Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Interview with Tanaz Bhathena for Hunted by The Sky

Hunted by the Sky (The Wrath of Ambar #1)

by Tanaz Bhathena
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: June 23rd 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul's mark is what caused her parents' murder at the hand of King Lohar's ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.

Cavas lives in the tenements, and he's just about ready to sign his life over to the king's army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl--Gul--in the capital's bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance--and discovers a magic he never expected to find.

Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king's domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.

Can you briefly describe HUNTED BY THE SKY and its characters? 

Set in a world inspired by medieval India, HUNTED BY THE SKY follows the story of a girl named Gul, who has vowed vengeance against a tyrant king for ordering the murder of her parents. Trained in warrior magic by a group of rebel women, Gul infiltrates the king’s palace with the help of a reluctant stable boy named Cavas, who has some dark secrets of his own. 

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why? 

Honestly, I love both Gul and Cavas, but there’s another character who has really become a favourite—a character who I can’t mention right now for fear of spoiling the book. 

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere? 

I was struggling with a SF dystopian novel that I’d drafted, which was going nowhere. I loved the characters I’d created, but didn’t like the plot and the setting was weak. A friend of mine suggested trying out fantasy instead of science fiction. That’s when the gears began turning in my head. I decided to change the setting to one inspired by India—more specifically medieval India, a historical period I was obsessed with as a teen. I was also inspired by a group of women from north India called the Gulabi Gang (the Rose Gang), which works for women’s welfare. The Sisterhood of the Golden Lotus was born and I had my main character’s new name—Gul. 

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be? 

“Bad Bad Girls” from the movie, Chak De India 

If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would play your characters? 

Ishan Khattar for Cavas. I would love Tara Gupta, the model on my cover, to play Gul. 

What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date? 

Have a cup of lemongrass chai at the Lake Palace Udaipur in Rajasthan and take the book with you. Ambar will come alive. 

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish HUNTED BY THE SKY? 

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book? 

Every book has its own challenges. For this book, I had to learn more about creating a magical system and a whole world with its own history and myths. It was quite challenging initially, but also a lot of fun! 

What’s next for you? 

The sequel to HUNTED BY THE SKY!

Orders of a hardcover book will receive limited edition swag and be entered to win a $100 gift card. Open to residents of US and Canada.

Tanaz Bhathena writes books for young adults. Her sophomore novel, The Beauty of the Moment, won the Nautilus Award for Young Adult Fiction and has also been nominated for the Ontario Library Association’s White Pine Award. Her acclaimed debut, A Girl Like That, was named a Best Book of the Year by numerous outlets including The Globe and Mail, Seventeen, and The Times of India. Her latest book, Hunted by the Sky, (releasing June 23 2020) is the first of a YA fantasy duology set in a world inspired by medieval India. Her short stories have appeared in various publications including The Hindu, Blackbird, Witness, and Room.

Born in India and raised in Saudi Arabia and Canada, Tanaz lives in Mississauga, Ontario, with her family.


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