I am so excited to be on the blog tour for Beasts Made of Night! When I went to BEA in June, this book was one of the books that I was willing to stand in a long line for. As soon as I heard that it was a dark Nigerian fantasy, it immediately went on my “need it right now!” list.
I’m so happy to have Tochi on the blog today answering a few questions about his book and talking a bit about what influenced him to write Beasts Made of Night. Also, don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Beasts Made of Night!
Title: Beasts Made of Night
Author: Tochi Onyebuchi
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Publishing Information: October 31st 2017 by Razorbill
Debut author Tochi Onyebuchi delivers an unforgettable fantasy adventure that powerfully explores the true meaning of justice and guilt. Packed with dark magic and thrilling action, Beasts Made of Night is a gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy perfect for fans of Paolo Bacigalupi and Nnedi Okorafor. In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts—lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.
Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.
When Taj is called to eat a sin of a member of the royal family, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves—and his own life.
Q&A with Tochi Onyebuchi
1. What inspired you to write this book?
Up until Beasts Made of Night, I’d written almost exclusively for adults. And that’s how I’d learned to write, even as I cut my teeth on fantasy and science fiction. So this book presented a challenge and a way for me to grow. I wanted to go back to some of what I’d felt as a kid, the swirl of emotions that comes with figuring out where you fit in the world. It can be a wildly adventurous time, but a terrifying one too, and this felt like the first time I’d truly engaged that. I also wanted to write about Nigeria, something I’d never done before. I wanted to capture the chaos and magic of the place that had birthed my mother. In many ways, Beasts Made of Night is a tribute to her.
2. Some elements in your book, such as religion, draw from our reality. How did you decide which aspects of the world in the book to keep as fantasy and which would reflect our own world?
I really wanted to write a world that was built out of a non-Western tradition. I wanted to write about Nigeria, but I also wanted to write about places I’d studied in school but never read about in fantasy. That included certain religious traditions, certain scientific and academic breakthroughs, certain cultural features that were drawn out of the fabric of the world I lived in but that I hadn’t found in the stories I was reading. My friends who are Arab, African, South Asian, the people in my life who were truly important to me, I wanted to write them into a story, and this was my attempt at doing that.
3. What Nigerian tales did you draw upon while writing this book? Which one was your favorite?
The proverbs sprinkled throughout are actual Igbo proverbs my mother told me as a child. The lessons took the form of animals or carvings and were almost like mini-parables. They were ways of building an entire story out of a single sentence. One in particular has stayed with me: “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.” There is so much in that single sentence, and those sentences helped guide me through the writing of this book.
4. Reading about sin-eating was so fascinating. What made you want to write about a magic system that centers around sin-eating?
So much of how we engage with religion and religious concepts is physical. And when I was a child, I remember Mom reading to us the story of the demon Legion in the Bible, whom Christ confronts and expels from the body of the man he has possessed. I found the way that a whole body was colonized like that fascinating. And even when we say things like “sick with guilt,” there’s this idea that sin or harmful acts or thoughts can actually impact you physically, and the magic system in this book is a way of dramatizing and organizing that.
5. It seems that you have a background in international affairs and have done quite a bit of traveling. Did you draw on any of your travel experiences while writing the book?
Yes! Traveling to different places and learning of different peoples has been an essential part of my life ever since that first study abroad trip in high school. I’d been studying French at the time and, through my school, was able to spend two months in France as part of my curriculum. It was probably one of the Top 5 most important experiences of my life. It set me on an incredible course that has seen me studying Arabic in Morocco and doing research in the Balkans and even doing human rights work in Ramallah. And each place has provided an opportunity to stand in a different pair of shoes and to see the world through an entirely different lens. Each of these experiences has impacted me in indelible ways, and the things I’ve learned, both intellectually and spiritually, will remain with me forever. I will never forget how mindblown I was when I first learned the origin of algebra.
6. If you had to pick a dream cast, who would you choose?
Oh my gosh! Maybe my favorite question but EASILY the most difficult because it depends on the day, the mood, and so much else. And also because there are so many gorgeous, incredibly talented, amazing black actors out there that it would be an absolute dream to work with. Okay. Here goes, in no particular order:
- Princess Karima: Imani Hakim
- Izu: Mahershala Ali
- Aliya: Amandla Stenberg
- Bo: Bryshere Gray
- Marya: Zendaya
- Haris: Brandon Mychal Smith
- Taj: Trevor Jackson
- Omar: Adrian Kali Turner
- Auntie Sania: Tracee Ellis Ross
- Auntie Nawal: Viola Davis
- Arzu: Keke Palmer
- King Kolade: Jaden Smith
Thank you so much Tochi for your amazing responses! That cast looks so amazing — would love to see them all in a film together!
Thanks to the wonderful folks over at Penguin Teen, you can enter for a chance to be one (1) of three (3) winners to receive a hardcover copy of Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi. (ARV: $17.99 each).
Tochi Onyebuchi is a Nigerian American writer and a practicing attorney based in New York City. He holds a MFA in screenwriting from Tisch, a Masters degree in global economic law from L’institut d’études politiques, and a JD from Columbia Law School. His writing has appeared in Asimov’s and Ideomancer, among other places. Beasts Made of Night is his debut series. You can follow him @tochitruestory.
Make sure to check out the rest of the tour stops!