Meet the Newbies: Alwyn Hamilton
Meet the Newbies is a blog event hosted by Rachel at A Perfection Called Books dedicated to introducing you to the “newbie” published debut authors. In this event, expect to learn more about the authors, their books, and silly fun facts!
Author Most Likely To Communicate through GIFs instead of words.
Nickname: Alwyn Hamilton
First Day of School: 8th of March 2016
Homeroom: Viking (Penguin)
Grade: YA Fantasy Adventure
Extracurricular Activities: Theatre, Art, Doodling during Philosophy and Shipping Fictional Couples
Favorite Class: Art, History and Theatre
Favorite Quote/Motto: I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I’ve ended up where I needed to be – Douglas Adams
How did you come up with inspiration for Rebel of the Sands?
The very first inkling of an idea for Rebel of the Sands was that I wanted to write about a young female sharpshooter. She was conceived as an answer to a lot of sexist comments I was seeing at one time about female characters not being able to be action heroes in the same way male characters were because they were just not biologically as strong. Obviously this bugged me because there are so many things beyond physical strength that can make for a fighter in fiction, brains, magic, long distance weapons. And thus the girl with the gun was conceived, a Blue Eyed Bandit who could shoot the glass out of a man’s fingers across the bar.
After that it was pulling together lots of things I loved into one story, cross dressing girls, rebellions, heroes who are hiding something.
I loved this book because of the mash up of genres, western and fantasy. Why did you choose to combine these elements?
When I conceived the nameless “Blue Eyed Bandit” as a sharpshooter she clearly belonged in a western. Except I didn’t want to write a western. I kept thinking what else I could combine it with that would be interesting, and I finally hit on the idea of Wild West Meets the Arabian nights because there is so much crossover in the genres, desert settings, horses, bandits, strong religious societies, etc. etc. and after that Amani being The Blue Eyed Bandit took on more depth and meaning and the rest of the story came together around the world.
What kind of research was involved to create your world and characters?
I feel like a lot of it came initially from previous snippets of bits and pieces I already knew about and had somehow internalized. A fact about the French Revolution here, an image from my childhood copy of 1001 Nights there and so on. When I went to expand the world, while I do have some reference books for clothes and food and things like that, I mostly I read a lot of folktales to try to get a feel for the stories and the beliefs and the types of people that build the world.
If you could re-write this book from a different character’s POV, who would you choose and why?
Oooh! I love this question! If the story were to follow the same path it would have to be Jin’s POV because he is the only character who is consistently on the journey with Amani from beginning to end. But I think that would take some of the fun out of it because he knows all the secrets that are revealed in the last third of the book and so the reader would know too.
So if I were picking I would chose to rewrite from Shazad’s POV. It would all be structured totally differently and Book 1 of that trilogy would begin with the early days of the rebellion and Shazad meeting Ahmed and that book would probably end with the Sultim Trials. Amani and the story she brings with her would then be a new character introduced in book 2 of Shazad’s narration.
How has becoming a full-time writer this year impacted your overall writing and lifestyle?
Writing while balancing the 9-5 had always worked well for me because it gave me something to take me away from the book when I couldn’t see the woods for the trees. Which is great…when you’re writing on your own timeline. Writing on deadline while doing both made me feel very fractious and so I’m thrilled to not be like that anymore.
On the good side of things, it means everything I do is part of my single job and not eating into time of the other job. I’m not sending out swag when I should be doing a spreadsheet and I’m not answering work emails when I’d rather be in the writing groove. On the flipside, it means I really have to make an effort to see other humans sometimes, and that I have to be wholly responsible for my own time. It’s amazing how much of your day you can fritter away when you don’t have to be at a desk at 9 a.m and how much coffee bills rack up when you’re working from cafes.
The other realization I had just the other week is that there’s no one to call in sick to. And I’m a mean boss to myself, I wouldn’t allow myself to take a sick day until my body actually stopped functioning. I was never committed enough to the 9-5 to die for it like I am for the book.
You’ve had major book releases in three countries (Italy, UK and the US), how has it felt to have your book known and read internationally?
I’m still trying to find a way to answer the question “What countries is your book going to be published in?” without sounding totally obnoxious. But I think there’s a certain cachet to saying it’s coming out in foreign countries that makes people who don’t really understand the bookish world take it a bit more seriously somehow. At least this is the sense I get when I talk to people!
But I was lucky enough to get to be in Italy just after the book came out for Lucca comic-con which was amazingly cool and such a vivacious enthusiastic environment to get to launch the book in for the first time. UK is home so getting to walk into pretty much any Waterstone’s and see Rebel on shelves is totally mind bogglingly wonderful! And now I’m in the US to launch it here and getting to tour with authors who I read when I was rediscovering YA and hoping no one notices the fangirl who somehow fluked into a book in their midst.
Can you give us any hints to what Rebel 2 will have in store for us?
My (joke) working title for a while was “Rebel 2: This Time It’s Palatial” which gives you a good idea of what one of the new settings might be…So a lot of it takes place in the palace, and the harem, and a setting totally alien to the rough and tumble desert in book 1.
In book 2 the line between good and evil and right and wrong becomes more blurred, the magical creatures become more powerful, some old characters return and some new ones step into Amani’s life with a fair amount of calculated dramatic flair. And the stakes are higher.
About the Book
Rebel of the Sands
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.
About the Author
Alwyn Hamilton was born in Toronto and spent her childhood bouncing between Europe and Canada until her parents settled in France. She grew up in a small town there, which might have compelled her to burst randomly into the opening song from Beauty and the Beast were it not for her total tone-deafness. She instead attempted to read and write her way to new places and developed a weakness for fantasy and cross-dressing heroines. She left France for Cambridge University to study History of Art at King’s College, and then to London where she became indentured to an auction house. She has a bad habit of acquiring more hardcovers than is smart for someone who moves house quite so often.
1 Pre-Order or Finished Copy of Any Debut Novel Featured on Meet the Newbies
International (as long as The Book Depository ships to your country)
Win a finished copy of Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. Open Internationally!