I had the lovely opportunity to interview Lori Goldstein. Her most recent book, Circle of Jinn, just released May 17th. I’ve reviewed her amazing books Becoming Jinn and Circle of Jinn. For more information about her publications or general awesomeness, you can visit her website. Without further ado, our interview!
Becoming Jinn and Circle of Jinn revolve around the world of genies. What originally gave you the inspiration to write about genies?
The idea for Becoming Jinn started with a character. Scratch that, it started with a name. A few years ago, there was a horrible 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. It was hearing this beautiful name and picturing this world she would live in that 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 family into the world in which I live—quite literally into my home state of Massachusetts. All it takes is one thing to spark an entire book!
Did you research folklore surrounding genies, or did you create many of your own details? What did you want to show when writing about genies?
I definitely wanted to reflect the lore of the Jinn in the book. Because it’s a contemporary fantasy and I mix up the genie tropes we know and toss in some magic, I didn’t want to go completely true to any specific lore or stories of Jinn, but I wanted it to be an influence, with details I could draw upon and toss in. I read through Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar, a very academic examination of Jinn, and pulled bits and pieces to add to the book. The same with a book called Encyclopedia of Spirits, which, completely opposite of the first book, details how to summon particular spirits, including Jinn. While nothing is overt, they both added some backbone to the Jinn history I made up. Then the rest was the fun part: creating my own mythology of who the Jinn are.
What was your favorite scene that you wrote in Becoming Jinn?
The last scene in Becoming Jinn is my favorite. It is the culmination of everything that began building with page one. I envisioned the end for so long—the final pages were pulled almost word for word from my outline—that it was not only a culmination for Azra but for me as well. Everything comes together exactly as I hoped and just as I was envisioning to lead into the sequel. There’s no better feeling as an author than ending the book the way you want to.
Can you give us any hints about your future publications?
CIRCLE OF JINN released on May 17 and right now I’m in the middle of doing school visits, book clubs, bookstore events, and writing workshops in support of it. I’m *this* close to finishing the writing of what I hope will be my next book. It’s a straight contemporary about a girl, who, similar to Azra in Becoming Jinn, has an obstacle about herself that she has to overcome in order to succeed and thrive in the “real world.” While it doesn’t have the paranormal or supernatural elements and is realistic fiction, it has a lot of the same themes and issues about finding oneself as exist in the Jinn series. And still has my humor in it. I will always write with humor.
If there was one thing you could tell the readers, in order to get them to read your book, what would it be?
BECOMING JINN is truly a contemporary fantasy. It has so much of the “real world” in it, that it reads very much like a realistic book at times. Then the fantasy and magic elements weave their way in as the story goes on and this develops even more fully in the sequel, CIRCLE OF JINN. The series has the ability to capture readers who enjoy both styles of book and has much to offer for each. In addition, whether a character is a genie, a vampire, or a “normal” person, every good story is about that character finding themselves and their path in life. I wanted to explore what it would be like to be the one granting the wishes of others while your own remain unfulfilled. I wanted to write a strong female character, who, though not on the run from the government or some evil corporation, has her own battles to fight from within herself as she struggles to discover where she truly belongs. As a teen and even as a young adult, this was something I dealt with, and though I didn’t have to learn to use magic on top of it, the emotions are something I can identify with—something I think most readers, especially teen readers, can identify with.
Finally, what is one question you wished you were asked more?
Surprisingly, few people actually ask if I’d be a good genie. And I want them to ask it because, the turret is, I’d make an excellent genie! As Azra leans when she begins to grant wishes, using magic in the modern age comes with challenges. Everyone with a cell phone has the ability to out her and her powers. She can’t grant someone’s wish overnight without risking exposure. If a guy’s suddenly flush with cash, the IRS will come a’ knocking. Granting wishes is less a glamorous, snap of the fingers thing and more of a gradual, research-based task. I’m extremely practical and organized and I love research. I’d be a great modern-day genie!
Thank you so much, Lori Goldstein!