Today I’m welcoming Shaila Abdullah on my blog, the author of children’s picture book “Rani in Search of a Rainbow”.
How long have you been writing?
As a teenager, I used to write for various publications in Pakistan and even did some commissioned work for a major magazine and newspaper. After coming to the United States in 1995, it took ten years for me to start writing again. I guess I wanted to feel out this new land. My father has always been the driving force behind my writing. Initially when I stopped writing, I felt my father’s disappointment but he kept encouraging me to start again. When I did, I decided to not tell him and surprise him with a book in print––a collection of short stories called Beyond the Cayenne Wall. His extreme happiness at the news made it very rewarding.
Is Rani in Search of a Rainbow your first book? If not, please tell us a little about your first book.
No, in fact Rani in Search of a Rainbow is my fourth book.
My first book––Beyond the Cayenne Wall–– is a collection of stories about Pakistani women struggling to find their individualities despite the barriers imposed by society.
My second book is a novel called Saffron Dreams about a 9/11 Muslim widow. It has won many awards and it is taught at many major colleges and universities.
My third book is My Friend Suhana. I coauthored it with my daughter, and it deals with her friendship with a girl who has cerebral palsy.
My fourth book that was just released is titled Rani in Search of a Rainbow. It is based on the 2010 floods in Pakistan that affected 20 million people. Nearly 8.6 million of them were children.
Why did you choose to write a children’s picture book?
After writing two books for adults, I was ready for a new challenge. I had always been drawn to children’s books and decided to try writing for the young ones.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Not to take any rejection personal. When I develop a manuscript, I first test it with a group of readers and ask them to be brutally honest in their analysis. This process has helped me as a writer to perfect my work. Ask any published author and they will tell you about the discouraging stats of the publishing world. The rejection rate is close to 98% by some standards. Despite that, between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books are published each year in the US. My advice to any aspiring writer is this: enter this field if you are not afraid of rejection and can take criticism well. Write with humble goals in mind and don’t make fame your main objective. Finally, work hard to finesse your work and make persistence your friend. Do this all out of your own personal love for writing.
Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?
Yes. I finished working on the advance reading copies of my third children’s book called A Manual for Marco that will come out in February 2015. It is written from the perspective of an autistic child’s sibling and includes tips and suggestions to help siblings deal with their unique situation and how parents can help make accommodations for their differently abled children.
About The Book
Author: Shaila Abdullah
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Displaced by the Pakistan floods, Rani’s family has taken refuge at a relief camp where they are doing their part to help other flood victims. Eight-year old Rani wants to assist but doesn’t know how. Heeding the advice of her father to help in a way only children can, Rani embarks on a journey to bring true joy to a dear friend on the occasion of Eid.
Shaila Abdullah is an award-winning author and designer based in Austin, Texas. She is the author of four books: Saffron Dreams, Beyond the Cayenne Wall, My Friend Suhana, and A Manual for Marco. The author has received several awards for her work including the Golden Quill Award and Patras Bukhari Award for English Language. Several academic institutions have adopted her books as course study or recommended reading, including the University of California, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Indiana University, Boston University, California State University, and George Washington University. Learn more about the author at www.ShailaAbdullah.com.