Friday 8 December 2017

Author Interview with Zanib Mian

Zanib Mian is a Molecular Cell Biologist and Founding Director of Sweet Apple Publishers. She grew up in London, where she still lives with her family. Zanib wrote her book The Muslims in response to the surge of faith-based bullying as, reported by Child Line and the NSPCC. She hopes it will help counteract some of the negative stereotypes of Muslims.

Many people dream of becoming writers, what made you put pen to paper and actually write a book? 
When I had my own kids I realised that there were little or no books available that were representing them or other kids of minority ethnic backgrounds and that’s why I decided to start writing. I gradually then moved into writing Islamic books

What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you and your writing? J.R.R Tolkien, Patricia Highsmith, Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
Roald Dahl and Dr Seuss – I used to read their books a lot when I was younger and I absolutely loved them (and still do!)

Other than books, my kids and all other kids that I have interacted with have great influence on my writing.

What inspired you to write your book? I think my 9 year old son gave me a lot of inspiration to write The Muslims – I wanted kids of his age to have a book in which they could see themselves – and a fun and exciting book at that, something that would represent them and help them to be more comfortable in their own skin and with their identity. I couldn’t find a children’s book that was about a main Muslim character, so I thought Omar in The Muslims could potentially be a young boy that other Muslim children could relate to and laugh with.

Where do you get your ideas for your books? I’d say I’m very much in touch with my inner child! Ideas can come to me from the simplest daily things that I might hear or say myself. For example, my son came down the stairs one day wearing two un-matching socks which gave me the idea to write my book Oddsockosaurus. It’s very rare that I will sit down and think about things to write about.

What do you love most about writing? Making kids feel and consider things that they might not have maybe otherwise felt. Opening windows for kids into different worlds that they might not have explored yet.

For the Islamic aspect I try to develop a deep love of Allah in kid’s hearts in a way which I haven’t currently seen conveyed in kid’s books. I love the idea of making Islam relatable for kids, be that in a book about hadith, duas or stories of the prophets. It’s phenomenal if the books are able to impact a child in such a way that it can influence their life and relationship with Allah.

Do you ever suffer from writers block and if so, how do you overcome it? If I ever feel like I am experiencing writers block I take myself to a place where I can work on the task at hand without any distractions, like a café maybe. This helps me to get into the right frame of mind.

What have you learned about yourself or your world through the process of becoming an author?
That I’m very much in touch with my inner child. I learn quite a fair bit of Islamic knowledge too for example I learnt a lot of the various prophets when writing Migo & Ali – Love for the Prophets.

When writing The Muslims, I felt it helped me become more comfortable with my own identity as a Muslim, that I don’t have to hide who I am, for example I don’t have to be shy about asking for a place to pray if I am out of the house.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Be yourself, write how it comes naturally to you. Your voice is unique!

Do you have a final message for your readers? Thanks for all of your love and support. Be Muslim with confidence!

You can find out more about Zanib at the website for Sweet Apple Publishers and about her latest book The Muslims here or even watch the book trailer here.

We have a copy of The Muslims so look out for a book review to follow.

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