Today, Sabina Khan, the author of The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali is dropping by to answer some questions on her writing process, what querying looked like for her and more!
Make sure you check out her book here! It’s one of my favorites.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I wanted to be a writer ever since elementary school when I’d write about kids having fantastical adventures. None of those stories ever had characters that looked like me. Of course, those stories never saw the light of day. But I began to seriously consider writing when my own daughters were reading young adult books and I wanted them to read books which featured characters, who like them, lived at the intersection of two different cultures.
What do you love the most about writing?
Writing allows me to go into the depths of my imagination in a way that nothing else can. I can live vicariously through my characters and share their experiences with my readers. Plus, my kids are all grown up now and this is the closest I get to telling people what to do these days.
What draws you to YA Fantasy (if your book is fantasy? if not you can just put YA!) What is your favorite thing about the genre?
I write mostly YA Contemporary at the moment, although I have concrete plans to write fantasy in the near future. What I love about contemporary is that I can mine so much from my everyday life, as a child living in Germany and Bangladesh, as well as a mother raising children in North America. It allows me to tap into the rich cultural tapestry that makes up the life of a South Asian Muslim immigrant.
What is or has been your biggest writing struggle? How did you learn to overcome that struggle?
My biggest struggle has been self-doubt which I imagine is pretty common. There are days when I go from feeling incapable of producing anything other than garbage, to feeling like a sorceress who can enchant readers with her words and everything in between. It’s a wild ride but I learn something new every day. What continues to help me overcome my doubts is hearing from readers. Knowing that my words and my stories can touch the hearts of people, even just a single person, is enough to drown out my inner voice when it tells me I’m no good.
A lot of our readers are on the querying journey. What was your querying journey like? Do you have advice for writers in the querying trenches?
My biggest advice for writers who are just starting on this journey is to believe in yourself. Even when the world is telling you otherwise, which it will, don’t let it snuff out the passion you feel for your stories. I’m glad I didn’t listen to anyone who told me that no one would care about stories that featured people of color and their triumphs and struggles. I’m glad I didn’t give up when people suggested that I try to get published “wherever I’m from”. I can’t claim that I didn’t almost give up several times, but each time I did I was able to find support and encouragement somewhere. Find yourself a community of like-minded, supportive people who will stand by you through the ups and downs (of which there will be many), and who will always believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself. I have to give a huge shout-out to the Pitch Wars community which has been simply amazing. Remember to keep yourself open to opportunities, even if you don’t think you can make it. You may be surprised. I know I was, and I hate to think that I may have missed out on this fabulous adventure.
If possible, can you tell us about your current WIP?
My current WIP deals with Islamophobia and immigration and it’s about losing the only place you’ve ever called home. I hope I can share more about it soon!