Debut Author

Introducing Debut Author Karuna Riazi

Hello, Emberlings!
March is here (and gone, almost) and I’m so excited to introduce this month’s debut author, Karuna Riazi. I first knew Karuna only as @gildedspine on Twitter, and have been thrilled to see this fearless, wonderful lady use her voice with such grace and gravitas. Karuna’s middle grade novel The Gauntlet will be released on March 28, 2017. You can check it out here!




Sabaa: You can transform into any animal at will—which one and why?  

Karuna: I would want to be a dolphin, because you get the brains and the cute and the whole being able to swim in the sea for as long as you want without wrinkling or fear of jellyfish. (I. Hate. Oversized. Jellyfish. With a strong and 100% irrational passion.) What more could you ask for?


S: Hmm, I never thought of that. I will have to reconsider my answer to this question. Ok, what’s the best lie you’ve ever told? 

K: I am a professional.


S: If you could punch one person on the planet with absolutely no repercussions, who would it be? 

K: Hmm. It’s hard to answer this when you are aware of the repercussions!


S: Ooo, nice sidestep there. What’s the one thing you can’t write without? Meaning, you’d go to battle against an army of orcs if they tried to take this thing away from you? 

K: My laptop. Seriously, the orcs will be laid out flat without even putting a knobby finger on it. My precious!


S: Can you give the writers out there one line of writing advice? 

K: Write every day is the most overrated advice out there and you will reach the finish line even if you take it one word a day, so do what feels most comfortable for you.


S: What’s your biggest fear going into your debut year?

K: I think my biggest fear is, always, whether or not I’m cut out for this. I’m terrified that I do not look professional enough, that I will have spinach between my teeth at the wrong time, that I am going to burn a bridge and always feel the ash coating my tongue, that my words are going to flounder and lose their shine.

That, and I’m terrified that people will not like this book after all.


S:  Don’t worry, once you have that moment with the spinach in your teeth it’s out of the way! And your book will be beloved. Next question: you can only listen to one band for the rest of your life. Who is it?

K: I am 95% sure that any band will have the magic worn out of them by middle age, but…maybe…Super Junior. At least by that point of my life, I might have actually learned enough Korean to understand the lyrics!


S: You must choose between possessing Sauron’s One Ring and the Elder Wand (hoping you’ve read LOTR and HP, here.) Which one do you choose and why? 

K: The Elder Wand because it feels like there is still some possibility for good and I’m not keen on being possessed by a possession. I’m that type of person who likes to err on the side of caution.


S: With only your wit and an oft-malfunctioning magic wand, you are forced into a death match with either Shelob, the enormous spider from Lord of the Rings, or Voldemort. Who do you choose? 

K: Voldemort, because there’s nothing better than squaring up on the side of what’s right against fascism and racism, and at least I can look my foe in the eye and not be trembling already at the sight of my least favorite creature in the entire world. (So says the girl who also wrote giant spiders into her book and made them mechanical so it was harder to step on them and just get it over with.)


S: A question in honor of Adam Silvera and Becky Alberalli, YA writers extraordinaire: Golden Oreos or Classic?

K: I adore both these people and don’t want to get on their bad side and this is a really unfair question because I eat most Oreos I get (I say most because I do not want anyone to suddenly send me those ungodly Peep impostors as a gift), but…Classic.


S: YESSSSS, EXCELLENT CHOICE. Describe your debut novel in one sentence: 

K: Courtesy of the actual copy! “A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.”




Thank you, Karuna!

If you like to know more about Karuna, you can find her on Twitter: @karunariazi or            @gildedspine, or at her website: (which will be up soon!)


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