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  • An Exclusive Interview with Intisar Khanani
An Exclusive Interview with Intisar Khanani
Written by
She Writes
March 2020
Written by
She Writes
March 2020

This month we've been featuring beloved author Intisar Khanani and her new book Thorn (available now). She Writes got the chance to sit down with this incredibly talented author and get to know her process better.  

Describe your writing routine.

I … write? I don’t really have too much of a routine. I write when I have available time – when the kids are in school (not happening these days!), or when my husband can cover for me during the day, or after the girls go to sleep at night.

I think the real insight I can offer is that I rarely pick up exactly where I left off. When I start writing each day, I cycle back to whatever I wrote the day before. I might go to the beginning of it, I might go even further back, or I might just go a few paragraphs back. I read and edit as I go, and usually by the time I get to the end of the document, I’m ready to keep writing. I hate staring at a blank space not knowing what to write; this practice helps me re-enter my story so I have enough momentum to know where I’m going with that next sentence.

What is the first thing you can remember writing?

A truly punny book about a little fish who liked to go to school, complete with illustrations of said fish with a backpack. In my defense, I was about four years old.

What inspired you to write your latest book Thorn?

Thorn is both my latest book and my first one. I wrote the first draft of Thorn my senior year of university, in large part just to see if I could. I had always wanted to write a novel, so I set myself the challenge to write a chapter a week, and chose a fairytale I loved as the basis. As such, Thorn is a retelling of the Grimm’s tale, “The Goose Girl.” It’s both dark and whimsical, packed with sorrow and hope. It’s a tale of betrayal, and injustice, and sorcery, and learning to be strong in who you are and fight for what you understand to be right.

I actually indie-published Thorn in 2012, after unsuccessfully searching for an agent for a couple of years. Not only did the book do wonderfully, but eventually it caught the eye of my amazing agent, and here we are today, with Thorn coming out all over again. (For the record, I do have an indie series I’m still working on, The Sunbolt Chronicles, the first two books of which came out between Thorn publications!)

What’s your best trick for getting over writer’s block?

I think the key thing is to understand the source of your writer’s block. I recommend sitting down with a journal and figuring out if the issue is as simple as you’ve written yourself into a corner, or if it’s that your emotionally and mentally exhausted because of life stressors and don’t have the reserves to work creatively, or if your story is dealing with something that hits a little too close to home and you don’t want to face it. Figuring out the cause of your writer’s block makes the cure much easier—maybe you need to power through it, or maybe you need to allow yourself some forgiveness and try to fill your creative well before drawing on it again. Or maybe the solution is something else altogether—it’s up to you to ask that question.

What drew you to writing YA books? Were you an avid reader as a teen?

Very much so! I discovered Tamora Pierce’s Allana books, and Robin McKinley’s Damar books, right around sixth grade, and I was hooked. I read widely and continue to read widely, but in that year I discovered where I belonged. YA Fantasy is my bread and butter, and I doubt I’ll ever really leave it for anything else. While I used to read voraciously, adulting has reduced my ability to consume books, but I still try to average at least a book a week. In the coming weeks, as we continue to hunker down at home, I am looking forward to reading and writing even more than usual.

I hope you are all able to stay safe and healthy in these uncertain times. Sending hugs to all of you.An

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  • Hyba Revising

    This was a great interview to read! I enjoyed the fact that we seem to have similar writing processes, which makes me feel quite good about having confidence in my process and not changing it simply because it's not a process many writers I've met don't have. Thanks for sharing this interview!

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