Interview: Sabaa Tahir, author of An Ember in the Ashes


I volunteered to interview this wonderful author for the Russian publishing house which is going to publish An Ember in the Ashes.
But I thought it would be interesting for everyone who excited to read this book, so here we go.

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Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

1) What inspired you to write An Ember in the Ashes?

As a child growing up in the desert, I was picked on and often felt like an outsider in my isolated home town. This made me feel both voiceless and powerless. My primary solace was reading, and my favorite books to read were fantasy novels.

Eventually, I found my voice through writing. When I decided to write a novel, my childhood inspired me: I knew that the book would be a fantasy because I’d always loved fantasy novels. And I knew that the characters would be people who, like my younger self, felt uniquely voiceless. But unlike my younger self, these characters would speak out and fight back.

2) Can you tell us how you became a published author?

Lots of hard work! I began writing my book in 2007 and spent 6 years on it. During this time, I built the world for my book, researched a ton and revised like crazy. When the book was done, I queried agents, and picked the one who I connected to best. She sold the book shortly after.

3) Can you share your most favorite quote from your book? (If it’s too spoilery, then your favorite quote from another book).

I like this quote and I don’t think it’s too spoilery: “Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.”

4) Could you say something to the future readers of your book from another countries?

First of all, I will be deeply honored if you take the time to read my book. Second, I hope it resonates with you. I hope you find that though EMBER was originally written in English, the themes of hope, courage, family and love, are universal.

Thank you so much, Sabaa!

If you want, you can follow her via