Saturday, April 19, 2008

Inspiration in the countryside

I still remember when the idea for 'From Somalia, with Love' came to me. As a writer, one of my idiosyncrasies is that I never write a story until it has 'told itself' in my head. It may come to me in a dream or in a moment of imagining or keep growing in the back of my mind until it is ready to be told. Either way, I never write it down until the story has been told.

So it was with FSWL. I was on a retreat with a group of Somali teenagers and some older sisters at a beautiful old house in the country. The venue was secluded and relaxed; plums and apricots grew in the orchard, blackberries in the bushes. We were able to totally relax, roam the grounds, play tennis, basketball, go for midnight walks and explore to our heart's content. It was wonderful, masha Allah.

It was there that the thought of Somali poetry came to me. I remembered reading somewhere that poetry is an important part of Somali culture. And I thought of a young girl, a young poet, whose father came from Somalia to live with her and her Hoyo - and the story unfolded in my mind.
I spent the rest of that retreat asking questions, observing, absorbing the girls' mannerisms and some basic Somali. And the story and its characters began to take shape...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The journey begins...

"Original, funny and beautiful. A story full of lessons. I really enjoyed it, and probably the most reliable source of information for anyone that wants to know how it's like to live as a Somali Muslim teenage girl in inner city London."

"My name is Safia Dirie. My family has always been my mum, Hoyo, and my two older brothers, Ahmed and Abdullahi. I don't really remember Somalia - I'm an East London girl, through and through. But now Abo, my father, is coming from Somalia to live with us, after 12 long years. How am I going to cope?"

Safia knows that there will be changes ahead but nothing has prepared her for the reality of dealing with Abo's cultural expectations, her favourite brother Ahmed's wild ways, and the temptation of her cousin Firdous’s party-girl lifestyle. Safia must come to terms with who she is – as a Muslim, as a teenager, as a poet, as a friend, but most of as a daughter to a father she has never known. Safia must find her own place in the world, so both father and daughter can start to build the relationship they both long for.

From Somalia With Love is one girl's quest to discover who she is – a story that, while rooted in Somali and Muslim life, strikes a chord with young people everywhere.

To find out more about the book or to preorder, please click HERE.