Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

What it Means to be The Wild Ones, Teen Librarian Lisa Krok interviews author Nafiza Azad

Lisa Krok: Nafiza, thank you for joining Teen Librarian Toolbox for a Q&A about your forthcoming book, The Wild Ones. Your book was born out of traumas that so many women have experienced. I found this quote to be so compelling, “Would giving specific names to our tragedies make you know us better? Get black paint then and mark us victims of rape, sexual, physical, and verbal abuse. Stalked. Sold. Made destitute. Abandoned. Hated. Silenced. Do these words make us more or less to you?”. The naming of the specific traumas is not important. The damage left behind in the women who survived speaks for itself. You state in the book that the wild oneslive in the Between, which is not a world, but a pathway. I interpreted this pathway as their road to healing. Can you tell us about that?

Nafiza Azad: In my experience, when something that immense happens to you, you are changed in irrevocable ways. The spaces you used to occupy are no longer safe for you and the spaces you will occupy in the future are still somewhere to reach after you’re done healing. The Between is a liminal space that shelters you as you heal, space that allows you to regress before progressing, a place to be messy but a space that is always safe.

LK: Having that safe space is so important. These women are fierce and feminist in their sisterhood, bound together by their varied traumas, anger, and rage. What about this sisterhood do you think was most empowering for the women as they find their voices on their healing journey?

NA: The most empowering aspect of this sisterhood, any sisterhood really, is in the knowledge that. no matter what happens. you are not alone. The wild ones don’t always get along but they know that even if they are in horrible fights, they won’t break up. The liberation in not having to be pretty and polite all the time. The freedom in falling and knowing there is someone behind to catch you.

LK: The misogyny in The Wild Ones was pervasive. How do you think this sparked the women to break up the patriarchy?

NA: The wild ones are all survivors of various kinds of abuse. When something like that happens to you, in addition to the pain and the sorrow, the emotion you struggle most with is anger. The question that keeps you up at night is what was it about you that said you deserve to be treated the way you were. And the anger that comes in the knowing that the person or people who caused you to feel the way you do will most probably walk free with nary a pat on their hand. The emotion the wild ones celebrate most fiercely is this anger. They answered the question above and found that no, they didn’t deserve to be treated the way they were. No girl or woman or person deserves that treatment. So how dare men and society excuse what happened to them and put labels on them, recreating them as statistics?

LK: Indeed, and I imagine this is validation for many readers. I sincerely hope that this book brings catharsis to those who need it, and a sense of that unconditional sisterhood to all.

Switching gears a bit now, food from many cultures is woven into the storyline in the different places the women travel. How do you feel these vivid descriptions added to the story (besides making me hungry, of course)?

NA: Food is a language you do not need to learn to understand. It crosses borders and transcends cultures and races. A full table is an invitation in real life and in The Wild Ones. I use it as a way to invite the reader in, to join the wild ones at the table, and into the story.

LK: Thank you, Nafiza, for this exquisite story and this Q & A!

The Wild Ones releases August 3, 2021 from Margaret K. McElderry books. Please see order links below.

Amazon ; Indiebound

Resources for assistance:

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network  (RAINN)  1.800.656.HOPE(4673)

Domestic Violence Hotline   1.800.799.SAFE (7233)

Suicide Prevention Lifeline   1.800.273.TALK (8255)

National Alliance on Mental Illness    1.800.950.NAMI 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 

Photograph (c) Jasdeep Deol

Nafiza Azad is a self-identified island girl. She has hurricanes in her blood and dreams of a time she can exist solely on mangoes and pineapple. Born in Lautoka, Fiji, she currently resides in British Columbia, Canada where she reads too many books, watches too many K-dramas, and writes stories about girls taking over the world. Her debut YA fantasy was the Morris Award–nominated The Candle and the FlameThe Wild Ones is her second novel.

Lisa Krok, MLIS, MEd, is the Adult and Teen Services Manager at Morley Library and a former teacher in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of Novels in Verse for Teens: A Guidebook with Activities for Teachers and Librarians (ABC-CLIO). In addition to the TLT, blog, she reviews YA fiction for School Library Journal. Her passion is reaching marginalized teens and reluctant readers through young adult literature. Lisa served on the Best Fiction for Young Adults and Quick Picks for Reluctant Reader’s teams. She can be found being bookish and political on Twitter @readonthebeach.               

About THE WILD ONES

From William C. Morris Finalist Nafiza Azad comes a thrilling, feminist fantasy about a group of teenage girls endowed with special powers who must band together to save the life of the boy whose magic saved them all.

Meet the Wild Ones: girls who have been hurt, abandoned, and betrayed all their lives. It all began with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother and sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escapes, she runs headlong into a boy with stars in his eyes. This boy, as battered as she is, tosses Paheli a box of stars before disappearing.

With the stars, Paheli gains access to the Between, a place of pure magic and mystery. Now, Paheli collects girls like herself and these Wild Ones use their magic to travel the world, helping the hopeless and saving others from the fates they suffered.

Then Paheli and the Wild Ones learn that the boy who gave them the stars, Taraana, is in danger. He’s on the run from powerful forces within the world of magic. But if Taraana is no longer safe and free, neither are the Wild Ones. And that…is a fate the Wild Ones refuse to accept. Ever again. (Publisher’s Description)