Monday, September 30, 2013

Author Interview: Hafsah Laziaf

Today we have Hafsah Laziaf of Icey Books here to talk about her upcoming October release, UNBREATHABLE! Interested in an action-packed and gorgerously written YA scifi that takes place on another planet? Look no further. 

Tell us about UNBREATHABLE! Toxic atmosphere, secrets as big as the Earth, telescopes and aliens, oh my! :)

The synopsis pretty much says it all! But while UNBREATHABLE is science fiction, at its heart, it's about Lissa. Figuring out her parentage, her purpose on Jutaire, and more than anything, finding strength in herself. There's action, of course, but also love and redemption.

What inspired you to write UNBREATHABLE? Was there a particular scene that you kept coming back to or a character that drew you in?

UNBREATHABLE began with a quest to find the perfect first line for another scifi I was finishing up. And then I thought: in how many first lines are people searching for Earth? The rest sprang from there - I can never outline, so I had no idea what would happen in the story. On a side note, my main character was originally a boy named Finn. He lasted the first twenty pages before I realized it needed to be narrated by a girl.

UNBREATHABLE takes place on Jutaire, a red planet inhabited both by humans and Jute. If you could live anywhere on Jutaire and choose to be human or Jute (or something else!), where and what would you choose?

Oh, I'd rather not live on Jutaire at all, but if I had to, I'd choose to be a maid in White Plains. I wouldn't have to meddle with an evil queen but I'd still live in a pretty cool place. And I think I'd be a Jute, breathing that tasty air and looking drop-dead gorgeous ;)

Tell us about your editing process! Any secret techniques for those of us revising? :)

Hah. I have no secrets. But do what I didn't: BACK UP YOUR WORK. I suffered once.
But for an actual editing tip: read every sentence carefully, and remove any word(s) that isn't needed to either move the plot forward or add to your world/emotion/characters. Keep that in mind as you go, it's easy to tighten up your story.

You run a popular book review blog, design kickass websites, all in addition to writing books. (whoa!) How do you make time for all of these?


Just like I can't follow an outline for writing, I can't follow a schedule. I keep lists, which are a huge relief when something gets crossed off, but I don't find time. I do as much as I can in a day and continue the next. While a post goes up on IceyBooks every day, I can't take full credit for it anymore. My sister (who's a writer too!) has been co-blogging with me for about a year now and I'd be a failure without her.

As for dividing my time between designing and writing and promoting UNBREATHABLE? Somehow, it's all getting done. Don't ask :P

Did you always plan to write science fiction, or are there other genres you enjoy writing in? Can you give us a hint or teaser about what you’re working on next?

I've been writing science fiction ever since I started writing, though this is my first space novel, or space opera. But when I was completing a rewrite for UNBREATHABLE a few months ago, I had a fantasy idea that's on a standstill while I ready UNBREATHABLE for October 29th. Up next? If there's enough interest for a sequel - though UNBREATHABLE does read as a standalone - I'll either work on that, or the fantasy.

Since this is the Secret Life of Writers and all, can you share a secret about your writing with us? :)

I wrote UNBREATHABLE in the dark. On my tiny 3.5" screen smartphone (that I no longer own) every night. Yes, the whole manuscript, which was originally 105,000 words long. There was something to the darkness that made it easier to visualize the world and voice. And when I tried to continue the next day on my computer, I just couldn't.

Thanks so much for the interview, Hafsah! Interested in Hafsah and her writing? Follow her here:

One hundred and fifty years ago, Earth was destroyed, and the remaining humans fled to the dusty red planet of Jutaire, where the only oxygen is manufactured, food is scarce, and death strikes often.

When Lissa's father discovers Earth still exists, she accidentally inhales the toxic air of Jutaire, and in one breath, discovers she isn't quite human.

Her father hangs for his discovery, and Lissa knows the Chancellors will come for her, for she saw the Earth that night too. With nothing to lose, she sets out to expose the truth. It isn't long before she meets Julian, a beautiful boy who can breathe the toxic air like she can - and shows her that the Jute, the original inhabitants of the planet, are more tangled in their lives than she knows.

But the Chancellors are only pawns in a greater game - one where the Jute control everything. Worse, the Jute plan to leave Jutaire for Earth, but to get there, they need her. And they'll stop at nothing until Lissa is in their clutches, even if they kill every human in the process.

The race for Earth has begun.

Alright! And because Hafsah is amazing, she's generously agreed to do a giveaway of an e-ARC (open internationally) and bookmarks (US only)!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 secret replies:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to read UNBREATHABLE, Alex! And for interviewing me <3

  2. pretty dang excited about this one! Love sci-fi, especially if it takes place on another planet. Wondering what Hafsah has planned next...are you planning on self-pubbing all your future works or do you want to be a hybrid author, doing both self and traditional?

    1. I never wanted to self-publish! But I'm loving every minute of it.
      If UNBREATHABLE does well, I think I'll stick to self-publishing the rest of my novels as well.

  3. This looks WONDERFUL! I can't get enough sci fi.

  4. I'm very excited about this book! :D