Saturday, April 25, 2015

0 Lori Goldstein, author of BECOMING JINN, on loving what you write

We're thrilled to have Lori Goldstein with us today because she and her book BECOMING JINN were part of a First Five Pages Workshop in 2013. It's very exciting to see an alum's book go on to be published!

So tell us, Lori, what was your inspiration for writing BECOMING JINN?

Simply a name. A few years ago, there was a horrible earthquake in Turkey. A mother and her infant daughter were pulled from the rubble and both miraculously survived. That baby’s name was Azra, which is my protagonist in Becoming Jinn. It was hearing this beautiful name and picturing this world she would live in that sparked the idea of writing a book featuring Jinn, which for some reason I knew was the term for spirits derived from North African and Middle Eastern lore. A fan of contemporary, I decided to merge the fantasy elements with our modern world and drop Azra and her Jinn family into the world in which I live—quite literally into my home state of Massachusetts.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

Yes, there most definitely was. I had written an adult manuscript over the course of three years, give or take, while also working as a freelance copyeditor. I was always in the publishing world in some way but never on the fiction side. As an avid reader and someone trained in writing, I figured writing fiction would come somewhat easily. It didn’t. Writing that first manuscript was how I learned that! While I eventually ended up with a manuscript I was proud of that received some agent requests (including from my current agent, though she signed me for Becoming Jinn), I wanted to start my next project (which was Jinn) in a much more organized way. And so I took a novel planning course at the Grub Street writing center in Boston. It was during this class, taught by author James Scott, that I had my AHA! moment. He was talking about inside story and outside story and referred to what he called “the wound and the want” and how it informs both. That was my eureka moment. While much of what he was saying I’d heard or read in some way before, it was the context and the way he described this particular element that made everything fall into place in a way that I knew from that moment on would change my writing—all my writing—for the better. I wrote more about “the wound and the want” in a series I did on novel planning last year:

How long did you work on BECOMING JINN?

Following on what I said above, using the tools I learned in the novel planning course, I was able to write Becoming Jinn in two months after one month of planning. My first drafts are more like second drafts because my “first draft” is actually a very long outline/scene-by-scene synopsis, to the tune of 70-80 pages. That outline has summaries as well as full-on scenes with dialogue if the mood strikes while I’m putting it together. In fact, the ending of Becoming Jinn is pretty spot on to what I wrote in its original outline.

I then revised for a month prior to getting my agent. I revised for two months with her before we went on submission. So total time to that point was about six months. I then revised based on my editor’s notes for about three months. Then copyediting and proofing. So pretty close to a full year when you add it all up. And a grand total of having read the book through from beginning to end of, oh, about nine trillion times! You better love what you write!

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

See the above about loving what you write! Seriously, that’s my biggest piece of advice. You will read your book so many times, you will nearly have it memorized. You have to do that and you have to want to do that. You need to know it inside and out so you can see the mistakes and fix them. So you can make it better. If you can’t dedicate yourself to doing that, if you get bored and itchy to move on, you won’t be able to see the manuscript through to publication.

What are you working on now?

The conclusion to the Becoming Jinn series, tentatively titled Circle of Jinn, is in the can, so right now I’m working on a contemporary that, like Jinn, involves a complicated family setup. This one is sans magic, but it has a lot of the flavor of Becoming Jinn, which I think is a contemporary fantasy in the truest sense of those words as Jinn reads very “real world,” or so readers are telling me! I won’t say more about the new project because it’s still early, but I’m really excited about the idea and can’t wait to truly dig in. Though I do still miss writing Azra, I have to admit!


Becoming Jinn

by Lori Goldstein
Feiwel & Friends
Released 4/21/2015

Forget everything you thought you knew about genies!

Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit.

To the humans she lives among, she’s just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she’s learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny.

Mentored by her mother and her Zar “sisters,” Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn . . . and that her powers could endanger them all. As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.
 Purchase Becoming Jinn at Amazon
Purchase Becoming Jinn at IndieBound
View Becoming Jinn on Goodreads


Lori GoldsteinLori Goldstein was born into an Italian-Irish family and raised in a small town on the New Jersey shore. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Lehigh University and worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before becoming a full-time author. She currently lives and writes outside of Boston. Lori is the author of the young adult contemporary fantasy series Becoming Jinn (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 21, 2015, Spring 2016). You can visit her online at

What did you think of our interview with Lori Goldstein, author of BECOMING JINN? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin

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