Shoohada Khanom had four books released recently. I was honoured to read three of them and had the privilege to interview her so we can all get to know her a little better.
For those who don’t know you, can you tell us more about yourself?
Yes of course, but firstly I would like to say a massive Jazakallah khairan to you for doing this, it really means a lot to me. Okay, so I’m a writer and a children’s book author. I’m also a mother and a wife. I come from a big family and have been blessed with a family of my own, Alhamdulillah. I love reading and writing and that’s where most of my free time goes.
Why did you decide to write specifically children books?
Well, I would say it chose me. I’ve always loved reading, so much so when I found out I was pregnant with my first child I made a ‘to buy list’ for her. As soon as she was born I placed my order and happily introduced reading to her from birth. When she was around 2 years old, I had a story idea, out of nowhere it came to me. It played in my head for a few days and then I thought I needed to write it out. And it sort of started off from there really.
Do you see yourself writing books for a different age group in the future?
Yes, absolutely bi’itnillah! I’m working on a young adult novel at the moment. I hope to spend the rest of 2017 working on it and a few other picture books that need polishing up, InShaAllah.
Which of your books is your favourite and why?
They are all my favourites, all for different reasons.
‘Kamillah the Butterfly’ because I love Blue Morpho butterflies and the message behind it. ‘Who Could I be?’ Because it’s fun! ‘Imagine’ because it’s creative, humorous to some extent and it also reminds me of my son Zakariya, who’s got an over imaginative mind. ‘Little Blue Skater boy’ because adhkars are important to me and the main character looks like my son Isa. Minus the round face shape and skate board. Allahumma barik lahum.
Why did you decide to publish with Djarabi Kitabs?
I chose to publish with Djarabi Kitabs because I have sincere love for the founder, SubhanAllah. I’ve known Papatia for just over a year now, we met as writers in a workshop and decided to keep in touch. I also know she’s a hard worker and her dedicated team will take good care of me and my books and that’s really important to me as an author. I had my first picture book published in 2013 and had no after care. Which completely threw me off writing, hence I disappeared off the scene. I was very naive and put a lot of trust into that particular publisher. I try my best to step aside and see the good in any given situation. So from that experience, I took away what I want and don’t want from a publisher. Djarabi Kitabs ticked every single box for me on my want side, Alhamdulillah.
Describe a working day, how do you write? How do you get in the mood, snacks, drinks, and environment?
My typical day is running after my family. I have a set writing time for myself from 9 pm on wards. I don’t write every day because most days I’m exhausted, so on those particular days, I’ll happily sit on the sofa with a book. I have a baby and toddler at home with me, sometimes if I’m lucky they might nap at the same time, I’ll use this opportunity to get some writing done. I prefer to use paper and pen. For the little time I have, my minutes are not wasted opening up a laptop or turning on my desktop. I use google doc App on my phone for editing, for the ease of opening and closing. Alhamdulillah, I’ve never been stuck with my writing, or as one would say having writer’s block, Alhamdulillah. When I write I prefer complete silence and no distractions, that includes my phone, drinks and snacks.
Which of the common advice to writers do you stick to?
I would say having a set writing time. And if you’re not in the mood for writing, try and sit with a book instead.
What is your advice to writers?
The advice I would give is the same advice I was given. Acknowledge you’re a writer, start writing, try your best to set a writing time and be consistent. Read loads, whatever you enjoy and especially the genre you want to write for. It will pay off in the long run, InShaAllah.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Definitely my children. Observing them and conversations we have, alone give me plenty of ideas for my notebook. Example, my son Zakariya went through a phase of imagining crazy things, I thought that would make a brilliant story. And that’s where the story idea for ‘Imagine’ came from.
Do you prefer e-books or physical books and What are some of your favourite books (not written by you)?
I prefer physical books 100%, I’ll happily pay the extra cost to have it in my hands. I actually find reading, turning pages and even holding to some extent quite relaxing. Some of my favourite books are ‘Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ both by Khaled Husseini. I loved ‘Alif the Unseen’ by G.Willow Wilson and ‘An Ember In The Ashes’ by Sabaa Tahir. I also enjoyed reading ‘Small Great Things’ by Jodi Picoult and ‘Necessary Lies’ by Diane Chamberlain. I like reading a variety of genres and mostly read recommendations from a Bookclub I’m joined to called ‘Bookclubbers’, the ladies there pick brilliant books, especially ones that I wouldn’t pick out myself. The best bit is, we choose a book a month and read them at the same time, it’s pretty cool.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading ‘THUG- The Hate You Give’ by Angie Thomas. It’s a New York number one best seller. The reviews that were coming out were amazing and I needed to know what the fuss was about, so I ordered myself a copy. I’m half way through and I can hand on heart say this is a must read for any YA fans out there.
Until Next Time,