[Debut Interview] Summoned, by M.A. Guglielmo

Book Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: September 24th Pre-order on Amazon
Published by: Tule Publishing Group

ABOUT THE BOOK

Zahara, party girl of the paranormal, floats up out of a lamp in Daniel Goldstein’s apartment ready to trick an evil sorcerer into giving up his soul. But Daniel, whose Moroccan grandmother has reached out from beyond the grave to command him to raise a jinn, wants to do good—by stopping a vengeful fallen angel.

The nymphomaniacal, shopping-obsessed Zahara isn’t the otherworldly ally Daniel had in mind. A do-gooder with a dangerous quest isn’t what Zahara’s looking for, either.

Stuck in a magical contract with each other, the two travel to Morocco, where Zahara’s handsome friend Zaid, a jinn who’s converted to Islam, reluctantly joins their quest. As Daniel and Zaid struggle against paranormal mercenaries, bumbling terrorists and their attraction to one other, Zahara is forced to join forces with the fallen angel’s gorgeous but infuriating brother to stop a cataclysmic war between the human and jinn worlds.

Q: Where did you get the idea for Summoned?

A: The mythology behind the novel is the story of Harut and Marut, two overly proud angels—or jinn in some versions—who are sent down to earth to show humans how to resist temptation. They fail, in rather spectacular fashion, and are punished by being hung by the feet until the end of the world. According to some sources, the two gave the gift—or curse—of magical knowledge to humanity.

Q: What’s the story behind the title?
A:The series name, From Smokeless Fire, comes from a traditional description of the jinn as beings created by God from fire. Angels were created from light, and humans from mud, which sounds a lot less exciting.


Q: Can you tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket?
A: Most of the book takes place in Morocco, and although the characters are fictional, the setting isn’t. Many of the descriptions of cities, landmarks, and all the fantastic food are based on locations I’ve visited.

ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS

Q: How long did you take to write this book?
A: It started out as a NaNoWriMo project in 2015, and I worked on finishing and revising it, along with other projects, through 2016. After that, I worked on standard querying, along with different pitch contests. I connected with Tule Publishing through a Facebook pitch contest hosted by the group Writers for Diversity. They’re awesome—look them up and join them if you’re a writer.

Q:What kind of research did you do for this book?
A: Way too much, at least in terms of time management. I enjoy hopping into the rabbit hole of research far too often. But the most fun I had with research was during a visit to Morocco, where I spent an incredibly spooky night listening to scary jinn stories by a fire in the Sahara. I still write with a hamsa around, just in case.

Q: What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
A: Several characters, a middle chapter that required rewriting the entire plot, and more weak verbs and repetitive phrases than I could ever count.

Q: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A: I write out an outline, throw in a collection of disconnected scenes, then never look at it again after I start writing. A pantser in denial, I think.

Q: What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
A: Substantive revision is the hardest. Skimming along and fixing typos and awkward sentences isn’t too taxing, but confronting an enormous plot hole that has to be fixed by major book surgery is downright painful.


Q: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
A: Three hundred thousand words is not a reasonable word count for a first draft.

Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
A: I have a fantasy trilogy in various stages of completion—the result of the mistake mentioned in the above question, a completed YA fantasy in revisions, and two other adult fantasies in development. I’m also currently finishing up the first draft of the sequel to Summoned.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born and raised in Rhode Island, M.A. Guglielmo is the proud mother of two wonderful daughters and works as a neurosurgeon in academic practice. Drawing on her life-long love of imaginative fiction, she writes stories based mostly on Middle Eastern and Southern European mythology and legend.

Q: Tell us about yourself. 
A: I’m a neurosurgeon in academic practice, and I live in Rhode Island with my two daughters, a hyper standard poodle and a rather chubby black cat.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A: Work and family take up most of my time, but I can procrastinate with books, social media, Pokemon Go (I’m addicted to it), books, cooking, more books—so many distractions, so little time.

Q: Which book influenced you the most?

A: I’m a huge fantasy fan, so The Lord of the Rings always comes to mind when thinking about the book that’s impacted me the most. In terms of writing style, my favorite author is Neil Gaiman. I love all his books, but American Gods is one of my favorites.

Q: What are you working on right now?
A: I’m working on the sequel to Summoned, and all I can say is that I’m researching hot sports cars. Because clearly Zahara wouldn’t be caught dead in the boring SUV I drive.

Q: What’s your favorite writing advice?
A: Read your novel out loud to yourself. Yes, the whole thing. It’s amazing how much it helps with revisions.

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