Greetings, fellow book gobblers! It’s my pleasure and honor to welcome back author Mina Khan to BLI today. We get to have a chat about her latest paranormal romance, A Tale of Two Djinns, as well as discuss some of her favorite bookish themes and influences. Mina also talks a bit about the very special connection that her latest book has with UNICEF and its efforts to promote literacy in developing regions. Please give her a warm welcome!
Alisha: Welcome, Mina! So glad to have you back at Book Lovers Inc!
Mina: Thanks so much for inviting me again! I always enjoy visiting with fellow book lovers.
Alisha: Can you describe A Tale of Two Djinns for us–Twitter style (140 characters or less)?
Mina: A Tale of Two Djinns is a sexy paranormal Romeo & Juliet story with genies, feminists, kickass action & adult fun.
Alisha: What is it about the djinn that interests you?
Mina: I grew up on djinn stories and I love them. What’s not to love? Djinns are dark & dangerous supernatural beings, they are intense and powerful, and when they fall in love, they fall hard.
Alisha: The story in A Tale of Two Djinns touches quite a bit on women’s rights, and highlights women’s role in male-dominated society. What inspired you to have the issue feature into the plot?
Mina: Stories are personal and come from the writer’s heart. Being a woman and growing up in a third-world country, marginalization of women was a fact I encountered daily. Not just the overt in-your-face marginalization, but also the more dangerous insidious marginalization that comes cloaked in “for her own good.” Women’s issues have always been important to me and they spilled into A Tale of Two Djinns.
Alisha: That makes perfect sense, then, that you’ve decided to have this book release help positively impact women and girls in various regions of the world. How did UNICEF in particular come into play with this book release?
Mina: My father suddenly died while I was in the middle of the second draft of A Tale of Two Djinns. And my mother moved in with me. Both events made me stop in my tracks and reflect on my life, my writing, and my parents. I wanted to honor and thank my parents for the love and education they gifted me, and I wanted to use my writing to make a difference. So, I decided to donate 50% of the proceeds of A Tale of Two Djinns to UNICEF.
Alisha: The book is set in a djinn world not located on earth. We get a glimpse at some of the types of locales and terrains. From where do you draw inspiration for the djinn-world setting?
Mina: Actually, the djinn world is a parallel dimension to the human world, separate for the most part, but sometimes intersecting. My inspiration comes from part childhood stories, part imagination, part my travels and part Google Earth.
Mina: I was a reader before I became a writer, and I write stories I enjoy reading. I like stories that are complex and layered. A good story shouldn’t just entertain, but affect the reader at different levels. I like strong, intelligent heroines and heroes who are worthy of them & appreciate them. I love heroic themes and rooting for the underdog, also universal themes.
Alisha: Do you have plans to write more tales in your djinn universe?
Mina: Yes, I have djinns on my brain. In fact, I have a few story ideas already sketched out on my computer.
Alisha: Oooh, very cool to hear! What are some other themes you’d like to explore, perhaps even outside of your normal writing zone?
Mina: I’d like to explore themes of identity and labels, the human family, maybe in a literary or nonfiction format.
Alisha: You’re really big on cooking, and even have a blog featuring your culinary adventures. Any chance you might someday put a food-related book out into the world? ^__^
Mina: My day job is working as a food columnist, and my foodie readers have been urging me to put together a book of recipes and essays. I’m definitely keeping that in mind…and I’m toying with the idea of putting food and djinns together in a future story. So yes, there’s a big chance that you’ll see a food-related book from me one of these days.
Alisha: Looking forward to it! Until then, we’ve got to know: what’s your favorite dish to prepare? And how about the most challenging to prepare?
Mina: Khichuri, which is a spiced lentil and rice stew often with bits of veggies. It’s a comfort food from my childhood & actually makes an appearance in A Tale of Two Djinns.
Challenging: Sushi, especially in terms of getting the right quality of ingredients…given that I live in wilds of West Texas. So when I’m traveling I love going for sushi. Plus, watching a Sushi Chef is a Zen experience.
Alisha: Mmmm. Tasty foods all around. It’s hard to go wrong with either of those two dishes. ^_^ Thank you again for your visit, Mina. It’s been wonderful chatting!
Mina Khan is a Texas-based writer and food enthusiast. She daydreams of hunky paranormal heroes, magic, mayhem and mischief and writes them down as stories. Between stories, she teaches culinary classes and writes for her local newspaper. Other than that, she’s raising a family of two children, two cats, two dogs and a husband.
She grew up in Bangladesh on stories of djinns, ghosts and monsters. These childhood fancies now color her fiction. Her debut novella, THE DJINN’S DILEMMA was published November 2011. Her second novella, A TALE OF TWO DJINNS, was released in early March 2012.
As Mina mentioned in the interview, half the proceeds from A Tale of Two Djinns will go to UNICEF, in support of women’s literacy centers in Asia. UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund), operates in over 150 countries to protect children and their rights. It works on myriad projects to improve not just the lives of children, but also the communities around them. UNICEF relies on funding from governments and private donors, which is why it always makes a difference to contribute to these causes in any small way. Isn’t it kind of cool to think that your own love of reading can have an impact on efforts to help others learn to read? I think it is. ^_^ Click here for more information about UNICEF-supported literacy centers for women and girls.
Mina has very generously offered a neat swag pack for one lucky commenter! The prize pack includes: a signed post card with the book’s cover art, a genie key chain & a delicious recipe for Khichuri…and of course, a copy of the e-book A Tale of Two Djinns!
All you have to do is leave a meaningful comment on the interview, or leave a question for Mina!
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)
Please be sure to include a valid email address in the comment form (need not be in the actual body of the comment).
This giveaway is open to all!
Giveaway ends on Saturday, 7 April 2012; we will announce the winner on Sunday.