The Wrath and the Dawn author Renee Ahdieh proved with her debut series that she is a master of transporting readers into a whole new world, so we should all be jumping up and down with excitement now that she plans to do it again. Bustle can exclusively announce that young adult author Ahdieh will release a brand new duology! Not only that, but I had the chance to chat with Ahdieh about the first book, Flame in the Mist, which has been called a mash-up of Disney's Mulan and fantasy action movie 47 Ronin. I know, we need this now, right?
Flame in the Mist follows heroine Mariko, who Ahdieh calls "an inventor and an innovator," and it is set in feudal Japan, using legends, myths, and actual history to tell a unique story, not unlike the way she used Arabian Nights to spin her The Wrath and the Dawn yarn.
But don't think this is some copycat.
"Flame in the Mist highlights Japanese food, clothing, culture, and weaponry in a similar way to The Wrath and the Dawn, and, yet — because I'm working with a completely different source of inspiration — is also totally different," Ahdieh says.
Ahdieh, who rightfully believes that Mulan is the best Disney movie, admits that she's a "sucker for the secret girl warrior stories." So buckle up, because we are in for an adventure alongside Mariko.
And don't worry, though we have to wait until May 2, 2017 for the first book, Ahdieh is dropping some inside scoop on the series, her heroine, and what it was like writing The Flame in the Mist.
Bustle: Flame in the Mist is set against the backdrop of feudal Japan. What drew you to this setting for a new story?
Renee Ahdieh: My mother is of East Asian descent, and I grew up in South Korea. Stories drawn from Asian folklore have always been much beloved by my family, and my passion for these tales quickly grew into a fervent love for martial arts films of all sorts.
The literature and the history from this region of the world spans millennia; as a child, I read tales from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and the story of a girl warrior who fights in disguise was always a personal favorite. Not to mention that Mulan is — in my humble opinion — the best Disney heroine to date!
When it comes to Japanese history, the era of the samurai captivated my attention early on, and I soon recognized the parallel between the Western ideal of a knight. This story is basically all the things I loved about my childhood, rolled into one!
Readers were such huge fans of Shazi from The Wrath and the Dawn. What can you tell everyone about your new hero or heroine from this new duology?
Shazi will always be near and dear to my heart! Mariko, the heroine of Flame in the Mist, is definitely different from Shazi, and yet still espouses a strength and a will all her own. I really feel as though Shazi would be great friends with Mariko in time.
Mariko is calculating and intelligent — an inventor and an innovator. Where Shazi would throw herself into the fray without hesitation, Mariko would be the type to carefully pick out a weakness and exploit it, all before making a single move. Let's just say I would not want to challenge Hattori Mariko to a game of chess!
What was your favorite part of writing Flame in the Mist?
I love this question! For me, my favorite part of writing any story is falling in love with my characters. It's that moment when I really feel as though I understand their histories and can't wait to put their perspectives on the page.
But honestly, I love writing fighting scenes and kissing scenes the most. Luckily I got to do a lot of that with The Flame in the Mist
But honestly, I love writing fighting scenes and kissing scenes the most. Luckily I got to do a lot of that with The Flame in the Mist.
The new books have been described as Mulan meets 47 Ronin, so clearly the story is going to be action-packed, but what else can readers expect?
I think readers can expect to see a few tropes turned on their heads. I love taking something familiar and tweaking it ever so slightly . . . just so that it still retains what's wonderful and satisfying about the trope at its core, yet adds something fresh and unique to it. I'm such a sucker for the secret girl warrior stories, and with this series, I sought to add layers of complexity to each character and to each storyline, so as to make it less about the secret and more about the journey.
Both The Wrath and the Dawn and Flame in the Mist are drawn from legends, myths, and actual history — what is similar and different about these two series?
The things that are similar would most likely be grounded in my writing style and the way I like to world-build. I love writing books that are transportive, and my favorite way to do this is through the senses.
Flame in the Mist highlights Japanese food, clothing, culture, and weaponry in a similar way to The Wrath and the Dawn, and, yet — because I'm working with a completely different source of inspiration — is also totally different. The way people of a culture speak--even the way they address each other or carry themselves — varies greatly all over the world, and I really wanted to make these differences distinct and memorable.
What do you hope readers get out of reading your new duology? What are you most excited to share with them?
Mostly I hope readers fall in love with these new characters as I have. Mariko was such a fun character to write, and I had an immensely good time creating foils to her personality, most especially in all the boys she encounters. I think every writer hopes to impart distinct emotions on his/her readers, and I always hope my readers are transported to a different time and place, no matter what kind of book I write.
Images: Giphy (2)