Merry Christmas everyone! 🙂
I’m very excited to have debut author Alwyn Hamilton on my blog today to talk about her upcoming YA Fantasy, Rebel Of The Sands!
Quick Author Bio: Alwyn Hamilton was born in Toronto and spent her childhood bouncing between Europe and Canada until her parents settled in France. She grew up in a small town there, and attempted to read and write her way to new places, developing a weakness for fantasy and cross-dressing heroines. She left France for Cambridge University to study History of Art at King’s College, and then to London where she works for an auction house. (source: TheSweetSixteens)
Her book sounds absolutely amazing and has been one I have been highly anticipating! & If you are interested I also featured Rebel in a Waiting On Wednesday post! 🙂
If you haven’t already, definitely add her book to your 2016 TBR!
With that said, on with the interview:
- I cannot wait to read your book! Its at my number one spot for 2016. For those who don’t know, what is your book about?
Thank you so much! REBEL OF THE SANDS is a Wild West meets Arabian Nights, YA Fantasy. Amani Al’Hiza is a sixteen year old sharpshooter from a dead end desert town who dreams of escape. Her fate becomes tangled with a rakish foreigner who is keeping secrets and the pair wind up on the run across a desert crawling with dangers, pursued by the Sultan’s Army.
- Not only does the story sound fantastic, but the cover is absolutely beautiful! Did you have input when it came to the cover design?
I had a tiny amount of input with my agent, but it mostly just involved some tiny tweaks but mostly I just left it to the experts. I actively avoided trying to imagine a cover before seeing anything, because I knew if I got stuck in an idea of what it should look like I’d risk being disappointed by the final result. I feel so lucky because I absolutely love my cover, so any feedback I gave was mostly exclamation marks.
Penguin did an amazing job w/ the cover! ❤ Here it is:
3. Did you always want to be an author?
Yes, for as long as I can remember. I always wrote. Somewhere my parents still have the story I wrote when I was about 5 or 6, called “The Tangle Monster” about a monster who would tangle a little girls’ hair. My mother typed that up. Then when I got a little bit older I would write long rambling multiple POV fantasies that were going nowhere. Though I did go through a brief period in my teenage years when I convinced myself I should aspire to do something sensible but creative (like work in advertising, or TV).
Its great that your dream has come true!
4. How has the road to publication been from when you got the idea, to now awaiting the book’s release in just a few months?
Very different in places! I started this book off writing it by myself with no knowledge that it was going to become anything, and that was long and kind of meandering because I was working to my own pace and no deadlines. And then I signed with my agent and suddenly everything started happening very quickly! It’s a different, winding road for everyone I think.
- What inspired you to write this story? Was there a lot of research involved?
I originally had the idea to write a Western about a girl with a gun, but I didn’t actually want to be constrained by the real world in terms of history or lack of magic. So while trying to figure out what I wanted to combine it with the idea struck me to combine it with the mythology of the 1001 Nights because of the desert element in both.
I’d say I did a lot of very ad hoc research. I did a lot of reading of folk tales and travel accounts and histories so on to get a real feel for what I was writing about in general. But I also sometimes just had to sit down and look up what the clothing or food might be. And then there’s the advantage of getting to make a lot of things up when you’re writing Fantasy.
What a unique mix of genres!
- Is there any place Miraji was modeled after in particular? & What inspired you to add djinni into this story?
Miraji has elements from a lot of different cultures and some I’ve made up too. It’s an amalgamation of the desert of the wild west and of the countries in the Arabian Peninsula, with some Turkish Elements and some vibes of the Napoleonic occupation of Egypt. But mostly it’s pulled from folktales and fairytales and legends. And that’s where a lot of the magical elements like the Djinni, come from, the inspiration drew from a mythical version of Arabia to set the story in.
Wow! Its amazing you were able to blend many cultures and weave it into Rebel!
- How many books are planned/ currently in the works for Rebel Of The Sands?
REBEL OF THE SANDS is currently first in a trilogy. I’m working on the 2nd one at the moment.
Wow! Starting book 2 already? Hope its going well! 🙂
- With Rebel Of The Sands being YA, do have any favorite YA books?
I have hundreds! I don’t think anything has stuck with me or shaped me like the YA that I read when I was an actual teenager though. ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine, THE HERO AND THE CROWN by Robin McKinley, ARROWS OF THE QUEEN by Mercedes Lackey and ALANNA by Tamora Pierce all stand out.
In newer YA I love Rae Carson’s GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, Marie Rutkoski’s THE WINNER’S CURSE, Leigh Bardugo’s GRISHA series and Marie Lu’s LEGEND stand out.
So many great choices! I love Legend & The Winners Curse too ❤ ❤
- What was your writing process like for Rebel?
Any tips for aspiring writers?
I think everyone writes differently. I tend to let the story live in my head for a very long time. I play with ideas and characters and imagine scenes which are disconnected at first and then start linking them up with plot. When I get down to writing it means I have most of the pillars in my head so I know where I’m going and what’s on the way. I tend to create one draft which is essentially scaffolding, and then go back and make the words better.
I think the one tip I would give writers is make sure you have a story going in and not just an idea, they seem similar but one will take you all the way to the end of the book, and the other fizzles out pretty quickly.
Great advice! & final question:
- Do you have a favorite character you are excited to introduce to readers? (mini-spoiler)***
Jin seems to be a favourite among early readers, so am excited for rest of the world to meet him. But Shazad, who is introduced towards the end of the book, is maybe my favourite character to write and I hope people enjoy meeting her too!
Can’t wait to meet all these wonderful characters! 🙂
Thank you for this wonderful interview Alwyn!
Rebel Of The Sands Comes Out March 8, 2016!