Author Sabaa Tahir makes her YA debut with the highly anticipated An Ember in the Ashes on April 28. The title has already generated a lot of buzz; case in point: Paramount has acquired the film rights in a seven-figure deal, and the foreign rights have been sold in 24 countries. EW can exclusively debut the book’s trailer.
Below, read the official description, and then check out our interview with Tahir.
“Laia is a Scholor 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.”
EW: What do you think of the trailer?
SABAA TAHIR: I’m so excited! I love it. I think that it’s such a perfect representation of the four main characters in the book, what their motivations are, and one of the main themes in the book which is, How far would you go to get what you want?
What was your inspiration for An Ember in the Ashes?
I was inspired a lot by my childhood, actually. That was sort of the first inspiration for me. I grew up in the Mojave Desert, and I always felt like an outcast because I did not fit in because of the color of my skin and where my family was from. As a result, I felt really voiceless and powerless as a kid. I turned to books to find comfort—particularly fantasy books because they took me to a different world altogether. As I grew up, I learned that to have a voice and to have power, writing was sort of the best way to get that voice and to get power. I always knew that if I did write, I wanted to write something in which the characters felt as voiceless and powerless as I did when I was a kid. But unlike me, they would actually fight back and learn how to speak and to make their place in the world. So that’s really where it started.
How did your work as a foreign news desk editor at The Washington Post influence the book?
My work at the Post helped me center the book. I read these stories about child soldiers and midnight raids and extrajudicial jailings, and that inspired a lot of the setting and the scenes in the book.
An Ember in the Ashes will likely have some crossover appeal. Did you write it thinking it would be a YA novel?
I just wrote the story that came to me. I wasn’t really thinking about exactly who the audience was. I sort of stumbled upon the idea that it would be YA after I started writing it. I read so much adult fantasy as a young person that I think it naturally ended up being something that could cross over.
Is this a standalone novel?
Right now it is a standalone. Penguin only bought one book. I would love to write more books in the series, and I have my whole characters and their lives and everything that happens to them, it’s all planned out in my head. But they did just buy one book. For now it’s a standalone, but after Ember comes out, I’m really, really hoping readers will want more. It’s really up to readers.