Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: May 17th 2016
1) What originally inspired you to get into writing?
I’ve always been in the world of the written word. I was a journalism major in college, and my early jobs had me doing a bit of everything: writing, design, and copyediting, but all in the nonfiction world. While I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid, I never thought of myself as a creative writer. I was a newspaper girl. Then one day, my husband suggested I write something about being short. What’s frustrating to me is pretty funny to everyone else: like climbing a step stool to reach the clothes in my stackable washer/dryer…That might turn out to be the best idea my husband ever had because in writing that “memoir” of sorts, my creative side was coaxed out. I went from that to writing my first fiction manuscript, which, over three long, hard years, taught me how to actually use those creative juices to write a novel, and then came Azra and Becoming Jinn and the rest is history!
2) Where did the idea for the Becoming Jinn series come from?
The idea for Becoming Jinn started with a character. 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 the JINN series. 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.
3) Was there any particular character that you liked or felt able to relate to? Conversely, was there any particular character that you disliked?
I’ll take Azra out of the equation here, because it’s hard not to say that your protagonist is the one you have the strongest affinity for. In Circle of Jinn, I love a new character by the name of Matin. He’s funny, he’s full of life, and writing him was a blast. This is going to sound corny but I love all the Jinn characters, and there’s not one that I dislike writing or diving into. The Jinn world has a large ensemble cast, and each one brings something to the table.
4) Were there any scenes in particular that were particularly challenging or easy to write?
This answer is the same for both books. The first pages are always the hardest to write. They must do so much heavy lifting: introduce a world, a character, a story problem, and in the case of Circle of Jinn, a recap. It’s a lot of pressure. In contrast, the endings of each were relatively easy for me to write. I had the vision of each from day one and they were executed exactly as I’d hoped.
5) Are there any particular authors or books that have inspired you?
I love books that incorpórate humor, as I try to do in the JINN series. Therefore, I’m particularly inspired by Rainbow Rowell. I love her books and she has a career I would love to aspire to.
6) Do you have any advice/pearls of wisdom for budding writers?
Don’t ignore how important revision is. That’s where 90% of the story is made. First, second drafts are messy. You are finding the story. You need to commit to revision to make it great. And when I say revision, I’m talking 5, 10, 15 read throughs and changes before it even lands before a critique partner’s eyes. Writing and revising is a huge time commitment and if you can’t do the revision, you will have a hard time sticking through to get a book published. It’s the harsh reality I had to learn!