Interview

AAPIHM Spotlight: Sarena and Sasha Nanua

We’re so excited to have Sarena Nanua and Sasha Nanua for this week’s Author Spotlight to celebrate Asian (American) Pacific Islander Heritage Month! I put *American* because Sarena and Sasha are Canadian and this month is for celebrating all API diaspora writers! SISTERS OF THE SNAKE is out on June 15th and you can find more information and preorder here! We’re also offering a preorder giveaway so make sure you scroll down to the bottom to enter!

Give us a quick pitch of Sisters of the Snake!

Sisters of the Snake is a YA fantasy story following twin sisters separated at birth—one now a princess, the other a street thief—who meet and swap places on Diwali night!

What were some stories or tropes that influenced you in developing the story? 

If you couldn’t already tell, Sisters of the Snake is a retelling of The Prince and the Pauper (though we like to joke it’s more of a retelling of Barbie’s Princess and the Pauper). We were definitely inspired by fun “identical girls swapping places” movies like The Parent Trap and Mary-Kate and Ashley’s It Takes Two. Also, this is a pretty popular trope in Bollywood, as seen in the ’70s movie Seeta Aur Geeta.

I love reading books that have immersive non-western settings! What were some of your favorite parts of creating this world? Were there any elements from your own upbringing that you especially loved incorporating? 

The setting was one of our favourite parts to play around with. Being able to use our Indian background as a playground of sorts was especially exciting! Some of our favourite parts when creating this world was definitely the food. We are MAJOR foodies, so being able to incorporate things like food and dress and customs felt so natural, and was something we’d rarely seen in YA.

One of my favorite things about your stunning cover is the snake braid! Can you talk a little bit about the significance of snakes in the story as well as how the cover came together? 

The snake braid is INCREDIBLE! The royals’ snake magic is the dominant magic in the story. We wanted to show the dichotomy of how snakes (and thus, royalty) have been seen as “evil” or “bad” in this world by the commoners, but twist that idea on its head by having our main characters and heroines have this magic themselves.

The cover process was absolutely amazing. Our editor and the whole design team were so receptive to our thoughts and ideas, and we told them how much we wanted Ria and Rani to be on the cover, as well as some snakes! And look what happened—the artist literally connected Ria and Rani with a *snake braid*! We couldn’t have asked for anything more! We think it’s the best possible cover for this bright, vibrant story.

I’m always so curious to hear about other authors’ writing processes so I’d love to hear a bit about how you work together! Do you outline extensively, do each of you have a favorite part of the process, what is your typical writing routine etc.

We always outline our books before writing, and often let ideas percolate for months before ever putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). The outline is not always super extensive, and sometimes it is. Every project seems to be different.

We don’t exactly have a set “routine” per se, but when we’re on deadline, we tend to work every day on the project, and aim to finish around a week before the deadline hits. Then we take a few days off and use the final few days before the deadline to polish up and address any comments we left for ourselves in the manuscript.

Some people think that since our upcoming book is dual POV, we each took on a different perspective, but we actually work on both! Depending on the draft, we each focus on one character more than the other, then read over each other’s work to make sure everything is consistent.

I love that you’re sisters writing about sisters! Are there any aspects of your own personalities or dynamics that you wove into Ria and Rani?

Funnily enough, Ria and Rani are very different from us, but that was what made them so fun to write about! If anything, it’s our strong sister bond that we wanted to illustrate between Ria and Rani, and their growth as individuals and sisters. But who knows—maybe one of us is secretly a princess . . . 🙂

Thank you both so much for joining us! If you’d like to be entered to win a preorder of SISTERS OF THE SNAKE, share this tweet!

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