Author Chat with Intisar Khanani (Thorn), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Intisar Khanani author of
Read on for more about Intisar and her book, plus an giveaway.
Meet Intisar Khanini!
Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters.
To find out what Intisar is working on next, and connect with her online, visit www.booksbyintisar.com.
A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own
Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.
When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.
But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.
With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.
Includes The Bone Knife, a bonus short story set in the world of Thorn.
~ Author Chat ~
- What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I wrote the first draft of Thorn my senior year of university, in large part just to see if I could. I had always wanted to write a novel, so I set myself the challenge to write a chapter a week, and chose a fairytale I loved as the bases. Thorn is a retelling of the Grimm’s tale, “The Goose Girl.” It’s a rather strange story about a princess who goes off to marry her betrothed, has her identity stolen by her maid along the way, and happily goes off to be a goose girl upon arrival in her new land. She also has a talking horse (who never tells anyone what happened) and, in the original, can command the wind, though she apparently forgot to use this power to defend herself from the maid.
This story raised a lot of questions for me, about why a princess would walk away from an apparent place of power and privilege, and what power we really have to choose our own fate when it feels like so many of our life decisions have already been decided for us, and what the ramifications are of walking away from one’s life when given the chance. Thorn grew from this into a story that is both dark and whimsical, packed with sorrow and with hope. It’s a tale of betrayal, and injustice, and sorcery, and learning to be strong in who you are and fight for what you understand to be right.
- Who is your favorite character in the book?
I love Princess Alyrra (aka Thorn) deeply, and she is by far the character I have wept with and laughed with the most. I mean, she’s also the point of view character! But my favorite character is actually a rather ill-mannered, unfriendly horse named Moonflower who only shows up in the second half of the book or so. Moonflower has her own history, and I love how her response is to bite at people, and glower, and only slowly trust them while pretending not to. As ridiculous as this might sound, I intend to keep writing companion novels until I manage to give Moonflower a happy fate. ;)
- Which came first, the title or the novel?
Definitely the novel! Naming things (books, characters, places, all of it!) is the bane of my writerly existence. I’ve actually gotten to the point where I crowdsource almost half my character names on my Facebook page, because I just can’t figure out what to do. This usually happens about a week before the final draft is due, and the placeholder name I’ve been using just won’t cut it. XD
For Thorn, I had no idea what to do with the title and it remained just “my goose girl story” for years. I eventually settled on using the nickname Alyrra receives in her new life as a goose girl, Thorn. It has enough of a fairytale feel to work, and still has resonance with the story itself. I’m calling that a double win!
- Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
First, that writing is hard. Don’t get me wrong, you can love aspects of it, but there are always parts of it that are challenging, scenes that are just miserable to work through or hit a little too close to home, edits that have to be done however exhausting they may be. But it’s also worth it, to develop a story that will stay with your readers. So I guess, really, what I mean to say is that writing takes persistence and hope.
- What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I absolutely love that this cover is a reboot of the cover Jenny Zemanek originally designed for the indie version of Thorn. Just as the story has grown and developed since then (multiple rounds of edits, changes in plotting, and an overall word count increase of 20k words!), so has the cover also developed, with a new teal background and glorious title treatment. But that iconic girl over the arches has remained – my favorite part by far.
- What’s up next for you?
I just turned in edits on The Theft of Sunlight, a companion novel to Thorn that features a new heroine, Rae. You’ll find a short story featuring her at the back of Thorn titled The Bone Knife. She’s a fabulous heroine, dour and dry and imminently practical, and more than capable of doing whatever is needed to save her friends and her people.
In my downtime between edits on that, I’ll be working on the next book in my indie series, The Sunbolt Chronicles, which focuses on the adventures of a super-scrappy, brilliant young street thief with a dangerous secret and a tendency to walk into trouble with her eyes wide open. Hitomi is always a treat to write!
- What would you say is your superpower?
The ability to make and consume spicy hot chocolate. I’m talking a dash of red pepper, some cinnamon and nutmeg, a touch of vanilla, and maybe a bit of ginger powder, mixed up with some Fair Trade cocoa and half the usual amount of sugar to tone down the sweet, and you’ve got magic in a mug. Mmm…
- Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
For every book / series I publish, I choose an organization to support through some of the proceeds of my sales. For Thorn, I chose Heifer International, which makes gifts of livestock to people around the world, training them in sustainable practices and asking that they pass on both training and at least one set of offspring to someone else in their community. This seemed like the perfect fit for a Goose Girl retelling.
For The Sunbolt Chronicles, I make donations to UNICEF, as they support children and their families around the world who are in dire need. Hitomi, my street thief, grows up orphaned on the streets of her adopted homeland, and I’m sure she would have benefited from having UNICEF there to look out for her. ;)
Thank you so much for hosting me here at YABC!
By: Intisar Khanini
Release Date: March 24th, 2020
Three winners will each receive a copy of Thorn (Intisar Khanini) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
The front cover gives off a fairy-tale feel. I like the sound of the story, because it’s about a princess making choices for herself.
The cover is unique and has that fairy-tale look. The synopsis is very interesting. Sounds like an awesome retelling of The Goose Girl.