The past month of July in #GERMreads, we had the pleasure of reading The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh, a YA retelling of Arabian Nights.
After discussing the book with each other, we now have the opportunity to speak with the author and get some answers to the questions we had while reading.
Short synopsis of The Wrath and the Dawn from Renée Ahdieh’s website:
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 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 break the cycle once and for all.
First off, congratulations on your debut! I have seen that so many people have been reading (devouring, more like) and absolutely loving it, myself included.
You decided to retell the classic Arabian Nights. What made you go in that direction over writing an original story? And why this story specifically?
Thank you so much. I’m the child of mixed race, so I always knew I wanted to bring a different world to life. As for why I chose this particular story — my husband’s family is Persian, and there’s this beautiful tapestry on their living room wall. At a distance it looks like a hundred vignettes strung together at random. When I asked my mother-in-law, she told me it was tales from 1001 Nights. After that, I began to consider what this story might look like as a YA novel.
What kind of liberties — if any — did you take in your retelling, and why?
Many! It’s loosely based on the story of Scheherazade, so there are a few similarities and many differences. I think it’s important when writing a retelling to make the story your own.
In your Comic Con panel, you talked about operating “in a space of gray” and that there are no heroes or villains. I definitely got that while reading and found it very intriguing. Can you expand on that a little bit?
I feel that books are a great place to truly explore the inner workings of a character’s psyche. We can always postulate what a character in a movie may be thinking or feeling, but it is in the pages of a book that we can actually see into his/her head. So I knew I wanted to explore that complexity and the morally grey area of people in turmoil.
How did you personally achieve that balance?
I’m not sure I have, haha.
I think you definitely did, personally. The stories that Shahrzad tells all have a resounding moral or lesson to them. Is there some kind of take-away we should be getting from the story as a whole?
That all choices have consequences. And that it is how we choose to deal with those consequences that often define our lives.
That’s great. Do you have any advice for young writers?
Don’t listen to people who offer you advice. Go with your gut and always strive to work harder.
Finally, is there anything you can tell us about the sequel?
There will definitely be more kissing and more sword-fighting. Perhaps even a magic carpet ride or two!
Can’t wait! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I am already eagerly awaiting the next book — even more so now!
#GERMreads: Don’t forget that we’re still reading Sophie Kinsella’s Finding Audrey for the rest of the month. Our next check-in is the 31st to discuss pages 150 to the end. See you all then!