Are you ready to hear this classic story told from the other side?
BY NIC CROSARA
For years, I have been getting lost in the worlds and characters that Aminah Mae Safi creates. I love how she’s written books like Tell Me How You Really Feel that centre women of colour who love each other. Aminah’s three previous novels have been contemporary young adult book, but her new book Travelers Along The Way: A Robin Hood Remix is out today and it tackles the genres of fantasy, adventure and historical fiction to swashbuckling effect.
In this remix, Aminah tells the story from the other side. Set in Jerusalem, 1192, The Third Crusade rages on. We meet Rahma al-Hud who followed her sister Zeena into the war over the Holy Land. All she wants is to get herself and her sister back home in one piece, but Zeena refuses to give up the fight. Oh and pssstt… if you love heists, you need to add this one to your to be read shelf immediately.
I got the chance to talk to the author ahead of the release of this wonderful book. Her face lit up with joy as we spoke about how she went about approaching the historical genre. She spoke about how she wanted to give readers the sense of how maps expand in adventure video games. “That was really important, because once you understand that in your brain, the past becomes a lot less boring. It becomes a lot less ‘oh they just didn’t get it’ and ‘we’re so much smarter’, that’s not true, it’s just they had a different toolkit.”
“That’s what I think the most rewarding is taking these big history things that people often get taught in school in a way that is incredibly mind numbing and making it come alive and making them feel like they are a part of it and they can understand it without a lot of work.”
When I asked how she approached incorporating queerness into the historical setting, Aminah acknowledges that queer people have always existed. “Who could exist, and how they could exist and how they could inhabit a body that was their own. Trying to find that way was very important to me with every character.”
In Travelers Along The Way, Aminah portrays the important themes from the original story and reworks them to be unique. Set in the same time period, but transported to a different setting. Readers will love the phenomenal protagonist and the misfits she meets along the way that remind us of the importance of found family.
If you love re-tellings that allow more readers to see ourselves centred in the stories we love, you’re in luck. This book is part of a series of remixed classics by different authors of colour, from The Great Gatsby to Little Women.
Want to hear more from the author? Keep your eyes peeled for our April issue 😉
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