This will be the first year that I will be doing NaNoWriMo. And the first time I’ll be joining Cait and Sky in their annual linkup, Beautiful Books. If you want more information on this linkup or on NaNoWriMo, head on over to the lovely bloggers’ blogs.
Although this is my first time doing NaNoWriMo, I’ve actually attempted to write many novels before this (Keyword: attempted). The story idea I have now though is one I’m most serious about and that’s why I’m more motivated than ever to write 50,000 words this November. I have done most of the outlining, but I still have a lot more to plan. I have only 7 days for prepping and I’m officially freaking out but still kinda excited.
1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I didn’t come up with the idea at once. I knew I wanted to write a novel centered around Ethiopian Mythology because, although I live in the U.S, I am an Ethiopian. I know a lot about the diverse culture, about its history and the many folktales; and I am in love with it all so I wanted to incorporate all that to possibly bring a new light in the way people view Africa. Aside from that, I’ve also always wanted to find books that delve into Social Anxiety Disorder and there aren’t many; since I have it myself, I thought I could touch upon it through my protagonist.
2. Describe what your novel is about!
The story is set in Abyssinia, a nation ruled by a queen who is heavily influenced into tyranny by a handful of enchanters that have infiltrated the court. Everything is rigged into benefiting the nobles, and as a result, common people are left barely making ends meet. In the midst of it all is Salem, a merchant’s daughter, who’s terrible at working for the family shop. She constantly makes mistakes and ends up losing them a lot of money. Her dream is to be able to afford education at the local women’s school so she could work in the scholarly city, Elam, and sustain her family. But with the harsh conditions and with her non-existent trade skills, it seems impossible.
So when she gets the opportunity in the form of the grumpy, blunt Ezana, she makes a deal with him and they set off to Berhan to meet one of the native enchanters- Salem to possibly bribe them into turning up her family’s luck a notch and Ezana…for undecipherable reasons. During their journey, they get tangled up with the paths of Abel– the erratic restless thief with a pet fox, Kaleb- a Budda ( a mythological human who can curse anyone with merely a glance) and Kaleb’s older sister who is more Abel’s partner-in-crime than a responsible sibling. You have a motley crew, each with incentives and goals of their own to pursue the most feared part of the land, on an adventure that promises curses and thieves and rebels and mythological creatures.
3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!
4. Introduce us to each of your characters!
- 18-years old
- Abyssinian; big curly hair; short and skinny stature
- Has social anxiety
- Very responsible and thoughtful, but overly stubborn
- Lives in Merkato (market town of Abyssinia
- Comes from merchant family
- Loves honey wine more than anything
- 19-year old
- Abyssinian; tall & almost elf-like
- Notorious thief from Semien, Abyssinia
- Erratic, mischievous, restless and infuriating
- Has a pet fox (as is common in Semien)
- Constantly on the run bc wanted at many cities (including home)
- 18- year old
- Aidhan; green-eyed & has permanent frown
- Calculating, cold and a bit arrogant
- Comes from a noble family of foreign descent
- Bears a lot of responsibility with family’s legacy
- 16 year old
- Half-Abyssinian and Half- Eluhanian; brown, curly & unruly hair
- Loyal, calm & composed, too mature for his age
- Takes care of older sister
- Is a Budda– inherently has “the evil eye” so can unwillingly curse ppl with his gaze
- Wears something around his neck to suppress his ability
5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
For this novel, I outlined. Although I’m not finished, I have a lot done in the aspects of world-building and characters. So far I know most of what happens but I haven’t finished plotting- honestly it’s the worst part for me. I researched a whole lot…mostly for the mythology and culture; even the names took me long to choose. And then of course there is Pinterest!! I go on there almost everyday; it’s where I get my inspiration and it’s where I got all of these pics.
6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
I’m looking forward to writing interactions between the characters and just fleshing out their personalities more as I go. Characters are my favorite aspect of both reading and writing.
7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
Fantasy, Ethiopian Mythology, enchantments/curses
8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
Salem’s initial goal is to help her family earn a good living and to be able to afford school so she can be educated, but it later evolves into something else. Her social anxiety stands in the way of her being successful in her family business. But all in all, the group of enchanters at the nation capital influencing the court are the major threats as their influence brought about the harsh living conditions.
9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
Salem learns a handful of things throughout- she discovers a lot about herself and she learns a lot from her companions.
10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
The theme of this book is friendship and camaraderie, it’s about choices and identities, most of all it’s about self-acceptance and self-respect. At the end of this novel, I want readers to have fallen in love with the characters, to have sympathized and laughed and cried along.