Thursday, 23 February 2012

Three Thousand Miles for a Wish

'Three Thousand Miles for a Wish' is a work of non-fiction, a moving memoir about one woman's journey to find herself...through performing Hajj. It is a truly gripping story that tugs at one's heart.

I commend the author, Safiya Hussain, on her bravery. Writing one's own memoir, getting back in touch with one's emotions, is challenging! One even asks 'How do I describe my own life in the written word?' or 'Where on earth do I begin?'

It is the piecing together of a number of a short life stories, each harmoniously becoming one large work of art. It is not easy revealing one's inner-struggles, most intimate moments, to the world.

It's about time a book about Hajj was at the top five most downloaded Amazon ebooks as was 'Three Thousand Miles for a Wish.'

And how could one resist a book that contains such beautiful lines like:

I stared and stared at the girl in the full length mirror, unable to move. Who is she? It had to be me, of course. Not an angel. I had changed into my ihram.

Her [a mother's] love for me was a vast ocean in comparison to the droplets of love I had received from anybody else. Had she known of my sorrows, she would have taken her heart out of her beating chest and put it in the space where mine had died, I am sure.

I had the honour of interviewing the exemplary non-fiction author, Safiya Hussain.

1. How did you decide where to begin?

Sometimes, if you are lucky, something phenomenal will happen in your life that makes you utter the words 'I have got to put pen to paper, and write about this'. That's what happened to me when I went to Mecca for the journey of Hajj. A week after I returned from Saudi Arabia I got this urge to write my story and share it with the world. I was never a writer and I never knew I could write. But when my pen touched my paper the words began to flow and flow until they created the story that is today 'Three Thousand Miles for a Wish'.

2. You mention your mother a lot in your writing. Was she your inspiration?

My mother is my rock. Her faith is incredibly strong and I aspire to be like her one day. Throughout the ups and downs of writing this book she would always say 'don't give up - God never lets a person's hardwork go unrewarded'. Without her, there would be no book.

3. Why was it important for you to have this memoir published?

Something inside me, something unexplainable, would not let me let this go. It wasn't just a desire for me to write this memoir, it was more a need. I felt I needed to share this story with the world and to give them a little bit of what I had experienced first-hand.

4. What do you hope readers will learn from your novel?

That, after despair, comes hope.

4. What was the most challenging part about writing your novel?

There were two things that made me sweat profusely:

Firstly, waking up every morning and fearing that I would lose my words. There is no science behind writing, one day I would find myself writing as though this is all I've been doing my entire life and there are other days when no words would come out. I am not sure what it is that causes these two extremes but it is scary - especially when you're in the middle of a book and realise that this could be the end!

Secondly, the thought of sharing such personal details about my life and my character with everyone. I tried not to think about these worries until I had completed the novel. When I finished writing the last word, that's when I asked myself, 'Right, am I ready to share intimate details about my life with the rest of the world?' The answer was always 'no' but every night I would fall asleep knowing that if I died, the one regret I would have was to never publish this never have shared this beautiful journey of Hajj. I still feel nervous about laying my soul bare in this book, but I don't want to die with regrets.

5. What advice do you have for aspiring non-fiction writers?

Write from your heart. Don't write the way you think people want you to write. Let your heart speak out the words and they will eventually find their way to your pages.

6. What is your upcoming/next/new project?

Since I realised that I have some sort of way with words, I have blogged here and there and have plans to write three more novels. Stay tuned for those!

Download 'Three Thousand Miles for a Wish' as your latest ebook or purchase it, via AMAZON.

Follow Safiya via TWITTER and/or visit her website,

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

An Author's Image

Photographs taken by Mizan Ahmed,

Why is an author's image so important? It is significant for those who are curious about the person behind a piece of written work. But it is not ANY image that portrays the essence of an author. On the contrary, the image must look professional, natural and display a sort of 'author etiquette.'

I think Mizan Ahmed did a great job capturing my personality in these images. He gave as much attention to my candid/posed behaviour as he did to my book and signature. Therefore, an author's image is not limited to his/her attire or makeup, or even whether or not the picture is gray-scale or in-colour; it takes a great photographer to shoot a great image.

As a public figure, the author can use images for interviews, fan pages (ie. Facebook/Twitter) and personal website. It is for those readers, out there, who are curious to know the essence of an author, if unable to know him/her personally. The best advice I can give to any aspiring author who is ready for an image... 'Be yourself.'

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Does the Plot Make a Good Read?

You could give birth to an amazing plot, out of the most vivid imagination and describe it verbally to anyone. For example, 'A girl was murdered in the park, her body's like all over the snow, right?' But, does that plot make for a good read? I was posed this question last night and felt a need to share my thoughts with you.

If you were to read, 'A girl was murdered in the park....' would the line have honestly gripped you, pulled at your heartstrings to a point where you want to read further? Sure! Maybe...if it's in a straight-forward, to-the-point news article.

But, would that same line have gripped you if it was written in novel-format?

Let's say that you read this one line, then you picked up another crime fiction novel and it read something along the lines of, "The pristine white snow was not the same as it once was, etched by the stains of Sabrina's blood."

I made that line up and I'm hoping that it gripped you a lot better than the original one. There's colour mentioned, the victim has a name, and words like 'pristine' and 'etched' sound a lot better to me than 'clean' and 'marked.' I could have also used the terms, 'pure' and 'smeared.'

I always say that every story is worth telling, but when posed the question of whether or not a 'good plot' makes for a 'good read,' I'd say that the challenge is how to write it. Description is key.

When it comes to crime fiction masterpieces, there's Agatha Christie, Henning Mankell, or Stieg Larsson, experts on transforming their fantasies into written format and describing the plot as picturesquely as a movie clip.

Being a fan of the Swedish TV series, 'Wallander,' which was introduced to me by my husband, who was born and raised in Sweden, we've been reading one of the greatest crime fiction novelists of our time, Henning Mankell. And if you like Mankell, you'll love Larsson's Millennium Trilogy.

Practice will never make perfect as every writer, like any artist, is a perfectionist, knowing fully well that achieving perfection is impossible. BUT, practice can certainly make for excellent writing potential.