Friday, 1 June 2012


R. Historical novel-writing takes a great deal of research and diligence, even more-so than normal fiction-writing. How long did it take to get to this point of your career?

S. I started writing in 2004. I self-published my first book, 'Ibrahim - Where in the Spectrum Does He Belong?' in 2005 and it was an autobiographical account of my son who grew up with autism. I spent a year researching information on Lascars and spent a lot of time reading all sorts of book. This helped me develop my style of writing. I wrote Lascar in about a year. Although at the time, I thought that it was fully complete, I rewrote the novel about three times. So I think it took another three years to completely finish my novel and finally stop the rewrites! I had to end it at some point! It took time to get it right and it was a learning process all the way.

R. I remember studying Contemporary Indian History and the Mughal Empire during my University career. What interested you in the topic of Indian history?

S. One of my ancestors on my father’s side was a Lascar. Stories were passed down orally through generations.  The family history aspect of it inspired me to write the novel. I have always been interested in 19th-century history, particularly Indian history.  I've always been fascinated with Victorian history since I was at primary school. 

R. How did you form the concept of your novel?

S. I wanted to write a historical novel in the Victorian era, so i did just that. Lascar is an epic story and I wanted to include everything in one novel; hardship, poverty, murder, loss, prejudice, injustice, love and happiness and used these to form the novel. The first part of the novel is set in Sylhet, Eastern India (now Bangladesh), and Victorian England. It wasn't an easy novel to write.

R. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

S. That's a difficult one!  I read all sorts of books. I love Inbali Iserles and Sangeeta Bhargava.

R. What are you hoping that your readers take from your novel, what is the heart of its morale?

S. I wanted to write the novel in a fresh contemporary way for a new generation of a modern audience. The history of Lascars has been largely forgotten in history and I wanted to revive the rich and unique history. I wanted this novel to highlight the plight of Lascars. They were instrumental in the rise of the British Empire. I'm hoping people will learn about them through my novel.

Her book release in London, at the Brick Lane Bookshop, is on Thursday, 14th of June, 2012. To book, email

It's FREE :) but make sure you buy the book!

Shahida Rahman

1 comment: