Hi, everyone! It has been quite a busy few weeks as I work on Book 2 of The Book of Astoriya series, The Book of Astoriya-The Land of the Everlasting Sun. So much writing and researching happening as I work to make Book 2 as good as, if not better than Book 1!
But, I did manage to take a short break from my writing to contribute to Quinns Beach Primary School's Book Week event in Perth, Australia! The Book of Astoriya-The Land of the Blooming Forest was one of the many great books that were featured in the event thanks to the efforts of Ms. Pauline Moss, Quinns Beach Primary's very own Instructional Coach/Senior Teacher.
I also had the pleasure of answering some great questions from Quinns Beach Primary's Year 6 students as part of an Author Interview. I was really pleased with how thoughtful the questions were, and I enjoyed answering every one of them. So, why not share the interview with all of you? Here it is:
Hello there, Quinns Beach Primary School! I’m Deema T. Kheiry, author of The Book of Astoriya-The Land of the Blooming Forest. I have received some really great questions from your Year 6 students, and I would love to answer them for you today.
1) Why did you decide to write a book?
Well, my youngest daughter, Tala, was preparing to go to school for the first time. So, I wanted to write a little story for her so that she felt ready for that experience. As I was writing, I realized just how much I enjoyed it. So, I decided to write another story for my eldest daughter, Safa, and that is how my journey as an author began.
2) What gave you the idea for the title?
The Book of Astoriya is going to be a series of four books. Each book will be represented by a season of the year. ‘The Land of the Blooming Forest’ represents spring, and the book I am working on now, ‘The Land of the Everlasting Sun,’ represents summer. The titles for autumn and winter still haven’t been announced so you’ll have to stay tuned for that! As for ‘The Book of Astoriya’, well, you will need to read the book to find out why I chose that to be the title.
3) How long did it take to publish the book?
The Book of Astoriya started out as one big novel. But then I realized that there was still so much of the story that I wanted to tell. So, I decided to break it down into a four-part series. The first book took about two years from start to finish, including the illustrations which were done by my very talented friend, May Al-Husseini. Hopefully, with the experience I have gained, the next books will be published sooner.
4) During the process of writing the book, did you ever feel like giving up?
I believe that every author, no matter how experienced, does feel like giving up at one point or another. Writing a good story can be challenging, and at some points, I have faced a situation where I wasn’t sure whether the story was going in the right direction, or if it was good enough. During those times, I did feel like giving up. But then I would remember just how much I loved what I was doing, and the fact that it was challenging was actually part of the fun. So, I would take a few days to think about how to fix the problem and then get right back to it. And I am really glad that I didn’t give up because now I have something special to share with the world.
5) Did you base the characters’ personalities on real people?
Yes, absolutely! The main character, Sofie, and her sister, Natalie, are based on my daughters, Safa and Tala. The other characters I have in the book represent different types of personalities that we face with our experiences. Basing characters on real people is an author’s worst-kept secret!
6) What made you choose fantasy as a genre?
I love fantasy! Ever since I was a little girl, I loved reading books that took me into a completely different world, and magic was definitely a plus. So, when I decided to write this story, fantasy was definitely the way to go.
7) How did you come up with the names of the characters, lands, and territories in the story?
Well, I already mentioned that the names of the lands are based on the seasons of the year. As for the characters, Sofie and Natalie’s names are based on my daughters’ names, Safa and Tala. As for the fairies, I named them all after different types of flowers. Every name I choose has a meaning that represents the character or the way it looks. I am not ashamed to say that I spent a fair share of time on baby-name websites!
8) How do you imagine that readers will respond to your story?
Oh well, that is a tough one! Honestly, I think every author is worried about what readers will think of their books. There are so many people out there with many different tastes and interests when it comes to books. I am hoping that people who read my book will find something in it that they like or that they can relate to. And, if I reach only one person who feels that my book made a difference in his/her life, then I will consider that to be a great success.
9) Do you want to write other books?
Yes, definitely. I have three more books on the way for the Book of Astoriya series. Then I have another series in mind after that. I plan on being very busy for the next few years!
10) Have you ever written any other stories before this one, which never reached publication?
Does Tala’s First Day of School count? I don’t think so. No, actually. The Book of Astoriya-The Land of the Blooming Forest is my first full-length novel and I did everything I could to make sure that it reached publication.
11) What do you think makes a good story?
Oh, this is a great question! In fact, it is the first question I asked myself before I started writing The Book of Astoriya-The Land of the Blooming Forest. I believe that a good story is a mixture of a few features.
First of all, interesting events that flow consistently from the beginning of the story until the end. Also, having characters that are relatable to your audience. You want to have a main character that your readers will root for, and want to succeed.
And, most importantly, having a message. It can be any message you want to send to your readers. I think it is important because it gives meaning to the story you are writing. But the challenge is for the message to be subtle, meaning that you are not just spelling it out for the reader like, ‘bullying is bad’. Rather, you are hinting at that message through the events of the story itself, and letting your readers figure it out on their own.
Well, these were some really great questions and I enjoyed answering every one of them. I would really like to thank Ms. Moss and the Year 6 students for giving me the chance to answer them for you all.
If you would like more information about The Book of Astoriya series or about my journey as an author, you are more than welcome to visit my website: www.deematkheiry-author.com
Thanks, everyone, and don’t forget to keep reading!