Hello, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Hello! Thank you for asking. 🙂
I’m not really one of those “always wanted to be a writer” writers. I enjoy it a lot, and I have always written things, but I never thought it would be my profession. I thought I was going to be a university professor, teaching Near Eastern Archaeology, which is what I went to school for. I read a lot, and acquired a profound amount of seemingly random information in the process, and it turns out that this is also really useful when you’re a writer. I spent most of my school time reading about the Bronze and Iron age in the Near East (Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Israel, and Palestine), and that’s really where the idea of A THOUSAND NIGHTS came from.
Your book A Thousand Nights is based off the classic A Thousand and One Nights- has that been a very influential story to you or is it simply a story you thought needed a bit of modernising?
The Arabian Nights haven’t been all that influential to me, to be honest. As I said above, I specialized in the Bronze and Iron ages, and the date usually given to The Arabian Nights is much, much later. I did want to try my hand at a retelling, though, and I thought the frame story of The Arabian Nights, the story of Scheherazade herself, might be a good one to look at. She collected all the stories together, the way that Hans Christian Anderson or Charles Perrault or the Brothers Grimm would do later on in Europe, and she got to shape a culture as a result. But she also had a really horrifying marriage. She was forced into it, and her husband was a killer, even if it was by proxy. During the course of her “thousand and one nights”, she has children by him, and her younger sister is also brought into his harem. It always made me kind of uncomfortable that his turnaround at the end of The Arabian Nights was some sort of ‘happily ever after’. I wanted to see what I could do.
Then, one night at work, I thought to myself: Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife.
Also, the idea of retelling A Thousand and One Nights has suddenly become very popular among Young Adult literature- were you aware of this sudden trend or was it a shock to you? What do you think separates this book from the others that have been released recently?
I had no idea. I started writing NIGHTS back in 2012, so I was only just becoming aware of publishing in general. I think what sets NIGHTS apart is the time period I picked, i.e. the Middle Bronze Age (specifically the late MBA IIA, because archaeologists never met a hair they couldn’t split). I had a lot of limitations in terms of technology, but also in terms of concepts like colour or family relations. This allowed me to play a lot with language, which is one of my favourite things to do anyway.
Exactly! The whole time period of ‘A Thousand Nights’ was one of my favourite aspects and I found it really easy to visualise it! When did you decide to become a writer? And then, what made you sit down and actually write something?
I wrote fan fiction all through university (and, in hindsight, had been playing at fanfic since I was very small), but it wasn’t until 2009 when, finally free of term papers and my Master’s thesis, I tackled a novel. I wrote 85K for NaNoWriMo of that year, and never looked back.
That’s so fantastic! Hopefully when I’ve finished this years exams I can pick up a pen too! The whole appearance of the UK cover of your book is absolutely stunning- do you think that this adds to the desirability of this book and the whole overall experience?How do you think book covers affect the readers?
It’s SO PRETTY.
(Sorry, I just got my copies in the mail yesterday, and I’m not over it yet.)
*ahem* I am really, really pleased with the design and packaging that PanMacmillan came up with. It’s beautiful and supremely detailed, and now that I’m holding my own copies, I can tell you that the paper is lovely too. I certainly love it, and hopefully everyone else will too.
I cannot wait to get my hands on my own finished copy because it s just so pretty! I’m still not over it either and I found out ages ago! They are actually my favourite! You have your own blog yourself (which I will link down below.) Do you find it difficult balancing your writing career with your blog and your personal life too?
FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK. I haven’t blogged on wordpress in a long time. Tumblr is just so much easier (though the archiving is not the best). But when I started blogging, I wasn’t writing as much. I mostly did book reviews, actually, and I rarely review things anymore. It’s a balance as much as anything else. Blogging is hard work, and I really admire people who do it, but I don’t think I’ll ever be very good at it.
I completely agree! Sometimes I find balancing my blog difficult around my school work (post to come) so it’s very helpful to find that others have the same problem! Finally, for any inspired young authors out there (including myself), do you have any advice or tips on how to best approach a writing career or just writing in general?
My advice is: you do you. There will be a lot of people who say things like “write every day!” or “never us adverbs!”, and I think that works most of the time, but the important thing is to play to your own strengths and find your own rhythms. Also, respect that every book is different, and so is every person trying to write one. And maybe read the first 100 pages of David Eddings’s RIVAN CODEX, because it sort of breaks down how to THINK about Fantasy, even if you’re not going to write it the way he did.
Thank you so much for the advice! I will look into that book and read it thoroughly! Your advice has been so helpful!
Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, it was lovely talking to you!
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21524446-a-thousand-nights