Curbing curiosities, or an interview with Intisar Khanani author of Memories of Ash (and a giveaway)



memories of ash

Memories of Ash (The Sunbolt Chronicles #2)

By: Intisar Khanani

Publisher: Purple Monkey Press

Publication Date: May 30th, 2016


In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.

Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.

If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.

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1) If you emptied out your purse, wallet, desk drawer, pockets, backpack, beach bag, saddle bag, or fanny pack, what would we find?


Not very much exciting stuff! For example, in my purse / tote bag, you’d fine the usual detritus associated with a young mother: granola bar wrappers, pens, paper, wallet and phone, random notices from school, scribbled reminders of cool events around town we forgot to attend, and if I thought I might have a few quiet minutes that day, my writing notebook. That’s about it!


2) What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster?


I’m somewhere in the middle. I usually write a 2-3 page synopsis describing the main characters and the overall arc of the story. Then I write the novel. The beginning tends to look a lot like the synopsis, the middle has some similarities, and the end is it’s own beast. By the time I finish revisions, the synopsis rarely has anything to do with the story. I’m not really sure what you call that process…


3) Describe your book in 5 words or less:

Walk with courage.


4) What are some fun facts you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book? (~3 or more)


A lot of the fun facts about my characters might end up being spoilers, so this is a hard question to answer! In terms of world-building, though, I can share a few neat things. All of the kingdoms in The Sunbolt Chronicles are based on real-world historical cultures and places. So…

  1. Karolene, the original setting in Sunbolt (Book 1), is based on historic Zanzibar, and specifically Stone Town, which I had the pleasure of visiting about ten years ago.
  2. The lingua franca of the series is called Tradespeak, and most of the story theoretically takes place in that language—it’s not only the language of trade, but the language of power, adopted by the Council of Mages and taught to every apprentice. In our world, we’d call it Swahili.
  3. When Hitomi heads off to save her mentor in Memories of Ash, she journeys to a city called Fidanya where a massive celebration called the Festival of Guilds is taking place. Fidanya is modeled around Ottoman-era Istanbul, and there actually was an annual Festival of Guilds that was quite likely much more awesome than I managed to depict, complete with sporting competitions, parades, “the burning of the fortresses,” and fireworks. I only wish I could have seen it myself!

    5) Do you have a special story behind your inspiration for the book?

I wrote the first ten pages of the Sunbolt thinking that I was writing a short story. I had no idea where it was going, though, and was unable to write the ending. Two years later, while staying with my in-laws in Pakistan during a family illness, volunteered to stay awake through the night with our ill family member while everyone slept. (I was the most jet-lagged of everyone, so this made a lot of sense.) Sitting up each night in the sick room with my laptop, I picked up that story and Sunbolt, Memories of Ash, and a third novella all came pouring out of me in the space of about two or three weeks. They were a necessary and complete escape for me, and if you look at each carefully, you might see a bit of the illness and sorrow we were dealing with, especially in Sunbolt. Admittedly, each story went through massive revisions before being published, to the extent that the third novella is now utterly irrelevant, and Memories of Ash is an epically long novel now. But that’s how the first drafts were written.


6) Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble?


Hitomi, the heroine of the story, is definitely my favorite character to write in the series. She’s spunky, and smart, and strong, and she never gives up. She has her flaws, but she’s a bit more self-aware, and so she can even see herself doing things she shouldn’t ought to do. I love her for it, love how she struggles with herself, and can’t wait to see how she grows in the next book. On the opposite spectrum, I find it extremely difficult to write the character of Val, one of the allies that Hitomi makes in Sunbolt. He’ll continue to show up through further books (which is all I’ll say for fear of spoilery), but his somewhat ambiguous moral compass, combined with his nature as a breather (think vampire that drinks your life force), makes him exceptionally challenging to get right.


7) If you could ask a character of your choice from MEMORIES OF ASH one question what would it be?


I’d ask the Ghost why he never told Hitomi what he knew about her parents. I think I know the answer, but I want to hear it from him. I suspect, though, that it will all come out eventually…


8) What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?


I really like the scene where Hitomi must drink a potion as part of a reckoning for what she’s done. (I’m trying to be super vague here, since this happens in the last quarter of the book.) The scene is both terrible and cathartic for her, and I absolutely love both the imagery and her voice through it.

9) Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to power through to finish the book?


Oh, there were a lot of those. But the first and second drafts feel so long ago, it’s hard to pinpoint a particular scene. I know I struggled a lot with getting the pacing and content of a particular scene involved the High Council of Mages right. And I wrote at least four completely different final chapters, possibly more. I should go back and check that…


10)  What is your number one writing tip?
Pick a project and finish it—finish the first draft, and then the second, and on until you’re completely finished. Because until you take a project all the way through, you haven’t taught yourself key aspects of your craft. And once you’ve done it, it’s no longer half as intimidating as it used to be.

about the author

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar’s current projects include a companion trilogy to Thorn, featuring the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife, and The Sunbolt Chronicles.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, information, giveaway, and more were provided by Chapter by Chapter.

Comments · 3

    1. Thanks! I loved Memories of Ash and was so happy to get another chance to support the book!

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