Renée, what was your inspiration for writing THE WRATH AND THE DAWN?
THE WRATH AND THE DAWN was inspired by the frame narrative of The Arabian Nights--the story of Scheherazade. I also threw in a bit of Beauty and the Beast, as well as The Count of Monte Cristo, for good measure!
What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
There is a scene early in the book when the main character Shahrzad almost dies. That was a difficult one for me to write, mostly because I wanted to do all her emotions justice. I didn't want to be trite. I wanted the reader to feel what she was feeling with each step, with every breath. After all is said and done, I am proud of that scene . . . but I'm mostly very grateful it seems to resonate with readers.
What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?
I'd say Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Trilogy, Kristin Cashore's Graceling, Mary Pearson's The Kiss of Deception, Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes, and Marie Lu's The Young Elites.
How long did you work on THE WRATH AND THE DAWN?
I wrote the first draft in four and a half months. Then, once it was acquired, my editor and I spent several more months polishing the draft and making it what it is today--a much better book.
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
I think this book taught me to dream bigger and trust my instincts. But it also taught me a deeper kind of humility . . . the humility that comes from having people you love and respect boil your work down to its essence and insist upon something better from you. I will forever be grateful to those in my life who pushed me to try harder.
What do you hope readers will take away from THE WRATH AND THE DAWN?
I hope readers will be transported to a different world. And I hope they experience things with the characters; that they laugh and cry alongside them. For me, the best books are a wholly immersive experience.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
It's taken over five years and just as many novels for me to reach this point. I queried several books, and I have many, many rejections to my name. The best one was the one addressed to "Dear ______________," . . . When you receive a rejection addressed to Nobody, there's not much to do but laugh.
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?
Gosh, it would be great if I had this AHA moment. I still don't think I've ever had this moment. But I do think the key to writing a novel is simple: BUTT IN CHAIR. Finish your book. Even if the first draft is godawful, you can always make godawful better. There's not much you can do with nothing.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I am almost ritualistic in my habits. I listen to music on noise-cancelling headphones, and I usually write in a comfy chair with a lap desk and my dog sitting beside me. I can't have any distractions. My husband likes to joke that he'd rather wake a sleeping dragon than bother me while I'm writing. And yes, I was quietly christened Smaug in the process.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Tenacity is the most important trait to exhibit if you're trying to be traditionally published. Of course you do need a bit of talent and timing can also help. But tenacity above all.
What are you working on now?
The sequel to THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, tentatively titled THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER.
ABOUT THE BOOKThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORRenée Ahdieh lives in North Carolina (Go Heels!) with her husband Victor and their dog Mushu. Her YA fantasy novel, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, will be published on May 12th, 2015. In her spare time, she likes to cook, dance salsa, and wreak havoc on the lives of her characters.She's also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, as well as an active member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. You can learn more about her here.
What did you think of our interview with Renée Ahdieh, author of THE WRATH AND THE DAWN? Let us know in the comments!
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