Author Log: Interview with Zeba Shahnaz, Author of Midnight Strikes

Midnight Strikes by Zeba Shahnaz book tour banner

Hello friends!

With today’s post I’d like to make two announcements; one, I am officially off my blog hiatus! It got a bit extended because uni started back up, but now I have my schedule planned out and am excited to share more posts!

And secondly, I am so excited to start a new series on the blog!! It has been a long-standing dream of mine to interview authors and I finally got to do it. So utterly grateful to TBR & Beyond Tours for the opportunity. This series is going to be titled AUTHOR LOG and it is going to be a bunch of writing and craft-related questions along with some fun ones.

And if you couldn’t already tell from the title, I had the chance to interview ZEBA SHAHNAZ, debut author of the recently released time-loop YA fantasy MIDNIGHT STRIKES!

But first, here’s a little bit about the book!


Midnight Strikes by Zeba Shahnaz book cover

In this explosive fantasy debut with a time-loop twist, a provincial girl must work with a roguish prince to stop an attack on the royal family and escape a nightmarish curse that forces them to relive the same night again and again.

Seventeen-year-old Anaïs just wants tonight to end. As an outsider at the kingdom’s glittering anniversary ball, she has no desire to rub shoulders with the nation’s most eligible (and pompous) bachelors—especially not the notoriously roguish Prince Leo. But at the stroke of midnight, an explosion rips through the palace, killing everyone in its path. Including her.

The last thing Anaïs sees is fire, smoke, chaos . . . and then she wakes up in her bedroom, hours before the ball. No one else remembers the deadly attack or believes her warnings of disaster.

Not even when it happens again. And again. And again.

If she’s going to escape this nightmarish time loop, Anaïs must take control of her own fate and stop the attack before it happens. But the court’s gilded surface belies a rotten core, full of restless nobles grabbing at power, discontented commoners itching for revolution, and even royals who secretly dream of taking the throne. It’s up to Anaïs to untangle these knots of deadly deceptions . . . if she can survive past midnight.




TITLE: Midnight Strikes
AUTHOR: Zeba Shahnaz
GENRE: YA Fantasy
PUBLISHER: Delacorte Press
RELEASE DATE: March 14, 2023


Zeba Shahnaz author photo

Zeba Shahnaz writes fantasy full of political intrigue, twisted romance, and a healthy dose of existential angst. A proud Pakistani American, she translated her love of storytelling into a graduate degree analyzing national identity, culture, and cinema in South Asia. She grew up in New Jersey, which she has yet to fully escape (though not because of a time loop). MIDNIGHT STRIKES is her debut novel.

Goodreads: Zeba_Shahnaz
Instagram: zaybashahwrites
Twitter: zaybashah

A mini-review for this enchanting YA fantasy:


It seems 2023 is going to be a year in which I read books that involve time loops/time in some way. Midnight Strikes is the third such book and the first time loop fantasy that I have read. If I had to sum it up in one word, I would call it incredible. Because what a wonderful story, this is. From start to the finish, it is an incredibly exciting and emotional journey. To see Anais grow from the person she is at the beginning to who she is at the end was amazing; her character growth made this book an instant 5-star read for me. I will be thinking about this book for a very long time.

Midnight Strikes is an enchanting time loop fantasy, filled with deadly court intrigue, characters with mysterious motives and a magic system that just might make it your next favourite read.

And now onto the interview and Zeba’s delightful answers!

Q1) Was there a specific moment that made you want to be a writer? 

I can’t remember a specific moment; when I was a kid, the idea of being a writer of some kind always felt like a foregone conclusion. I wavered on that as I grew up and realized how difficult it is to become a published author, let alone make it a full-time job, but I effectively had one (1) skill, and it was writing, so I knew I had to try and see it through. D3AAAA

Q2) Has Anaïs’ personality changed from the early drafts or has it remained the same?

Anaïs has been pretty consistent in the broad sketches of her character arc. She starts as an introvert who’s hyper-conscious of her place in society and responsibility to her family, only to find herself in an impossible situation that forces her to come of age. What has changed is how much emphasis that character arc gets on the page.

When I was first working on this book, the plot was always the focus—how to get from one reveal to the next, how to construct the puzzle pieces and get Anaïs to put them together—and it wasn’t until I was probably partway through the first or second draft that I realized that this couldn’t just be an adventure story. To have any weight, this book had to make Anaïs the unequivocal star of the show, and I’m really glad she is now.

Q3) Without spoiling anything, is there a specific moment that you are excited for people to read?

Every time I think about readers picking up this book, I imagine them reading a different scene. One of my favorites is about halfway through the book, when Anaïs has given up hope for the time being and finds support and hope in an unexpected place. I remember writing the dialogue in that scene on my phone’s notes app during a commute many years ago, and seeing that scene on the page has been such a thrill. So excited for people to discover it too!  

Q4) If you had to sum up Midnight Strikes, in one sentence, it would be…

Midnight Strikes is a Cinderella story caught in a brutal time loop, full of star-cross’d romance, action, mystery, and existential angst.

Q5) Time for a fun question! If you were a part of the Midnight Strikes world, what sort of role do you think you’d have? And would you survive in this world? 👀

Oooh, great question! I’ll go with what I’d like to be: a noblewoman from Landaula or another province farther from the center of power, who gets to marvel at the glories of the Anniversary Ball (and eat the food) but doesn’t have to deal with the cutthroat politics of the royal court. I’d like to think I’d be smart enough to leave before it got late, but you would 100% find me on the dance floor as midnight strikes, and I would 100% die.  

Q6) And lastly, are there any 2023 debuts that you would like to recommend to the readers of this post?

So many fellow 2023 debuts’ books are on my radar and/or sitting on my bookshelf, so this is just a smattering: Maiya Ibrahim’s Spice Road, Trang Tranh Tran’s She is a Haunting, Kika Hatzapolou’s Threads that Bind, Jenna Voris’s Made of Stars, Skyla Arndt’s Together We Rot, and Hannah Sawyerr’s All the Fighting Parts.

Thank you Zeba for your wonderful answers! I loved reading them so much! And thank you once again to TBR & Beyond Tours for having me on the book tour for Midnight Strikes!

Be sure to check out MIDNIGHT STRIKES, out in stores now!!

thanks for reading, nihaarika

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