- How did you come up with the idea for "Night of a Thousand Stars?"The book is loosely connected to my previous novel, CITY OF JASMINE. I set up a story arc in that book that left a few threads untied, so this was my opportunity to weave them in. Characters that had only been alluded do in the first book took center stage in this one, and there is even a cameo by one of JASMINE’s main characters to link them more tightly together.
- What was your research process like for this book? What is the most interesting or strange thing you found out during your research?The research was pretty straightforward since I had just set a book in Damascus. I had read mountains of information about the area during and after WWI, Lawrence of Arabia, Lady Hester Stanhope, Gertrude Bell, Jane Digby, etc. so I was able to use all of that in this book as well—always a luxury! I plowed through my notes again to refresh my memory and did some more intense digging about the Syrian countryside to get the details right. The most fun was probably the time I spent immersed in Circassian native dress. If I could, I’d wear it every day—it’s unspeakably gorgeous. I particularly loved the passage I found describing how a Circassian bridegroom uses the tip of his knife to cut his bride free from her corset on their wedding night!
- Who is your favorite character in this book and why?I love Sebastian unreservedly, and writing Poppy was just complete joy. She’s bright and intrepid, two of my favorite qualities in a character, and I think that’s apparent from the very first page when she literally runs away from her chance at a brilliant society match. But my favorite character in this book is probably Masterman. I love her hidden depths! She was great fun to write, and I left a lot of her secrets unrevealed, keeping her a little mysterious. She’s brilliant and acerbic and unexpected.
- You've written many books now. Have you found your process has changed at all? Has writing gotten easier or harder?My process has essentially turned on its head. I used to write very long first drafts that included every detail and then whittle them down. I’ve since learned to write a much shorter first draft and embellish it as I revise. It saves an almost incalculable amount of time to insert brackets with a note about what I want to include and keep forging ahead. Then I know exactly which bits of information to go in search of, where I need to expand a conversation, or do a better job of setting a scene.
- If you could choose any three fictional characters or historical figures to bring with you to a deserted island, who would you bring and why?
I would choose doomed queens—Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Marie Antoinette. They didn’t have a chance to live out their lives, so they probably deserve a little fun.
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