About Karuna Riazi
Karuna Riazi is a born and raised New Yorker, with a loving, large extended family and the rather trying experience of being the eldest sibling in her particular clan. Besides pursuing a BA in English literature, she is an online diversity advocate, blogger, and publishing intern. Kaurna is fond of tea, Korean dramas, writing about tough girls forging their own paths towards their destinies, and baking new delectable treats for friends and family to relish.
Q: When did you first know that you wanted to pursue writing as a career?
A: I think I’ve known since I was around four or five! My mom has a bound book I wrote around that age – and illustrated, a feat I can no longer accomplish, I’m sorry to say, since my drawing skills didn’t progress too far from there! – and even though I didn’t start writing with a serious eye toward publication until my late middle school years, I was always scribbling down ideas and thinking about what made stories so intriguing to me.
Q: You are a mentor through Author Mentor Match. How did you first get started with them and what was your motivation for working with them?
A: Author Mentor Match is an ongoing project dreamed up by some awesome fellow 17ers! I hopped onboard when they were looking for dedicated mentors since several other friends were involved. My main motivation for being involved was the fact that I’ve been helped so much by so many people since I joined this community, and I’m enjoying the chance to be able to give back to the community.
Q: What was your inspiration for The Gauntlet?
A: It’s actually part of the jacket copy now, but Jumanji is a huge inspiration! Also, Labyrinth.
Q: Do you have a favorite place to write or read?
A: Wherever there’s sun, silence and a hot cup of tea, I’m there!
Q: Who are some authors/writers that you look up to?
A: There are a lot of brilliant people I admire, and there are many of them I am now blessed to be able to talk to and soak up some of their wisdom, including – and in no way restricted to – Ellen Oh, Aisha Saeed, Sabaa Tahir, Nova Ren Suma, Tessa Gratton, Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton!
Q: What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
A: If we’re talking basics, chocolate, but I’m also good with mint chocolate chip or anything minty, really!
Q: If you could be any “animal,” real or mythical, what would you be?
A: A dolphin, because they are cute, brave and incredibly smart! Also, they get to hang out in the sea all day – total plus.
Q: What is your best childhood memory?
A: Hmm. Maybe holding my baby brother for the first time! (My sister is too close in age for me to remember holding her properly.)
A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.
When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.
Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?