Feature: Interview with E. K. Johnston, Author of A Thousand Nights

About the Book:

Release Date: October 6, 2015
Pages: 336
Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air. Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

Doesn’t it sound fantastic? Now read an interview with the author, E. K. Johnston!

1. For those who haven’t heard about A Thousand Nights, can you sum it up for us in a few sentences?

A Thousand Nights is a retelling of the frame story of The Arabian Nights: where a girl is forced to marry a king, and the king murders each of his wives the morning after the wedding night. In my version, the girl stalls her own death by telling stories of her life (her sister, their mothers, their father, their gods), and those stories give her the power to stand up to the king in ways neither of them expected. As her power grows, she faces increased temptation: to flee, to succumb, to overthrow, and must decide what path her future, and everyone else’s, will take.

2. With just under a month till the book is released, how are you feeling knowing it is just around the corner?

I am really, really excited. This will be my third book, and the shine has not tarnished at all. I’m also nauseating nervous, of course. But that’s part of the fun.

3. Early reviews have been fantastic, how has that made you feel?

Pretty good! I wasn’t sure how people were going to react to the style the book is written in, so seeing positive response has been wonderful.

4. What made you choose to write a retelling of 1001 Nights?

I wanted to do a retelling, because I love reading them and wanted to see if I could write one. I picked The Arabian Nights because I hadn’t read a retelling of it, and because I wanted something that I could set in the past. I cheated a bit, because the usual date for the stories ranges from Middle Persian literature to the Caliphate Era, and I set the book about two thousand years before that, because I wanted to write something myth-y.

5. The cover for A Thousand Nights is stunning, did you have much input in the design?

Absolutely none. I had no idea what the cover should look like (if pressed for details, I’d be all “Sand? And maybe…some fabric?” which is why it’s a good thing no one asks me for input), so I was 100% surprised when I saw the final product.

What was your reaction when you saw it?

I was at my sister’s cottage, and the furnace had stopped so my brother-in-law came up to help me start fires and make sure the pipes didn’t freeze, and it was SO COLD because it was winter. He was pouring antifreeze into the washing machine upstairs and I checked my email, and there it was, in my inbox, and I screeched REALLY LOUDLY, and he came running, because he thought something in the kitchen had exploded.

6. What was the process like for writing the book, did it take you long to complete?

It took me 18 days to write the first draft of A Thousand Nights, though the days were not consecutive. In fact, it started as a NaNo book in 2012, and was finished on May 23, 2014. I suspect the lag time was that is was uncontracted until March 2014, and I work best under deadlines. I wrote more than half of it between May 17 and May 23. My process was, in all seriousness, to open the laptop and have an out of body experience.

7. With the release of A Thousand Nights nearly upon us, what are you working on next?

I am: doing promo for my March 2016 release (Exit, Pursued By A Bear), revising my Fall 2016 book (the companion novel to NIGHTS), and drafting my Spring 2017 book. So, you know, keeping busy.

Oh, and launching A Thousand Nights. As you do.

8. What have you been reading yourself? Can you recommend something great for our readers?

I loved THE SCORPION RULES, by Erin Bow more than is strictly reasonable. Also A POCKET FULL OF MURDER, by RJ Anderson. And I was absolutely delighted by Steve Brezenoff’s GUY IN REAL LIFE.

To celebrate the release of A Thousand Nights, Rockstar Book Tours is hosting a fantastic give away where you can win a finished copy of the book. Click here to enter! (US Only)

About E.K.:

E.K. Johnston had several jobs and one vocation before she became a published writer. If she’s learned anything, it’s that things turn out weird sometimes, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. Well, that and how to muscle through awkward fanfic because it’s about a pairing she likes.

You can follow Kate on Twitter (@ek_johnston) to learn more about Alderaanian political theory than you really need to know, or on Tumblr (ekjohnston) if you’re just here for pretty pictures. E.K. Johnston is represented by Adams Literary.

That concludes my stop on the A Thousand Nights blog tour, stay tuned for my review of the book coming soon, and make sure you check out the rest off the stops on the tour – click the banner below for the full schedule!


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