(Blog tour banner courtesy of the fab ladies at Fiction Fare.)
Hey bibliovores! Today is my stop of the blog tour for Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, and I'm interviewing this wonderful author. You MUST check out Rebel of the Sands! Easily one of the best books I've read. Get to it - you won't regret it!
Meet Alwyn Hamilton!
Alyssa: Hi Alwyn! Welcome to The Eater of Books! – and congratulations on your debut! What has your debut experience been like – especially with two big publication dates that were months apart?
Alwyn: Thanks so much Alyssa! It’s been kind of ideal that there was a month between UK release and US release because it means I get to be in the UK to launch here, and go to the US to do the Penguin Teen Tour when the book releases in North America. Had they been at the same time I fear I would have been forced to borrow the Duplicator from Calvin & Hobbes to be in 2 places at once. I’m also glad I haven’t been allowed to spend the beginning of 2016 obsessively waiting for March 8th and had plenty going on with school visits and so on, and has made the last month both go by insanely quickly and seem insanely long.
In terms of things that really stand out from debut’ing, well I totally froze up the first time I saw REBEL OF THE SANDS in a real live bookstore here in the UK and I look forwards to going through my “Book Launch Wedding day Jitters Freakout” for a 2nd time when March 8th hits.
Alyssa: What are some books that influenced you while writing or coming up with the idea for Rebel of the Sands?
Alwyn: I think the two which had the biggest influence came out before I was born. Tamora Pierce’s ALANNA and Robin McKinley’s THE BLUE SWORD always come to mind more than any others. I read those both young that they totally unconsciously influenced me because they are such a big part of who I was as a young reader.
But I also think it took reading newer YA Fantasy authors to remind me, as an adult, how it was done, because I’d only been reading adult fantasy and YA in other genres until more YA Fantasy started being published. In that way, I owe an influence to Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING, Alexandra Bracken’s BRIGHTLY WOVEN, Rae Carson’s THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS and Leigh Bardugo’s SHADOW & BONE.
Alyssa: Those are four of my all-time favorite books/series/authors! Such great choices. :) To which character do you find yourself most similar?
Alwyn: All of my characters have a little bit of something of mine. But…if you take away an athletic fighting skills Shazad comes to mind. I’m not actually as gutsy as she is, or even close to as elegant and pulled together as she is (Amani has my haphazard messiness). But she’s a version of me: Me at my most professionally confident and competent. She’s the me that regularly had to say things like “No, you can’t speak to my manager or our chairman, you’ll discuss this with me” when someone wanted to go over my head to a man, and was trusted, if not with lives, with the 6 employees and setting budgets.
We’re also both older sisters to younger siblings, and she is one of the only characters who actually had a happy upbringing where she was supported by two solid parental figures. We both have an independent streak where we want to just get on with things and get it done. We both like to control any situation we’re in and I feel like we’re both the sort of person who just ends up taking over group projects in High School for everyone else’s own good. I can also usually see every side of an argument or a problem, but to the point that I find it hard to make a decision sometimes, which is not a problem Shazad has. So I guess she’s an even more competent version of me at my most competent.
Alyssa: Tell us a little bit about the USA cover change, to match the UK cover?
Alwyn: The original concept for what is now the final cover actually came from the U.S. It was a beginning of a concept which bright swooping lines at the border (being an Art Historian I should definitely have a better word for those than that) with the same style of lettering. The U.K loved it and decided that whatever the U.S did they would match because they hadn’t come up with anything they liked better.
The U.S cover then changed direction, to that gorgeous glowing symbol of the sun compass, which was totally different but equally beautiful. The UK decided to stick with the original concept the U.S had floated and Will Steele, the incredibly talented cover designer at Faber, developed the U.S idea into this final cover.
The covers co-existed for a while before the U.S decided to go back to their original idea. I was deep into drafting Book 2 by this point, and I have to admit, I was realizing that I didn’t have any kind of symbol in book 2 that was as significant as the golden sun compass. I had started to wonder what would be pulled from Book 2 for the cover of the U.S edition. The change to match put a cap on my “I wonder if I should put a golden ring in Book 2 to make the cover easy?” thoughts. Anyway, since the UK had turned that idea into a finished product already, they wound up using Will’s design. I loved both covers but it feels really right for the two English language versions to match. And having seen both the paperback and the hardback in the flesh, I can tell you they are unbelievably decadently gorgeous with their gold and blue.
Alyssa: I especially love the shiny finish. :D What’s the most common question that you’ve been asked when a reader finishes Rebel of the Sands?
Alwyn: Often people pause when they are almost finished, to shout at me about p.302 in the UK version. I know the page number because people trying not to be spoilery just send me a version of “p.302!! How very dare you?!” (I’m paraphrasing). I’m not sure what page it is in the U.S version, but I actually don’t want to check because look forwards to finding out if and when U.S readers tweet me about the same thing. And I don’t want to spoil anyone by having them anticipate it.
But when people actually finish it, the most frequent question I’ve probably gotten is “Will there be a sequel?” which is a lovely thing to be asked.
Alyssa: I lowkey want to go hunt down a UK reader with a copy and see what scene that was! ;) Can you tell us anything about what you’re currently writing? Book two? Tease us a little? :)
Alwyn: So yes! There is a sequel and it is indeed what I am working on at the moment. There is almost a real title for it, but while at the height of my drafting delirium I nicknamed it, “REBEL 2: This Time It’s Palatial.” From which you can probably gather that at least some of it takes places in a palace. In terms of what else you can expect from it...Harems, Djinn, Uncertain Alliances, Unexpected Betrayals and getting to meet a few characters only mentioned in the first book.
Alyssa: Harems. o_o I'm so curious (more so than before!). So that’s it from me - thank you so much for joining us today, Alwyn!
Alwyn: Thank you so much for having me! :)
Find Alwyn online!
About the Book:
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Book One of the Rebel of the Sands series
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Summary (from Goodreads):
She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.
Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.
Follow the tour!
3/7 - Fiction Fare - Guest post
3/8 - What Sarah Read - Interview
3/9 - My Friends Are Fiction - Book playlist
3/10 - Once Upon a Twilight - Top 10 list
3/11 - Love is not a triangle - Review
3/14 - Katie's Book Blog - Interview
3/15 - Forever Young Adult - Would You Rather?
3/16 - Alexa Loves Books - Book playlist 2
3/17 - The Irish Banana Review - 25 Random Things About Me
3/18 - Mundie Moms - Review & Giveaway
3/21 - Two Chicks on Books - Guest post 2
3/22 - The Eater of Books! - Interview
3/23 - It Starts at Midnight - Top 10 #2
3/24 - Book Briefs - Dreamcasting post
3/25 - IceyBooks - Review