May 2, 2019

Hafsah Faizal on Ensemble Casts | We Hunt the Flame Blog Tour

It is truly an honor to be able to be a part of the blog tour for We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal, a debut YA fantasy steeped in ancient Arabian culture that pairs a compelling plot with characters that leap off the page. I'll be sharing my thoughts in my full review (coming later this week!), but today, I have the honor of hosting a guest post from Hafsah. Check out her thoughts on the relationship dynamics between the core group of characters in We Hunt the Flame. Without further ado, take it away, Hafsah!

We Hunt the Flame, like much of my creative work, began a certain way before veering in a completely different direction than I ever imagined. It was supposed to be the story of a girl named Zafira, before Nasir decided he’d like some page time too, and as a point-of-view character, thank you very much.

author Hafsah Faizal
Then Altair followed suit, demanding enough attention that he somehow became a main character without even having chapters of his own. The same happened with Kifah, and then Benyamin swooped in, taking the reins as mother hen, herding together a band of misfits who ultimately claimed my heart.

Found family has always been a beloved trope of mine. Think Six of Crows, The Lord of the Rings, The Raven Cycle, and the Lunar Chronicles. Given that the original story idea was sparked by a back-to-back viewing of The Hunger Games and The Lord of the Rings, I think I was heading toward the creation of a found family all along. There’s just something deeply fulfilling about witnessing wholly different people drawn together by a single force, and for that startling realization to strike a short while later: I like you guys. Nay, I would kill for you guys, despite wanting to kill you at the start of this journey. 

At least, that’s Nasir’s thinking most of the time.

We Hunt the Flame is set in a world laced in sorrow and loss. Each of the five members of the zumra has lost something or someone dear to them, yet when they’re together, none of that seems to matter. When they’re together, there’s a sense of belonging, a sense that they’ve found something that can maybe, just maybe, make it all right.

I found this aspect particularly interesting when writing Zafira. She’s not completely isolated at home: she has her mother, sister, and two close friends. She has a support system already in place, but there’s something different about the zumra she becomes a part of on the villainous island of Sharr. I believe it’s the communal grief, but I suppose it could also be attributed to plowing through the face of death with a handful of people that binds her to them in turn.

With Nasir, it was a little more fun, because he’s constantly playing this (failing) tug-of-war with himself, telling himself to kill them even as he draws closer and closer to the four of them.

But what I loved most about writing the zumra, is how they themselves contribute to bringing each of the others to life within the story. If Kifah didn’t exist, you wouldn’t see certain facets of Zafira. If Benyamin didn’t exist, you wouldn’t see certain sides of Altair. As individuals, they’re interesting enough, but it’s as a group that, oddly enough, they truly begin to shine. They are their greatest strength, and I love that the story makes this true.

Thank you so much, Hafsah, for such a lovely guest post! And I can assure you all that the zumra are a fun bunch to read about, and I can't wait for more to come. Before you go, don't forget to check out the information about We Hunt the Flame I've shared below (including links for where you can preorder a copy of your own)!

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
Series: Sands of Arawiya #1
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Buy the Book: IndieBound / Book DepositoryBarnes & Noble / Amazon

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. 

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.


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