Exclusive Interview With Renée Ahdieh
1) Who were your role models growing up, both within and outside of the writing world, and what inspired you to become a writer?
My role models were mostly the heroes and heroines in some of my most beloved books—Alanna from Tamora Pierce’s work, Taran of Caer Dallben from Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles, and Eilonwy from the same series.
2) This is probably an unfair question, but who is your favorite writer or what is your favorite book? Or to put it another way, what literary work or author has influenced your writing style the most?
My favorite authors are Isabel Allende and Kahlil Gibran.
3) What is the thing you love most about writing or about making a career out of being a writer?
Having the opportunity to meet all the amazing people in the book world—publishers, bloggers, other writers, book lovers, etc.
4) Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process, and how your ideas transform from drafts to the final product?
I’m big on outlining, so I tend to start with character sketches and build plots from there.
5) Do you ever encounter obstacles or challenges while you are writing? If so, how do you deal with them? Are you, for example, ever plagued by writer’s block? What kind of practical advice can you give to writers who are facing such challenges?
I don’t believe in writer’s block, but I do believe in writing oneself into a corner. For me, it usually means I’m forcing it; that the writing is not organic. I’d suggest taking a step back and seeking sources of inspiration.
6) I have to say, I am not well versed on the classic tales in One Thousand and One Nights beyond the famous classic stories in the work that we have all come to know and love, such as Aladdin. But, after reading your book, I went online and purchased an anthology of all the stories. Why did you decide to base your book on the stories in this work?
Two reasons: I am the child of mixed race, so I always knew I wanted to bring a different world to life. The second reason is because my husband’s family is Persian, so I had a fount of knowledge at my doorstep.
7) Your book, The Wrath & The Dawn, is so amazing, and I really enjoyed reading it. In my review of your book for my book site, I wrote, “The most powerful asset of this book is the ability to retell an age old story of looking past what we think we know about someone and giving their humanity a chance. We are forced to explore the main characters more deeply and break through the shells of who we think they are. But, more than this, Ahdieh does not simply retell this old story, but she almost dares us to disagree with its veracity, its possibility, its strength, and its hope. In the end, I find that I cannot, and neither will you.” Why did you decide to write this particular story? PS: I am really glad that you did!
Thank you so much! Mostly for the reasons stated above. Also because I am huge fan of the source material. My favorite tale is the story of Sinbad.
8) The one thing I love about your book is the diversity in your narrative and how the book gives a vision to what the young adult book world will look like, if it entertained diversity. Can you comment a bit about diversity in the young adult book world?
I think this year has been a banner year for diverse books. Wonderful stories of a diverse nature have always been there, but this has been a great year for putting the dearth in diverse children’s literature in the foreground, as opposed to on the back burner. It’s an issue that’s very important to me.
9) Shahrzad and Khalid, the main characters in your novel, are amazing and they make quite the pair. It is hard not to root for them both individually and as a pair. What/Who are the inspirations behind the characters?
I thought first about how to make them whole, complete characters on their own. I believe this is the foundation of a solid relationship.
10) Jalal is my favorite character in your book, and he is my Delam. He is very funny, optimistic, and protective. Please tell me we would be seeing a lot more of him in book two of the series?
Yes! And I love Jalal, too.
11) Am I right to assume that The Wrath & The Dawn is going to be a Duology rather than a trilogy?
It’s going to be a duology.
12) Can you give us some hints about what to expect from Book two? For instance, is there going to be more magic- please let there be more magic- because you seem to set it up as a central theme to expect in book two?
I can’t say much about it, but I will say there will be more sword-fighting, more kissing, and maybe a magic carpet ride or two.
13) Are you currently working on any other books or actively exploring ideas for other books besides your current series?
Yes, I just started to draft the first of a new fantasy series.
14) What advice do you have for young, aspiring writers out there?
Don’t listen to people who try to give you advice. Just keep trying, no matter what.