Canadian friends. I don’t feel ready to host just yet but soon. I hope you all have a fabulous time next week and I want to let you all know that I am insanely grateful and thankful for each of you. Big virtual hugs!