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Kia Abdullah Interview

Posted on 15 September 2006. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to Kia Abdullah, WW member and British-Asian Author of Life, Love and Assimilation

Tell us something about your background.

I completed my debut novel, Life, Love and Assimilation, in early 2005 and it was published a year later. It follows the story of a young Asian Muslim girl living in East London and all the problems that she faces including arranged marriage, discrimination and drug abuse in the area. I have written articles about various topics including the 7/7 bombings for Eastern Eye newspaper and am currently writing my second novel (working title Childís Play) which is a crime thriller and very different from my first novel.

At the moment, Iím juggling writing with a full-time job in Computing so I donít really have time for much else including a social life!

How did you start writing?

Writing is something I have always loved but prior to publishing Life, Love and Assimilation, I hadnít actually had any professional writing experience. From a young age I was encouraged to write by teachers and friends but I chose a more staid career path and studied Computer Science at university. It was only after graduation that I had enough free time to write seriously. I started writing Life, Love and Assimilation in 2004. At the same time, I was maintaining a blog, which gathered a substantial following. It was those readers that encouraged me to pursue writing and complete my first novel.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

I have a multitude of favourite writers; Harper Lee, Alice Walker, L. M. Montgomery. More recently, Khaled Hosseini who wrote a stunning debut and Jodi Picoult who covers topics that are so different from anything else out there. I canít say I have any direct influences as I write from a very personal perspective but I think in general, writing good books is a result of reading good books.

How did you get your first agent/ commission?

I approached about eight agents that specialised in ethnic/multicultural writing. I received eight rejection letters. Two were very personalised and encouraging and picked up on specific things in my manuscript so I knew that they had paid attention to it. I decided to get my manuscript proofread, which turned out to be a fantastic decision as it was my Proofreader who sent my manuscript to a contact at Adlibbed and it all snowballed from there.

What's the worst thing about writing?

Having to be extremely self-disciplined. There may be days on end where you donít feel inspired and you donít want to write but you have to be disciplined and take the time out to sit down and write. Otherwise, you would never get a manuscript finished.

And the best?

Getting a positive reaction from my readers. I have had readers contact me to say that Life, Love and Assimilation made them cry or made them angry or made them yell out loud and itís such an amazing feeling to know that I can affect someone on an emotional level through my writing. It may sound like a clichť but itís true.

Tell us what kind of responses you get from audiences\ readers.

Life, Love and Assimilation has had responses ranging from the extremely positive to the extremely negative. The negative reactions are a result of the fact that the book tackles a lot of unpopular subjects in the Asian community (e.g. drug abuse, child abuse). However, itís for the exact same reason that I have had people tell me they love the book. I have been told itís audacious and inspiring. If the feedback has taught me anything, it is this; stay true to yourself and donít hold back because for every detractor, there will be at least one supporter.

What was your breakthrough moment?

Getting noticed by local papers. Local papers are such an important starting point for first-time writers. In general, national newspapers only pick up and promote new writers if they have already had some positive press. The only way to get this is to get local papers behind you.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Comments by other Members

Luisa at 08:31 on 16 September 2006  Report this post
Great interview, and I love your website. I'm looking forward to your column in the Guardian!

anisoara at 08:47 on 17 September 2006  Report this post
Yes, a good and interesting interview. Thanks Kia.

Nik Perring at 10:14 on 21 September 2006  Report this post
Thanks for sharing, Kia. All the best.


EmmaD at 14:57 on 23 September 2006  Report this post
Hope The Guardian's reading this! Great interview, and gives an insight into one kind of writing that takes more courage even than most.


optimist at 14:07 on 24 September 2006  Report this post
Thank you for the interview, Kia. I look forward to reading your book.


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