Amani is back and she’s totally ready to kick some butt. And so is Alwyn Hamilton. We were OB-SESSED with her debut ‘Rebel of the Sands’ and we’ve been desperate for the sequel ever since. So we had to pin her down and get a few questions answered.
1. Describe ‘Traitor to the Throne’ in emojis.
2. How different was writing your second novel to writing your first? The biggest difference was writing to deadline. The nice thing about writing a first book is that you can take as long as you need with it. The nice thing with your second book is that you have someone waiting for it. But that means you can’t take all the time you need.
I actually preferred it this way. My twitter bio will tell you I am easily distracted. And that can be a bit hobbling when no one is waiting for the thing you are writing. If you can take a break without accountability, suddenly you’re doing nothing but breaks. Writing TRAITOR was hard, and I don’t know that I would have been able to push myself the way I did if I hadn’t been writing it with a deadline.
And I also really really enjoyed the process of building a very rough draft into a really strong finished book over the course of the editorial process, which was very different than starting with a much more polished draft for book 1.
3. Do you have a favourite quote from the book? The quote that ends chapter 25 is one I like a lot because I feel like it sums up the whole book, when Amani is spying on behalf of the rebellion even as doubts about what she is doing start to creep in:
I tried to shake the feeling that I was a traitor to my whole country with every word I spoke.
There is also one that I really like which ends chapter 15. When Amani, is (spoiler alert) in the palace and face to face with the Sultan, and has been trying to figure out what it is that is so unsettlingly familiar about him. And then, finally manages to place it:
His face was Ahmed’s, but that smile – that smile was all Jin.
4. Now, we’ve heard that quite a few people have ended up sobbing after finishing ‘Traitor to the Throne’ – have you ever made yourself cry when writing? I have actually! I teared up writing something in REBEL 3. And I remember that really distinctly because I was in public. I even tweeted about it at the time because sitting in a café crying over your laptop is just…not a good look.
Writing a scene in REBEL 3 that is making me cry which has NEVER happened before. And of course I'm in public.
— AlwynHamilton (@AlwynFJH) September 14, 2016
I can’t 100% remember, but I think it was while editing the final few chapters. I’ve known how I wanted the whole series to end since I started Rebel, back when I though the whole story would be contained in one book. And I have this weird thing where I write ahead, jotting down snippets and scenes in a separate folder as it comes to me. So I wrote a lot of the end when I was first writing REBEL. So when I went back to it as I sat down to write REBEL 3 I basically had these crucial scenes already, which I had written way back in 2013. And I guess I had sort of forgotten exactly how gut wrenching they were because going back and editing them made me tear up.
I actually told a friend a few months back how the whole series would end, and before I could even get through it she just started shouting ‘nope, nope, nope’ at me to drown me out. So between that and the tears, hopefully that’s something for readers to look forwards to in the final instalment!
5. The world building in Rebel and Traitor is so vivid. Do you have notebooks full of bits and pieces about the world, or do you spin it as you write? I don’t actually. I write down scenes and snippets sometimes, but never facts, those all live exclusively in my head. Thank goodness for copyeditors in case those ever get mixed up!
6. If you could live in Amani’s world, would you? I mean…I wouldn’t walk the whole way across a desert like she did. But I would totally live in that world. Just maybe not at the exactly place and time that Amani lives in. But if I could be born in Miraji a few years after the end of the series that would set me up pretty well. Or there are a few other countries that are mentioned in the books which I feel like I could live pretty happily in.
7. What one thing (feeling/idea/message etc) would you like readers to take away from Traitor to the Throne? The overarching idea of TRAITOR TO THE THRONE wound up being how to reconcile ideology with reality. What you believe is right vs. the things that you have to do, which are maybe not so right, if you want to win for the greater good. It’s sort of a part of growing up that I think, how the world goes from seeming black and white when you’re younger, to suddenly being a whole prism of morality colours as you get into your teens.
I’d say by the end of the book there isn’t so much a final conclusion. It’s honestly a whole lot of questions I don’t have any answers to. And I think that was what the point of writing it was.
8. Please send us a snap of where you work!
If you still feel like you don’t know enough about Alwyn we’ve got the perfect thing for you.
Have you sobbed your way through ‘Traitor to the Throne’ yet?