• Featured Novel: 'Aoife and Demon : Cursed Be the Syhlain' by Shamila Ghyas & Humeira Kazmi

    Aoife and Demon: Cursed be the Syhlain is an Epic Fantasy novel by Shamila Ghyas and Humeira Kazmi, and it's the first in the trilogy set in the magical parallel world called "Realm" where the story follows a kick-ass heroine named Aoife. It's impressive that the authors inspire each other to complete the creative project while being continents apart. Many of their readers say that their novels are fast-paced

    Aoife Edwards is a college freshman, oppressed by her power-hungry stepmom who now controls her father's fortune and sees her as a marketable commodity. A strange, blue-skinned man drops into her life and opens a door into both her hidden past, an alternate universe full of dangers, new powers and magic, and a truly bad-to-the-bone Demon King.

    Interview with Shamila Ghyas & Humeira Kazmi

    How did you two decide to start with this project? And were there any challenges in your collaboration such as creative differences?

    Shamila: Well, we initially started writing as a game of sorts in a group of friends on Facebook. One would write one line, and then another. No one was really interested to be honest but us. Somehow the story started to take form and we just kept going till we had a full book in our hands. And now it’s trilogy.

    Humeira: On creative differences – I don’t think I’ll call it differences. If you’re creative, you already are different. You have a different vision. So for us, it was all about picking the better vision for the book, its characters, their stories and scenes and everything. The only downside to our team is the different time zones we live in. We’re continents apart! When I’m getting ready for bed, she’s greeting the sun and vice versa. It’s safe to say, we’ve sacrificed a lot of sleep to make it work.

    The names in your novel are unique. How did you come up with them?

    Shamila: Here is the fun part, nearly every name you come across in the book has a little background to it. Aoife (pronounced Ee-faah) herself is named after an actual Irish warrior princess. Demon's real name is named after a man who was known to define beauty. Salaar actually means Leader or Commander in Urdu, and so on and so forth.

    Humeira: We wanted to give the reader a taste of each character they come across in the book. The major ones have enough page-space to tell who they are but the minor ones sometimes don’t even get a chance to speak. We paid special attention to the names for that reason as well. Not all names have meanings though. Like Ogaz, Baruk, Cy, Rumir or Miroi. They’re just made up. Azure of course means Blue so that’s a perfect fit. Nivis was derived from two Latin words nix (means snow) and veneficus (means wizard). Don’t ask how it morphed to Nivis but it did. Then, we have names that are resonant of our native culture or region – Kabir (means Great), Shehrzad, Saem, Arvin and many others. We’ve mixed in many western names as well like Alistair, Nancy, Tosh, Ina, Jay, Kara (and more in Book 2) to keep it interesting for all readers.

    Name some authors who have influenced your writing style.

    Shamila: As as kid, I read Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton and have been hooked since then on fantasy. Nothing is too strange or bizarre as long as you write it well. So definitely these two names, I have to mention.

    Humeira: Enid Blyton for sure. Disney movies (I wont deny, especially Fantasia) and Tolkien of course. Thats my fantasy treasure trove. Currently, I like Sophie Kinsella.

    What do you think makes a female character like Aoife "strong"?

    Shamila: She has her vulnerable moments (and moments of insanity) like any normal human being, but she overcomes everything that is thrown her way and quickly. She is a quick learner and has the ability to carry everyone forward. She also comes equipped with some pretty cool super powers too.

    What are "Buzurgs, Phromaz, Ducimas, Syhlains"?

    Shamila: I would not exactly call them races as they are predominantly human with a few extra special features and skills. Ok, maybe some might be colored blue as well

    Humeira: Phromaz and Buzurgs are the only ones not human, predominantly or otherwise. The name Phromaz is made up – a bit inspired by the Latin word forma meaning form. The Buzurgs on the other hand are a race we will define in Book 2. For now, I’ll only say the word Buzurg means Elder in Urdu.

    What sets your alternate world apart from Earth other than the existence of the races?

    Shamila: Not too different however one thing that stands out is the way people age there. It’s quite different than on earth. The flow of the weather there is something else that people might find a little intriguing as well.

    Humeira: The history of Realm is detailed in our prequel, Origin of the Realm. The free-read links and buy links to it are on our website. Apart from creating new races, we took the liberty of letting Realm keep many of its earth-like qualities since the people who inhabited it, came from Earth (apart from Buzurgs).

    How did you create this "Akina" language?

    Shamila: We created it as we went along and then went back, changed it and went on and then went back again and made changes again. Yes, it took time. Native Urdu and Persian speakers might notice many similarities to their language. We thought it would be a little different. Initially, we wanted to go with Latin but clearly to write in Latin, one must speak it too and google can only do so much… so that idea was dropped.

    Humeira: The word Akina itself comes from the Japanese language meaning spring flower. That reminds me of a new blossom, new life – new language. I know! Our imagination is all over the place but that’s really how we work. We play around with words and grammar and throw in a sentence together and see if it sounds sensible or believable enough to be part of a language. I can write a separate book on the number of hours we spent on Google Translate and otherwise for each word that we’ve used to construct our sentences in Akina.How did you create this "Akina" language?

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