So on Wednesday I was finally able to meet Shannon Chakraborty! To say that I was excited would be an understatement! I was literally buzzing all day and poor Anisha and Gillian had to deal with me screaming at them in caps lock after the event. Get yourself bookstabesties like them who tolerate this lol
Anyways, the event was AMAZING! Honestly it’s my favourite event I’ve been to! Even my husband really enjoyed himself which is an achievement as he normally gets bored as he’s not a fiction fan but Shannon had him hooked as she spoke about Muslim rep and of course his favourite topic, jinns!
The event started by Shannon reading a non-spoilery excerpt from Empire of Gold which is from the point of view from a certain Afshin. It gave everyone chills. It was a flashback to how everything started for him!
She spoke about my faves Alizayd and Nahri and about Ghassan and complicated family relationships. She spoke about how her background in Islamic history is what inspired the world.
She spoke about how it was important to her to write about Alizayd and that he is a young Muslim boy who is deeply devout and passionate about social justice for everyone regardless of social status. Social justice is a big part of Alizayd and Shannon being a convert to Islam, the social justice is what drew her to the religion. I also loved learning that she was basically Alizayd in her teen years!
I really loved the discussion around the Qahtani siblings. Their relationship is so complicated because of their political positions so it makes their sibling relationship so complex. Muntadhir is the Amir and Ali is the second son who is a trained soldier and this makes him a threat to Muntadhir. Ali and Muntadhir also have very different views on how to run Daevabad which makes them rivals.
But they both love each other and try to protect each other too. Zaynab is the one who ends up as the peacemaker between them. She spoke about how their relationship is inspired by her wanting to explore how Princes in history, who were brothers and loved each other, ended up rebelling against each other. That the sisters would often play peacemaker. It just creates even more depth to this wonderful story!
One of the most interesting characters in this story is Ghassan. He is such a complex and layered character that you hate and love him and want to scream at him and emphasise with him all at the same time. She spoke about how he is corrupt leader mirroring those real leaders we have seen. They believe that what they’re doing is for the good of their people. They will oppress and subjugate other people to “protect” their own, just like Ghassan does. Then over the years he slowly became more and more power hungry and it becomes about keeping that power. And he lets the fear control his actions. He is the same way with his children, he clearly loves them all but will also use them as political pawns.
The last character she spoke about is Nahri. She told us how initially Nahri was a straight cut character and only became a con artist much later. She wanted to explore how, an orphan with abilities that would frighten those around her, that grew up in a time where kinship and family was an important part of the culture would be. Nahri is an extremely distrustful person because of how she grew up and just because she was taken to Daevabad she wouldn’t be able to change that part of her so easily. That’s why even in The Kingdom of Copper she still isn’t comfortable in her role as a leader of a tribe and living there even though she has embraced the healer side of her.
She spoke about how her background in Islamic medieval history has inspired the world and the politics and family dynamics. Listening to her speak made me appreciate even more just how much research she did to build the world. It is so incredibly detailed even in aspects of the characters that I didn’t even initially consider!
Lastly we were able to ask her questions and when I spoke to her I spoke about how I’m part of the discord chat and she was so lovely to talk to! I spoke to her about our many theories and her response was to smile with eyes twinkling and man she killed me! I am hoping that some of our theories are correct!
Anyways I could go on forever about how lovely Shannon is and how much I adore these books! But that’s all from me!
If you were at the event or have met her do let me know!