COVER REVEAL: The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad
“What’s in a name?”
Shakespeare asked that very famously centuries ago in a play you might be familiar with. I always took umbrage at that question. You see, in many cultures, including mine, names have power, meaning, and functions beyond the obvious.
The earliest version of The Candle and the Flame wound itself around Shakespeare’s question and attempted to answer it but ended up spawning more questions instead. Questions like: What if names had the power to shape people? What if there was someone who had power over names?
These questions simmered inside of me as I lived and experienced things in the real world. Things like discrimination due to the hijab I wear on my head. Things like being solid but completely invisible in the eyes of certain people. Things like being told I don’t belong in a place because of the colour I am and the religion I follow.
I needed a place to escape so I created one. The City of Noor is the setting of The Candle of the Flame and in my heart it is as much the protagonist of the novel as is Fatima. In Noor, everyone is accepted. It is home to anyone who wishes to live there. Its gates don’t close and no one is ever turned away because of who they worship, what they look like, or who they love.
The City of Noor lies on the border of a desert and a forest in a country that is divided almost perfectly into forest and desert. The forest side of the country is ruled by a human maharajah and the desert side is ruled by the Ifrit clan of the Djinn.
In the Djinn, I found the answer to my questions about names. I won’t say more on the topic because that will be giving things away.
The protagonist of The Candle and the Flame is Fatima. Her life is one embroidered by losses but her will is made of steel and I wanted the cover to reflect this. I wanted her brown-ness, her colour, to be apparent. I wanted her to look at home in her body and in the space she occupies as both belong to her.
I wanted Fatima to be gazing out at the world, challenging anyone who looks at her to look away. I wasn’t certain what I would get in terms of the cover but when I was sent the comps, I was blown away. And that’s what I got. The details of her clothes and the background are exquisitely rendered and true to the world she lives in. Her strength of self is apparent in her eyes as is her confidence in who she is.
There will be times when the world is too much and you need some breathing room. In moments like those, maybe The Candle and the Flame will be as much an escape for you as it was for me. In the City of Noor, you may find the same acceptance I did. Perhaps in Fatima’s story, you will find the beginnings of your own ever after.
Nafiza Azad was born in Fiji and spent the first seventeen years of her life as a self-styled Pacific Islander. Now she identifies as an Indo-Fijian Muslim Canadian, which means she is often navigating multiple identities. Nafiza has a love for languages and currently speaks four. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Children’s Literature from the University of British Columbia and co-runs The Book Wars (thebookwars.ca), a website dedicated to all things children’s literature. Nafiza currently lives in British Columbia with her family.