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Today, we have the charming Zara J. for another insightful interview in our section Love Stories. Zara J. will hopefully share with us her works, her most recent release; American Boy, and answer questions about her growing publishing house.
Q1: Assalamu aleikum sister Zara. Please tell us something we don’t know about you.
Wa alaikum salaam. That’s a very hard question. Perhaps something silly such as, I’ve seen the movie Avatar about fifty times and I think it’s one of the greatest movies ever.
Very cool! I like Avatar. It gives me bitter-sweet memories.
Q2: How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
I have written a total of six books, three are under urban/African American fiction and the last two are Islamic/Muslim fiction. I would have to say my favorite is Dowry Divas. I wrote that book during a trying time and I feel close to all of the main characters in the book and most women say the same.
Q3: My favorite in your new collection is American Boy. What are the inspirations behind Céline-the villain and Umar-Mr. GQ?
Thank you! Celine in my eyes is a very true to life character. She’s spunky and I think a lot of women can find humor in her character. I love Umar. His character is struggling with finding a balance of being a first generation American Muslim that found his way to popularity in society. Just like all of us he’s not the perfect Muslim but he desires to do better and to correct his faults. Umar has a soft heart and in my imagination is very good looking, haha.
Haha, me too!
Q4: Does Céline get a happy ending in your future works?
I’ve been considering a part two. Happy ending, maybe not. However, I’m sure Celine will always have a story with a dramatic close.
Q5: Do you have any suggestions and advices to aspiring writers? If so, what are they?
Do your research. You have to be passionate about writing and look at it like a career not a hobby. There are lots of different avenues but you have to want and desire to build your platform with patience. There are no such things as overnight successes but you can be consistent and build the following that you deserve. Also, it’s important to network with other authors. There’s power in numbers.
Ah! Maybe one day when I quit I will transition to full business, haha! And true, patience is required to build a platform and a target audience.
Q6: What pushed you to start University Publications? How can interested writers become a part of your team?
I started University Publications to give new authors a jump start with the knowledge I’d acquired in publishing since 2012. It would be a unified outlet for Muslim authors to produce Muslim Fiction that is contemporary to the American Muslim culture. I had a hard time finding relative tales to that experience upon becoming Muslim.
Q7: Do you have a favorite author? If yes, who and why?
Yes, I have a favorite author but her work is far from clean! Allison Hobbs has to be one of the greatest writers I’ve ever read. Her characters are memorable and her plots are so out of this world I never know what to expect.
Hmm, I will have to check her out. Hehe…
Q8: I believe that Muslim Authored Fiction should include a fair amount of dawah, not too preachy because as Muslims we will answer to how we used our talents to promote Islam. I also don’t think that a novel has to be non-fiction or categorized as inspirational fiction to achieve this purpose. What is your stand on that?
I agree it doesn’t have to be a part of those genres to deliver dawah or give readers a closer look at Islam. It’s all about how you write it. You can pretty much write about anything in this world or religion but it’s the way the plot is delivered that makes a difference for how it is received. In my opinion, however you can get the message out there do it just keep in mind you have to take accountability for what you write.
Q9: It was a pleasure having you at Hayati Magazine and picking your brain a little ;). Now, please share with us your social media links for readers to find out more about you and your growing business insha Allah.
Visit http://www.UPublications.com for submission information! Stay updated with 2014 releases by visiting University Publications on Facebook!
Jazak’Allah khair for reading,