We’re so excited to be kicking off our tour for The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad. We hope you’re just as thrilled as we are to be celebrating the upcoming release of this book, and we hope you’ll tune in to find out more about the book and enjoy each and all of our host’s stops on this tour.
If you haven’t already, make sure to pre-order The Wild Ones while there’s still time, and add it to your TBR shelf!
The Wild Ones
by Nafiza Azad
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Releasing on August 3rd, 2021
YOUNG ADULT FICTION—Fantasy
TRIGGER/CONTENT WARNING(S): Sexual and physical violence, depicted discussions of depression and suicide
From William C. Morris Finalist Nafiza Azad comes a thrilling, feminist fantasy about a group of teenage girls endowed with special powers who must band together to save the life of the boy whose magic saved them all.
Meet the Wild Ones: girls who have been hurt, abandoned, and betrayed all their lives. It all began with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother and sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escapes, she runs headlong into a boy with stars in his eyes. This boy, as battered as she is, tosses Paheli a box of stars before disappearing.
With the stars, Paheli gains access to the Between, a place of pure magic and mystery. Now, Paheli collects girls like herself and these Wild Ones use their magic to travel the world, helping the hopeless and saving others from the fates they suffered.
Then Paheli and the Wild Ones learn that the boy who gave them the stars, Taraana, is in danger. He’s on the run from powerful forces within the world of magic. But if Taraana is no longer safe and free, neither are the Wild Ones. And that…is a fate the Wild Ones refuse to accept. Ever again.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and The Wild Ones?
My name is Nafiza Azad which is Arabic for Precious (Nafiza) and Freedom (Azad). I was born in Fiji many years ago (hah). Growing up on an island, cut off from the rest of the world, without much entertainment (in those days, the internet was a vague whisper and the TV offered documentaries about the mating habits of kangaroos) allowed me to indulge in my imagination. I used to spend hours lost in day dreams, making up stories about fae folk, ghosts, vampires, people with supernatural powers. Fiji is such an enchanting place that these creatures seemed less like objects of fancy but more a simple extension of my reality.
Growing up, I also noticed the disparity in the way women are treated and the privileges men enjoy. My family is more progressive than others but I did not escape the censure of my elders in what they call my bold thinking and irreverent words. Being a woman meant being constantly aware of the space I took, the attention I attracted, and the things I did. When we immigrated to Canada, I felt these things more acutely because now I wasn’t just a woman, I was a woman of color trying to navigate her way through a road full of obstacles.
The Wild Ones is about girls, very much like the girl I once was. Like me, they have experienced trauma and like me, they are angry. The Wild Ones is a rallying cry against a society in which men think they have the right to police women’s bodies (most recently Korean Olympic champion An San receiving criticism and being boycotted for cutting her hair short), being objectified (most recently Canadian hockey player sharing illicit pictures of his girlfriend without her consent). There are way too many stories about girls and women getting abused or discriminated against. Too many cases where a woman’s cry for justice is dismissed as hysteria or overreaction. The Wild Ones reiterates the fact that feminism isn’t a dirty word. It also tells a story of hope, healing, and love. Not just romantic love but platonic love.
Do you have a specific process for writing your books?
I’ve discovered that every book requires a different way of writing but some processes remain the same no matter which book I’m writing. First, there is the idea. Once I get the idea, usually a question “What if…” or an image, I will put it on the backburner and let it steep. Once I’ve decided that I want to work on this idea, I will take it out and open a fresh new notebook. I will write down the idea and then questions related to this idea. Questions allow me to think and dig deep into this idea because it coalesces into a story. I will figure out who the main character is and what I want to call her. What the central idea/theme of the book is. Once I have all these down, I will figure out the beginning, the middle, and the end. I will do all the initial research and figure out the world this book is set in. What is the weather like? The landscape? What kind of people populate this world? What about the politics? The economy? As I learn more about this world, I will investigate my MC, and figure out the perspective I want to tell the story in. The stylistic choices, the vocabulary, the different characters and how they are related to each other. I do a lot of work before I actually write the book so when I do start writing, I can move fairly quickly. I do a fusion of outlining and pantsing so I guess you can call me a plantser?
Was there a specific part of the book you had an easier time writing than the others?
Yes! I had a LOAD of fun writing the conversations between the girls. I based them on the conversations I have with my friends and cousins so you will find an echo of the real world in them.
If you had to choose one character in your book to spend a day with, who would it be and what would you do?
I would spend the day with Paheli which surprises no one and honestly the thing we’d do all day is eat mangoes, drink mango juice, and eat desserts made from mangoes. We’d probably also sing old Bollywood songs horribly out of tune and dress up in super bright clothes.
Is there a recurring theme that can be found in The Wild Ones?
The Wild Ones makes no secret of the fact that it is primarily about feminist and feminists. It brings to light many of the issues suffered by women. All the girls in the book are BIPOC and they’re all in different stages of healing from the abuse they suffered before they were rescued.
Is there anything you’re currently working on, and if so, can you give us any hints or details?
I’m working on a book about the fae which, if I’m not horribly wrong and nothing goes wrong, is due out next year. The book is about Croi who has lived almost seventeen years of her life thinking that she was a brownie until the Glamour spell cast on her starts breaking and she realizes that everything she has known about herself and her life has been a lie. The book is about her journey towards her truth.
Lastly, what do you hope readers will learn/take away from The Wild Ones after reading?
I hope that even if you end up not liking the The Wild Ones, you finish the book thinking that you deserve good things. That your story has meaning and you are worthy. I hope you end up realizing that no matter what defeats the world offers you, you deserve to be alive, deserve to smile, deserve to be happy.
Nafiza Azad is a self-identified island girl. She has hurricanes in her blood and dreams of a time she can exist solely on mangoes and pineapple. Born in Lautoka, Fiji, she currently resides in BC, Canada where she reads too many books, watches too many Kdramas and writes stories about girls taking over the world. Her debut YA fantasy, THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME, was released by Scholastic in 2019.