Hello everyone! To start with, I wish to say “Thank you” to Chris for giving me this wonderful opportunity to introduce myself and my work.
I’m happy I have to write this down instead of having to make a speech. You guessed it: I’m an introvert and a very shy person. I love to read, write, listen to music, and shop. I love to attend parties too, strangely enough. Talking about parties, I would never go toward a stranger and start talking about myself, let alone talk to them about my book! However, there’s one thing that I would do if I met a group of kids. I would sing songs, laugh, play, let them climb on my back and tell them stories—lots of them, as long as time permitted.
As a child, I used to write short stories and let my sisters read them. I remember the very first book that I wrote. It was a weird book that I had made by neatly arranging a few sheets of A4 paper, folding them into two, and then sewing them together. You don’t want to imagine what the book cover looked like. I guess even the worst book cover out there wasn’t as horrible as my hand-painted cover. The story was wonderful, though (my opinion at that time). My sisters loved my book and read it aloud whenever we played school at home. I wrote other short stories after that.
I was about 16 when I wrote a book describing my experience in boarding school. No one in my family had ever been to boarding school before, and my sisters were fascinated by all the things we were made to do at school. They also thought my story was very entertaining, especially in the parts that I recounted my embarrassment about using a common bathroom with all the other girls. That was the last book that I wrote until I embarked again on writing stories, which I never was able to complete. Wait! I wrote this book that describes the life of a young middle schooler in Saudi Arabia.
You might want to ask me what prompted me to write a book about a young girl in Saudi Arabia. I initially wanted to write about the experience of a young South African lady who came to Saudi Arabia to work as an ESL teacher. However, I then realised I would have to write about some really sensitive issues, which I believed would raise many eyebrows. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not scared. I just hate being in the spotlight. Yeah, as I said, I’m an introvert and I love my quiet life.
After much thought, I was convinced I had to write about a kid’s experience in Saudi Arabia. I love children’s stories. In fact, they’re one of my favourite genres, and I thought I would find my voice by writing for a particular age group. There was this group of Saudi kids that I used to tutor. I had the habit of telling them stories whenever we had a short break. I think I must have told them about one hundred stories or so (no kidding) during the two years that I tutored them. Some of the stories were those that my dad had told me when I was a kid. I made up the rest, and regardless, the kids were always fascinated by each one of them.
The idea of a young girl moving to Saudi Arabia came up one evening when one of the girls whom I tutored grumbled because she had to start wearing an abaya. And she was Saudi! If a young Saudi girl felt this way when it was part of their tradition, what about young girls who relocate to Saudi Arabia because one or both of their parents had a job offer and decided to move with their family?
That night when I sat in front of my computer, I started writing about Courtney Parker. It was so easy to write from Courtney’s point of view because I remembered how I felt the first time I boarded the plane to come to Saudi.
Debut book: Girl of the Book
I’ve just finalised the ebook version of the book, which will be published in December 2014. I intend to have the print version available early next year too.
It was a pleasure sharing this information with you. I’d be very pleased to connect with you. Please see my links below. I wish you all the best.