I have something very special for you all today – my first ever author interview! This has been in the works for a while, and I’m so excited to share it with you.
Joining me today is Hafsah Faizal, author of We Hunt The Flame, which is her debut novel and the first book in the Sands of Arawiya duology. WHTF was published in the US in May, and will be published in the UK tomorrow, August 8th!
To celebrate the UK publication, I asked Hafsah some questions about her book and her writing career – keep reading for all the gossip…
Hello Hafsah! Thank you so much for agreeing to take part in this interview!
Let’s get straight to it – your debut novel, We Hunt The Flame, has now been on shelves for nearly 3 months, and will soon be published in the UK as well! Has it sunk in that you’re now officially a published author?
Hi Connie! Thanks for having me on your blog! I can’t believe WE HUNT THE FLAME has been out of three months because it still doesn’t feel real. I still have moments when I’m like, wait, I’m a published author?
For those who don’t know much about We Hunt The Flame, can you describe it in 5 words?
Finding magic in ancient Arabia! TAKE THAT!
We Hunt The Flame has been a long time in the making – when did you first have the idea to write this story?
The original idea for WE HUNT THE FLAME came about almost six years before its May 14th, 2019 release. I told myself it was going to be my last attempt at publication, but my business, IceyDesigns, picked up around then, and writing took a backseat.
You’ve said several times that Arawiya, the country in WHTF, is based on Ancient Arabia – what particularly inspired you to locate your story in this setting?
When I began writing WE HUNT THE FLAME, it was set in a Eurocentric kingdom, like much of the fantasy at the time. I wrote about a third of the story with the sinking feeling that it wasn’t working out—I didn’t know what exactly was wrong, so I took a break to craft the world’s map. In doing so, I discovered the general shape of Arawiya—my fictional kingdom—matched that of the Mediterranean region quite a bit, and that’s when it struck me: why was I trying to conform to something I wasn’t? Why not set this story in a place more familiar to me?
The characters in WHTF are so vibrant and wonderfully written! Which character was the most fun to write?
Each character compliments the next, and that’s what I love about writing dynamic casts. I’d say Altair was the most fun to write: he’s sassy, alleviates almost any situation, and yet there’s more to him than meets the eye.
Zafira spends much of her life before the start of the book hidden behind the guise of The Hunter, before eventually becoming comfortable with herself and who she is. Why do you think this is such an important message for people today?
While I wanted to touch upon the issues women face in society today, I wanted to convey another message, too: that we don’t have to sacrifice who we are in order to succeed. We’re so quick to shed pieces of ourselves in order to achieve our goals, but if you remain true to who you are, the right people will accept you. The rest? You didn’t need them anyway.
Nasir also goes on quite the journey through the book. What was the most interesting aspect of writing his story for you?
His arc, most certainly. Nasir is a prince and an assassin who goes through quite a bit throughout the story, and I loved being able to explore the many facets of my favorite brooding boy!
I couldn’t do an interview with you without asking about my favourite snarky general, Altair! He’s such a fun character to read – did anyone in particular inspire you to write him?
I wish he was! But I think it was just my inner comic trying to lighten up my dark book—which is an analogy, I suppose. I’m a pretty serious person by nature, but I do have my moments!
Something that I particularly enjoyed while reading WHTF was your descriptions of the various foods eaten in Arawiya. Were they as much fun to write as I imagine?
Oh, yes. One of my writing goals was to get at least one person to salivate with my food descriptions, and I think I’ve ticked that box several times over! Food is one of my loves—and let’s be real, sometimes it smells way better than it tastes, so I tried to capture that in my writing.
And last but by no means least, WHTF is just the first book in your Sands of Arawiya duology. What can we expect from book 2?
Betrayal. Anguish. A lost eyeball. The end.
Bonus Question: We Hunt The Flame is now officially a New York Times Bestseller – how did it feel when you found out?
I cried. It was my first time crying actual tears of joy, and it was an incredible moment. The most emotionally-packed ten minutes of my life!
The UK paperback edition of We Hunt The Flame publishes TOMORROW, courtesy of My Kinda Book! Make sure you preorder your edition and jump into this magical world with me.
Until next time! x