This week on my blog, I have Aisha Saeed, author of the debut YA novel Written in the Stars, a contemporary YA novel about Naila, a Pakistani-American girl whose conservative immigrant parents push her towards marriage and away from the perfect boy she’s fallen in love with at school. I found this book completely compelling and relatable even from the very first page, so I was excited that Aisha Saeed found time to answer some of my questions. (Seriously, check out her bio! She is one busy lady!)
1) Which of your characters do you most identify with and why?
I feel I identify the most with my main character Naila. In Written in the Stars you see that her parents do love her a great deal and she loves them too, but that they are stricter than the traditional American parents are. She can’t date, she can’t go to prom, she can’t even go to events where boys might be. This was very similar to my own upbringing. While the rest of the story departs from my own personal journey once her parents discover she has a boyfriend and the consequences that follow, her initial home life mirrors my own very much. Like Naila, I loved my parents deeply but I also would get frustrated at the restrictions I had.
2) If you could give your Asian American kid readers one piece of advice, what would it be?
If you like seeing books with people who resemble you in some small way in the books you read, make sure to buy them, or get them from the library, and talk them up with your friends. The more you support the authors who write the books you want to read, the more books they will be able to produce, it’s as simple as that!
For Asian American kid readers who also want to write my biggest advice would be to keep pursuing this. Read voraciously and write with discipline on a regular routine. We need more diverse authors and the best way to become an author is to spend a great deal of time honing your craft.
3) Who is your favorite Asian American children’s author right now (other than yourself)?
I will read anything Jhumpa Lahiri writes. Seriously, if she put out a collection of her grocery store lists, I would be first in line to purchase them. I love the depth of her writing, her vivid story telling. Seeing her book on bookshelves was the first time I realized that perhaps people may care about South Asian stories. It was her book, Interpreter of Maladies, that helped me to overcome my fears and start trying to write the book out on bookshelves today.
About the Author:
Aisha Saeed is an author, mama, lawyer, teacher, and maker and drinker of chai. She is also the Vice President of Strategy for We Need Diverse Books™, a grassroots non-profit dedicated to creating essential changes in the publishing industry. While Aisha loves writing about a variety of topics, her main passion lies in channeling her inner teen. Her debut YA novel Written in the Stars was released March 2015 Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books. She is represented by Taylor Martindale at Full Circle Literary Agency. When Aisha isn’t writing or chasing her two little boys, you can find her reading, baking, doodling henna patterns, or daydreaming about eight consecutive hours of sleep. You can connect with Aisha at her website, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Tumblr.