The continuing search for awesome summer reads led us back to one of our favorite interviews from Portland Book Fest 2018 — and quite possibly one of our favorite book interviews ever! Somaiya Daud’s debut novel lit up the YA world. The book left us breathless, but even that couldn’t prepare us for an hour in Daud’s company. She is a dazzling conversationalist on sci-fan world-building, the joys of the YA genre, Victorian vs. classical Arabic literary forms, and much more. Also in the show: We meet one of Daud’s early inspirations and we say goodbye to a truly great literary journal.


Somaiya Daud's 2018 YA novel, "Mirage" takes place on Andala, a world with identafiable Moroccan influence, where society has been disrupted by Vathek invaders.

Somaiya Daud’s 2018 YA novel, “Mirage” takes place on Andala, a world with identafiable Moroccan influence, where society has been disrupted by Vathek invaders.

Courtesy of Flatiron Books / US Macmillan

The Panoramic Imagination Of Somaiya Daud — 2:26

When Somaiya Daud sat down to write “Mirage” she was drawing heavily from her own Moroccan heritage. But the book also became a place to indulge her affections for complex political drama. (Remember that stuff in Star Wars about the Trade Federation? She’s ALL INTO THAT.) 

Daud lays out the backstory on her teenage heroine, Amani. Born on a sleepy, rural moon of the planet Andala, her society is under the control of interplanetary conquerors. When Amani is abducted by imperial Vathek forces, she discovers she’s a ringer for the cruel Princess Maram and is expected to serve as a body double as political tensions heat up.

In a crowded YA field, Daud is remarkable for her imaginative powers, and her fresh voicing of characters often pushed to the margins of the publishing industry. Her follow-up novel, “Court of Lions,” is due out in May 2020. (Big ups to Daud for turning us on to the new title from Samantha Shannon.)


Susan Fletcher's 1989 classic, Dragon's Milk, was part of a generation of books for young readers pre-dating the industry mania for YA titles.

Susan Fletcher’s 1989 classic, Dragon’s Milk, was part of a generation of books for young readers pre-dating the industry mania for YA titles.

Courtesy of Simon and Schuster

A Mother of Dragons: YA Pioneer Susan Fletcher — 42:05

While we were working on this week’s show, we got to thinking about something Somaiya Daud said about the books she loved when she was a tween reader: the novels of Susan Fletcher. Starting with “Dragon’s Milk” in 1989, Fletcher awakened a generation of young readers to the joys of fantasy fiction. And as Daud pointed out, they often did so through stories populated by women. Fletcher spent most of her writing years in Oregon, part of a community of YA and children’s book authors that included Ellen Howard, Margaret Bechard, Pamela Smith Hill, Carmen Bernier-Grand, Dorothy Morrison and Fletcher’s mentor, the great Eloise Jarvis McGraw. We tracked down Fletcher in Texas for a conversation about her inspirations and how much has changed in the YA market.


After 20 years in print, Tin House will end production of its print literary magazine with the publication of its 80th edition in June 2019.

After 20 years in print, Tin House will end production of its print literary magazine with the publication of its 80th edition in June 2019.

Brian Schoonover/Flickr

Tin House Ends Its Celebrated Literary Magazine — 48:16

It’s the end of an era in Oregon literary history. The publishing company Tin House just printed the final issue of its vaunted literary magazine. A beautifully produced volume of fiction, essays and poems, Tin House championed up-and-coming writers alongside the greats.

Music Heard On 'State Of Wonder'

A Spotify playlist to share all the music we feature on our show and anything else that inspires us while we’re making it.