Today I’m hosting Amber Lough’s blog tour for The Fire Wish, an unique story of magic and Jinni set in 9th century Bagdad (mostly). I met Amber earlier this year at Rochester’s Teen Book Festival where she was talking about being a new author and handing out ARCs of her book. I was lucky enough to get one, and get it signed! Thank you so much for this awesome post, Amber!
I asked Amber about her research for The Fire Wish and the process of actually writing it. This is what she had to say (complete with her own gifs, my kind of writer), take it away Amber!
Most people want to know how much research I did for The Fire Wish, which is difficult to answer. Much of what I know about the Middle East I learned while I was living there, but I still had to do quite a bit of research to find out what Baghdad was like in the 9th century, including what the people wore, what they ate, what their dwellings looked like and were made of, etc. As for the Cavern, although I made it up, I wanted it to feel real, so I researched caves, crystals, jinn mythology, and some of the Koran. (The Koran is long, and the English translation doesn’t really count, by the way.)
The best way to research anything in history is to catch yourself a Doctor. (However, I’m not a single British woman, so the Doctor didn’t show up in my time of need.)
The second best way is to scourge your local University-level library. Unfortunately in my case, most of what I needed was in Arabic. I tried to teach myself Arabic, but yes, that was a lost cause.
In the end, the Internet’s your friend. (And the oft-hilarious Google Translate.) There are heaps of rare documents and maps to lose oneself in. Some days, I’d be so lost in research, I’d forget I had a book to write!
I can write quickly, but once I hit a snag –say, “What sorts of birds would have been in this garden?” – I’d be lost in ornithology reports, youtube videos, and audio files. In one case, I wanted to know what Baghdad looked like in the 9thcentury, and I was shocked to find actual diagrams of the city pre-Mongolian invasion.
Which leads me to my writing process.
Can I tell you a secret?
I don’t have a regular writing process. (Not anymore.) When I started writing The Fire Wish, I only got an hour or two a day to work on it. I was very disciplined. Then, at one point, I had loads of hours in which to write. I did write, but I also discovered Tumblr and Twitter. (Shh!) Fast-forward to now, when I am in the midst of an international move, have two kids at home, and only have time to revise things. It takes me a very long time to get into the scene and write something fresh, and I don’t have any of that right now. But, the sequel is done and as soon as I get some time, I’m attacking a different story – something not set in Najwa/Zayele’s world.
When it gets to actual writing, I’m a planner-pantser. I plot out things – and then completely ignore them and pants the scenes. Make sense? I drive myself (and my critique partners) crazy.
Thank you for hosting me today!
Thank you to Amber Lough for this guest post! The Fire Wish is available tomorrow, July 22nd.
My review of this book can be found HERE.