Author Interview – Ramadan without daddy

It is a great pleasure to interview the author of Ramadan without daddy! Welcome Misbah Akhtar!
1) Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and bred in London although I lived in Dubai for a while. I love chocolate and all things horror whether it be games, movies or novels! I’ve been writing from a young age and was inspired in particular by Christopher Pike who remains my favourite writer. I’m a busy mum of 4, founder of Single Muslim Mums; and editor-in-chief of Mumspiration – my blog documenting my journey to become a more positive, mindful me.
I felt there was a need for it within our ummah (Muslim community). A story about different types of families to promote awareness about single motherhood and the challenges these mums face. It was an extension of the work I do for Single Muslim Mums. I believe it will aid parents in explaining the concept of divorce to their children, and I hope it is also a wake up call to all the absentee parents out there who don’t see the sadness left behind when they abandon their children.
2) What has been the reaction to the book before and after it was out? 
It’s been good. A lot of mothers have been calling for a book like this for a long time. They like the straightforwardness of the book in an easy to understand way for children and appreciate the honesty of how parents may behave and feel when going through a divorce/newly divorced. The book hasn’t been out that long and I’m hoping in time we see more titles like this in Islamic book shops and mosque book shops also.
3) What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on my debut novel entitled: The Jinn Within. It’s a horror story (of course!) about jinn possession and the impact that it has on one family. It has a lot of real elements to it based upon a true story; again, the aim is to promote awareness, this time about the the spiritual realm. It isn’t just a story but also a form of creating awareness for others about the different kinds of spiritual beliefs people have, in this case the belief in Jinn.
4) What other challenges have you faced in the writing industry?
Promoting and marketing your work as a Muslim author is certainly hard because we are only now starting to see fiction books written by Muslims for Muslims. I haven’t come across a published Muslim fiction book that deals with the horror the jinn can inflict on humankind (yay, I can be the first 😉),  or many books written for children talking about sensitive Islamic issues either. It’s therefore hard to gauge what the  reaction will be to such books, but I remain hopeful. Writing is also a lot of hard work  which I only now fully appreciate!
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Book review: Ramadan without daddy

RAMADAN WITHOUT DADDY  –   BOOK REVIEW

It is a pleasure to review this book which has entered the shelves of child book stores for families. As the title suggests the book is about a family adjusting to changes after separation/ divorce.  The book is an important contribution to the many other therapeutic resources written to help children to understand and adjust to the changes they may be going through after parental separation. My review is brief and will focus on what i think the book can offer.

First of all, it is really encouraging to see that the book is not only colourful and vibrant, but also represents ethnic diversity in the illustrations. This allows it to immediately relate to families who often feel not represented enough in mainstream literature, illustration and animation. The title also acknowledges one of the most recognised festive seasons celebrated and practiced in the world – Ramadan! The very use of this word in the title helps to normalise Muslim culture which is an important aspect of encouraging identity development for Muslim children. Immediately these factors convey the impression that this is a book that my children could relate to easily, and so I was pleased to be able to review the book and see for myself!

The general message of the book is of how children notice change and sadness, and how they try to make sense of it in their transition to a new smaller family unit after parental separation. The story provides hope about the future as we see the mother offering messages of encouragement to her children and their bond strengthening in return. The story itself could be experienced as quite sensitive dependant on the experiences of the family reading it, and the momentum of the sensitive topic is quick paced. The reader is swiftly brought into the reality of the changes experienced for the characters living at home ‘without daddy’. The characters include the mother and two children who exchange conversations about why daddy is no longer living at home. The main character is the older sibling and she tries to find ways of explaining the change to her younger brother.  There are some sad moments in the story for example, when the children are reflecting on how contact with daddy is decreasing over time, and how their Ramadan experience has changed. Equally, there are some very important messages for children. Such as the important notion that the changes are not their fault and will not feel the same way forever. This book read with plenty of time for reflection and musings could help to encourage children talk about any sensitive conversations it may open up. These conversations could serve therapeutic if engaged with sensitively by a nurturing carer. Therefore the book, in my view, would work best therapeutically when read with/ to a child by a nurturing adult, rather than kept for independent reading time.