Headline: Interview with Saara El-Arifi, a headshot of the author and her book "Faebound."

Professional Book Nerds Podcast, Author Insights

Worldbuilding and romantasy writing with author Saara El-Arifi

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Jan 29, 2024

If you’ve jumped on the romantasy bandwagon in recent years, you’re in good company. Readers flock to the internet to rave about the category-crossing genre that reigns supreme on BookTok—gushing about everything from the epic worldbuilding to spicy, slow-burn love stories.

And that’s exactly what you can expect from Sunday Times bestselling fantasy author Saara El-Arifi in Faebound, the first book in her enchanting new trilogy, out on Jan. 23. Tapping into her own experiences with family and culture, El-Arifi is a master worldbuilder as she constructs an intoxicating universe centered around two elven sisters who become imprisoned by the fae, where danger and love lie in wait. Love twists? So does El-Arifi, and she’s built a few into this story—some more obvious than others.

Listen as Emma from the Professional Book Nerds chats with Saara about worldbuilding, writing in the bathtub, the book’s original title, the plan for this new trilogy, fated mates, enemies to lovers and so much more.


More about Faebound

🎧 Audiobook version also available, narrated by the award-winning Bahni Turpin.

FaeboundYeeran was born on the battlefield, has lived on the battlefield, and one day, she knows, she’ll die on the battlefield.

As a warrior in the elven army, Yeeran has known nothing but violence her whole life. Her sister, Lettle, is trying to make a living as a diviner, seeking prophecies of a better future.

When a fatal mistake leads to Yeeran’s exile from the Elven Lands, both sisters are forced into the terrifying wilderness beyond their borders. There they encounter the impossible: the fae court. The fae haven’t been seen for a millennium. But now Yeeran and Lettle are thrust into their seductive world, torn among their loyalties to each other, their elven homeland and their hearts.


More books from Saara El-Arifi

Dive into El-Arifi’s epic fantasies including The Ending Fire series, a trilogy inspired by the myths of Africa and Arabia. The riveting conclusion comes this August!

The Final StrifeThe Final Strife, Book 1

Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.

Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment, by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the empire. But when Sylah and Anoor meet, a fire burns between them that could consume the kingdom—and their hearts.

Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution. And when she joins forces with Sylah and Anoor, together these grains of sand will become a storm. As the empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift and cities to burn.


The Battle DrumThe Battle Drum, Book 2

Anoor is the first blue-blooded ruler of the Wardens’ Empire. But when she is accused of a murder she didn’t commit, her reign is thrown into turmoil. She must solve the mystery and clear her name without the support of her beloved, Sylah.

Sylah braves new lands to find a solution for the hurricane that threatens to destroy her home. Should she sacrifice her old life in order to raise up her sword once more?

Hassa’s web of secrets grows ever thicker as she finds herself on the trail of crimes in the city. Now she must guard both her heart and her land. The three women find their answers, but not the answers they wanted. The drumbeat of change thrums throughout the world. And it sings a song of war.


The Ending FireThe Ending Fire, Book 3 (pub date: Aug. 13, 2024)

The Wardens’ Empire is falling. A vigilante known only as the Truthsayer is raising an army against the wardens. Sylah and Hassa must navigate the politics of this new world, all the while searching for Anoor.

Across the sea, the Blood Forged prepare for war, requesting aid from other governments. Jond’s role as major general sees him training soldiers for combat, but matters of the heart will prove to be the hardest battlefield.

The Zalaam celebrate the arrival of the Child of Fire, heralding the start of the final battle. Anoor’s doubts are eclipsed by the powers of her new god. Soon the Zalaam will set off on their last voyage—and few expect to return.


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RELATED READ: A conversation with Rebecca Yarros, bestselling romantasy author of Fourth Wing & Iron Flame

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About the Author

Annie Suhy has been working in the book industry since 2006. When she’s not working, practicing yoga or petting cats, she’s doing paint-by-numbers or buying more plants. An avid poetry fan, her favorite collection is "The Splinter Factory" by Jeffrey McDaniel.

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