Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Renée Ahdieh: Both The Beautiful and The Damned were inspired a great deal by Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I read them when I was twelve and fell in love with how transportive and immersive they were. The city of New Orleans was also a huge source of inspiration. I love how vibrant and seething it is, not to mention its rich and fraught history.
What character in this novel do you most relate to and why?
Celine is the character most like me out of any I’ve ever written. She’s mixed race and has struggled with it for most her life, just as I struggled with it well into my teenage years. It’s difficult being too much of one thing and not enough of the other. She’s also attracted to dark and dangerous things, not to mention being a girl who loves fashion!
Why do you feel novels with your type of characters are so popular and have such a voice right now? Which characters stand out to you the most from your read?
I think novels with interesting, multi-dimensional characters have always been popular. I strive to write about the many layers in each of my characters’ lives. When I began writing my first book years ago, I knew I wanted to have a cast of characters from all over the world. I think it’s reflective of our society, and people like me have always yearned to see more inclusivity in stories. It’s great that we are moving more and more in that direction.
Please describe the content of your latest read and what can readers expect from it.
The Damned takes off right where The Beautiful ends, and it follows another character’s journey. I don’t necessarily want to say who, for fear of spoilers, but it’s a book I had such fun writing. It was also thrilling to take my characters into an entirely different world and expand on the backdrop I created in The Beautiful.
What’s next for you in the books world?
I’m working on the next book and busy stirring up new ideas in my cauldron 😉
Who is your current favorite writer? Why?
Oh, wow. This is an impossible question. I love books in so many different genres by so many different writers. I’m a big fan anything by Sarah MacLean, and I’m a huge fan of Marie Lu, Sabaa Tahir, Marie Rutkoski, and Jason Reynolds. It’s such a gift to work among so many talented individuals!
Any writing advice for aspiring writers?
Read! Read outside your genre, read for fun, pick up something you’ve never read about before. It informs your worldview and is essential to your writing.