When Elm suggested we do a Q&A on Desert Nights for release week, I jumped at the idea. What better way to get to know my co-author’s feelings about our series better, I thought, not knowing what our answers would reveal about our respective feelings on beetles and shirtless men…
We didn’t discuss our answers at all before putting these online, and some of the similarities/differences are very funny.
I’ve known Elm since before I could talk or walk, let alone write, and have loved working on both Desert Nights and these interview questions together. So, say hi to Elm, and let us know if you’ve got any questions for the two of us you’d have liked to see us answer!
What’s been the best bit about co-writing a series together?
All of it! I’ve loved co-writing. If I had to pick just one, I’d say plotting and world-building together. It’s so much easier and quicker bouncing ideas off of each other than coming up with everything in your own head. It feels real a lot quicker, too. I think it helps that we have very similar tastes, so we’re usually very in sync.
What’s the hardest thing about co-writing a series?
Writing things out of order, for sure! Writing a scene where you haven’t read the scene before is really tricky, even with a detailed plan.
Favorite co-writing memory?
I’m going to cheat and give two.
Our writing trip to Porto. We were technically working on individual projects then, but it was some of my favorite co-writing time!
All of our coffee shop time. When I moved to the same city as you, I really appreciated being able to call, say I was having trouble with a scene, and an hour later we’d be in a local coffee shop working through it (with cake).
Who’s your favorite character to write in Desert Nights?
Tarak. He’s such a rascal. I sit there chuckling to myself at the stuff he comes out with.
Who do you think I would say is my favorite character to write?
I think you will say Aliyah! She’s a close second for me. I think she was the character that took us most by surprise. She was only supposed to be a minor character, but as soon as we started writing her, she jumped off the page and forced herself into Zadie’s story.
Which was your favorite scene to write?
Zadie and Tarak’s first meeting in the treasury. The costumed ball scene in Palace of Wishes is a favorite, too.
If you could convince me to write a spin-off about one character, who would it be?
Aliyah. I know you’d take no convincing! And by default Namir would cameo, too.
And, okay, here’s a pitch for you: the story of young Hepzibah. I know we both enjoyed dipping into her backstory in Princess of Smoke, so I think a prequel about her would be cool!
Which book of the series is your favorite so far?
This is like choosing between children! I love them all for different reasons, but having just read through the final draft of Princess of Smoke (book 3), I think I’d have to say that one. There are several whopping plot twists, Zadie has really learned a lot by that book, and the big cast of characters is well established and everyone gets a lot of screen time.
How would you describe Zadie in three words?
At the start of the series: headstrong, gutsy, know-it-all
Which of Tarak’s forms is your favorite?
His shirtless, sexy male form. Sorry, not sorry.
If you had a wish from Tarak, what would you wish for?
Restricted by the same rules? So it has to be a “small enhancement” to myself?
To be able to talk to dogs (especially your new puppy).
Which three characters from Desert Nights would you invite over for dinner?
This is hard to choose…
Elian for the bawdy jokes and because he’ll polish off whatever you put in front of him.
Safiyya because she’ll turn up with an expensive bottle of wine and a thoughtful gift. (I’d sit them next to each other.)
Captain Bahar, for all the shipwreck stories.
If you could turn into a character in Desert Nights, who would you choose and why?
I want to say Aliyah, but I’m not sure I could pull off the shaved head. Maybe Lisha. I’d like to have her terrifying confidence and skill with braiding hair…