Congratulations on the publication of your novel, SHOOTING KABUL. It's receiving terrific advance press. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?
SHOOTING KABUL was inspired in part by my husband’s experience fleeing Soviet controlled Afghanistan in 1979.
The story is about a boy, Fadi, who never imagines he’d start middle school in Fremont, California, thousands of miles away from home in Kabul. But, here he is, half a world apart from his missing six year old sister who’s been lost because of him, as they'd fled Afghanistan. Adjusting to life in the United States isn’t easy for Fadi’s family and as the events of September 11th unfold, the prospects of locating Mariam in a war torn Afghanistan seem slim -- impossible. Desperate, Fadi tries every hare-brained scheme he can think of to find her. When a photography competition with a grand prize trip to India is announced, Fadi sees his chance to return to Afghanistan and find his sister. But can one photo really bring Mariam home?
How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?
Gosh, I’ve been writing since the fifth grade, but got serious about it around five years ago. My first novel is a badly written fantasy, which is where I learned the craft of writing (it is lying in a box in my attic!) SHOOTING KABUL is my second book, the first to be published.
Can you describe your path to the publication of SHOOTING KABUL?
When I first got the idea for the book I wrote a synopsis for my agent, Michael Bourret, who liked the concept right away. I wrote it pretty quickly, in about 6 months. Michael suggested some edits and after completing those changes Michael submitted the novel to a group of editors. We were lucky to get a deal within three weeks after interest by multiple publishing houses. We chose to work with the clever and insightful Alexandra Penfold at Simon & Schuster.
Six months! Wow - I'm impressed. Do you have advice for beginning writers?
Dig within yourself and write what you know, you’ll surprise yourself! Really, don’t try to follow trends, write what you love, but look at your life, you’ll be surprised what unique knowledge, angle you have to write YOUR book.
Such great advice - and you've clearly followed it. Can you tell us something about your personal life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?
1. At age four I moved to Jubail, Saudi Arabia from San Francisco when my father, a civil engineer, was transferred for work. I lived there 10 years, made tons of friends, ate camel meatloaf, camped on the beach with my girl scout troop and had a blast.
2. I went to a boarding school in London, England, wore a navy, itchy blue uniform and was voted “Most Likely to Lead Literary Revolution” (Mostly because I was reading comic books and romance novels when I was supposed to be analyzing Anna Karenina, doing calculus problems and distilling compounds in chemistry.)
3. I love to cook and own over 300 cookbooks. Most of my favorites deal with dessert..(Sshhh... I have sweet tooth and a secret desire to become a pastry chef.)
4. I’ve sailed down the Nile, through Cairo, past the Pyramids, the Temple of Luxor and swam with barracudas in the red sea.
5. I am an Intellectual Property Consultant in Silicon Valley by day and help companies and inventors figure out what to do with their patents. A few of the technologies I’ve worked on are: hybrid cars, plastic packaging, car seat warmers, fireworks, cell phones, meat processing, MRI machines and robots.
Wow. What an amazing resume! Do you have any new writing ventures underway?
Yes, I have another idea for a middle grade of am working on with my editor, but it’s all top secret right now !
Do you have a website where readers can learn more about SHOOTING KABUL?