Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview with Saladin Ahmed - March 26, 2012

Please welcome Saladin Ahmed to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Throne of the Crescent Moon (The Crescent Moon Kingdoms 1), Saladin's debut novel, was published in February 2012.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Saladin:  Those questions are inseparable for me, as all my favorite writers have influenced me. Some names that come to mind: Fritz Leiber, Borges, Melville, Maxine Hong Kingston, Whitman, Naguib Mahfouz, Chris Claremont, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, Malcolm X, Robert Jordan, Kerouac, Lorca, Emma Goldman, Andre Breton, and Gary Gygax.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Saladin:  Both. I 'pants' big chunks of text - this may sound too mystical for some, but long passages of text sometimes just come to me whole cloth from God knows where. But stitching those fragments together is very much a plotter's work.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Saladin:  Finding time to do it. I have twin toddlers. :)

TQ:  Describe Throne of the Crescent Moon in 140 characters or less.

Saladin:  "Wide-eyed 80s fantasy meets The New Gritty fantasy meets the Arabian Nights." Hey, that's only 70 characters! TWITTER SKILLS FTW!

TQ:   What inspired you to write Throne of the Crescent Moon?

Saladin:  There's a VERY long answer to that, but mostly I suppose it was a kind of natural byproduct of A) Growing up geek + B) Growing up as an Arab American.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Throne of the Crescent Moon?

Saladin:  The 'A whole fucking lot' sort. :) While my upbringing and travels have 'armed' me with a familiarity for the smells and sights and sounds of the Middle East, I also read a ton of books. If I were to recommend a single volume, it would be James Lindsay's stunningly useful Daily Life in the Medieval Islamic World.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Saladin:  Despite our differences in age, Adoulla was pretty easy for me to write - I'm basically a grumpy old man at heart. Zamia, a teenage tribeswoman, was quite tough for me. To quote The Wire writer David Simon: "I tend to suspect that my female characters are, to quote a famous criticism of Hemingway, men with tits. I think it is among my weaknesses..." I'm trying to 'fail better' at this, but it ain't easy.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Throne of the Crescent Moon?

Saladin:  There's a moment, right before the novel's big climactic battle, where a minor character makes the quasi-medieval Arabic equivalent of a 'Your Mom' joke. It's obnoxious to say this about one's own work, but that moment still cracks me up.

TQ:  What's next?

- Finishing books II and III of THE CRESCENT MOON KINGDOMS - a few hints about which can be found here.
- Continuing to work with awesome clients via my novel critique/editing service.
- Wrangling my children.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Saladin:  Thanks a million for having me!

About Throne of the Crescent Moon

Throne of the Crescent Moon
The Crescent Moon Kingdoms 1
DAW, February 7, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

From Saladin Ahmed, finalist for the Nebula and Campbell Awards, comes one of the year's most anticipated fantasy debuts: THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON, a fantasy adventure with all the magic of The Arabian Nights.

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron- fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings.

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, "the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat," just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame's family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter's path.

Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla's young assistant, is a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety. But even as Raseed's sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.

Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near- mythical power of the lion-shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man's title. She lives only to avenge her father's death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father's killer. Until she meets Raseed.

When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince's brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time-and struggle against their own misgivings-to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.

About Saladin

Saladin Ahmed was born in Detroit and raised in a working-class, Arab American enclave in Dearborn, MI. His short stories have been nominated for the Nebula and Campbell awards, and have appeared in Year’s Best Fantasy and numerous other magazines, anthologies, and podcasts, as well as being translated into five foreign languages. He lives near Detroit with his wife and twin children.

Saladin's Links


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the interview, I really need to get myself a copy of this. Hopefully soon.