Renée Ahdieh on The Beautiful

Renée Ahdieh is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Renée enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog.

What inspired you to write THE BEAUTIFUL?

I’ve had the idea for this book in my head since I was a teenager, when I first fell in love with Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I wanted to create something as lush and transportive, and I always felt that New Orleans was such a perfect place to set such a sinister, sensual story.

Did you have to do any special research for THE BEAUTIFUL?

The best kind of research to me always involves some kind of immersion. I’ve been lucky enough to travel and write in New Orleans countless times over the last ten years, and I can safely say its people, its cuisine, and its rich history continue to astound me on a daily basis. The fact that I got to eat all the beignets I could ever want and still call it research is one of the many gifts in this wonderful job.

Celine, Bastien and Michael are such different characters. How would you describe them?

Celine is the most like me of any character I’ve ever written. She’s careful and quick-witted, but also conceals a lot of fear and uncertainty beneath her bravado. Bastien is . . . a delicious mys- tery. He’s smart and forward-thinking, but also hampered by the expectations of his time and his own difficult past. Michael is probably the cleverest of them all, but his pride can absolutely be his downfall.

What was your favourite scene to write and why?

I would probably have to say the scenes written from the villain’s perspective were among my favorite. But I also love a scene that takes place in a garden maze. I’ve wanted to write it for so many years, and it was thrilling to finally get the chance to put it to paper.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

I think the biggest challenge to me is always doing the story in my head justice when I write it down. I want my readers to fall in love with this world and these characters just as I have, and the perfectionist side of my nature can always manage to find ways to make something “better.” But good artists should know when to put down their paintbrushes!

Did you listen to any particular songs/playlists whilst you wrote this?

I am a huge lover of music. I listened to a lot of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky while writing this. Also the soundtrack to Interview With the Vampire. Billie Eilish was definitely on repeat a lot, too.

Describe THE BEAUTIFUL in 5 words.

Dark. Delicious. Mysterious. Sexy. Surprising.

What can you tell us, if anything, about the next book in the series?

I can only say that all the books in this series are meant to stand alone. Obviously I think a read- er’s experience will be much stronger having read them all, but every story is another character’s tale. You could read any of them if you wished!

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