Welcome to our stop on the Becoming Jinn tour for Lori Goldstein. This tour is hosted by Fantastic Flying Book Club.
Author: Lori Goldstein
Reading Level: Young Adult
Released: April 21 2015
Review Source: Feiwel & Friends
Forget everything you thought you knew about genies!
Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit.
To the humans she lives among, she’s just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she’s learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny.
Mentored by her mother and her Zar “sisters”, Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn . . . and that her powers could endanger them all. As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.
Where did you get your inspiration for Becoming Jinn?
Becoming Jinn started with a character. I knew her before I knew the story I’d put her in. A few years ago, there was a devastating earthquake in Turkey. A mother and her infant daughter were pulled from the rubble and both miraculously survived. That baby’s name was Azra, which is my protagonist in Becoming Jinn. When I heard this beautiful name, I began to picture the world this girl would live in. YA paranormal and supernatural has always been a genre I loved, and in hearing this name and thinking of what would be a cool story for this girl, somehow it all sparked the idea of writing a book featuring Jinn, which for some reason I knew was the term for spirits derived from North African and Middle Eastern lore. A fan of contemporary, I decided to merge the fantasy elements with our modern world and drop Azra and her Jinn (genie) family into the world in which I live—quite literally into my home state of Massachusetts.
Tell me a little about a couple of characters in your book. What kind of personalities do they have?
My main character is Azra, and she’s snarky on the outside but vulnerable on the inside (which is where the sarcasm comes from, as it does for many of us). She’s strong, mentally and in her powers, but she resists this initially. As she forms relationships with her human friends and her Jinn sisters, she begins to accept who she is and what she is capable of. Azra’s best Jinn friend is Laila, who is sweet, generous, and loyal, having stood by Azra even when Azra wasn’t being someone necessarily worth standing by. And yet, Laila, to Azra’s surprise, isn’t the pushover she initially may appear to be. Azra’s human best friend is Henry, the boy next door with smarts and a sense of humor to rival Azra’s. They are kindred spirits, even if they are technically different species.
Were any of the characters in the book inspired by people from your real life?
Inspired is the right word here because none of the characters are wholesale people from my own life. I may take a certain trait or quirk of someone I know and give that to one of my characters, but no one is ever a carbon copy. However, having a little piece of someone I know in a character helps that character come alive for me and is a great way to build what will become their unique personality. Once I have a foothold, I can turn them into entirely distinct individuals separate from their inspiration.
Do you incorporate yourself into your characters' personalities? If so, which character are you most like?
I think, like most authors, there are bits and pieces of people I know, including myself, in most of my characters. Personally, while it’s easy to think I’m most like Azra, my main character, I’m probably more like a cross between Azra and Laila. While I tend toward the use of sarcasm like Azra, she’s more defiant than I’d have the guts to be. I think I’m more like Laila with her quiet loyalty, but the ability to step up when need be, especially for my friends and family.
Which scene(s) did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved writing the ending. I knew what was going to happen from the very beginning, and once I got there, it was so much fun to write. It’s the one scene I’ll say “wrote itself.” And it matched what I had in my head from the very first one-page, plot-point outline I wrote, which is rare and pretty amazing—especially since it basically stayed the same from initial draft through final draft save for some very minor edits.What do you aim to teach your readers through your books?I want readers to have fun while reading—reading is an escape. It’s meant to be enjoyed and to take you some other place and away from real life for a bit. But I also want readers to return to that real life and feel like whatever they are going through, they aren’t alone. I think that feeling of being alone is something everyone, especially teens, feels—even ones who at first glance seem to be surrounded by friends. Internally, we all have our worries and struggles that make us feel alone, as do the characters in my books. I hope by reading about characters who ultimately come out the other side, it will help readers tackle the issues in their own life.
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
Tea. I drink so much tea, I should really have British blood in me instead of Italian.
Describe your book in 5 words?
Modern spin on wish-granting genies.
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
1. Being under five feet tall means I need a step ladder to reach the clothes in my dryer.
2. Half my shoes are technically kids’ shoes.
3. I eat almost anything, but the two foods I can’t stomach are celery and parsley.
4. I detest clutter.
5. I love The Vampire Diaries above all else.
What scene in Becoming Jinn are you most proud of, and why?
The first chapter because it was the most difficult for me to write. There’s a lot of pressure on first chapters, and they need to do so much. It took me weeks to get my first chapter to where it is, and there were times when I wanted to give up, but in the end I’m really proud of it and couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
Thanks so much for having me!
My debut novel, the Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy Becoming Jinn, is a modern spin on the traditional tale of wish-granting genies. It will be released on April 21, 2015, by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s. The sequel will follow in Spring 2016. I am represented by Lucy Carson of The Friedrich Agency.