Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to bring you a special author interview, but before we get to that, here's writing tips from other authors we've interviewed.
Write as often as possible and release at least one title a year. Raymond Bean, children's author of Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire
Don’t give up, even if publishers or agents reject you. Write what you want to write and not what you think would sell. Don’t self-proof read. Get someone you trust to it for you. It is too easy to miss mistakes when reviewing your own work. Consider self-publishing. These days there is a lot of support and free marketing out here to resource. Use online media platforms to promote yourself. Converse with other authors, share books and reviews and get yourself noticed. Do book readings and signings if you can. It’s a great way to actually meet readers who might enjoy your work. Nicola J. McDonagh, YA author of Echoes From the Lost Ones.
Whilst writing I’ve learnt that I have to be self-critical and be prepared to edit and edit and edit. I read it out loud, just as if I was reading it to an audience – or a class. And I ask other people to read and criticise it. BUT I take heart from praise because we all need that! Rosie Morgan, MG author of The Golden Sword.
Please welcome Children's author Sheikha Shamma
to Carpinello's Writing Pages.
Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and published author, Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan is the great-granddaughter of the UAE’s founding father, His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
A graduate of the University of Cambridge, holding a Masters degree in Sustainability Leadership, Sheikha Shamma is a well-respected industry expert on sustainability, thanks to her business and academic endeavours in the field.
Her charitable foundation, Circle of Hope, has spearheaded a substantial number of local and international initiatives; these include Wanna Read? which has placed over 7,000 books for young patients in hospitals across the UAE; Beacon of Hope which has supplied thousands of children in developing countries with an important solar-light resource and which was recognised at the 2018 United Nations Solutions Summit; and MorEquity (formerly the Women’s Empowerment and Equality Board), created to promote gender equality in the workplace and the boardroom. The initiative comprises of over 150 women from the UAE’s largest organisations who meet regularly for workshops and collaborate on community projects driving change.
In addition to her children’s book, Skeikha Shamma is a regular columnist for The National newspaper and has coauthored two articles published in Future Governments – Actions and Insights.
Why did you decide to write books for Children?
I had always felt that the character in my book, my dog Coustaud, would make a fun character in a children’s book. He reminds me of Garfield. He is a fun and humorous character, and it is very funny how he snores so loudly, grunts softly and sits sloppily. I wanted to share the happiness and fun that he brought to people who knew him.
What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?
I enjoy reading a wide variety of books. I prefer non-fiction, and I stay away from science fiction.
As for what I do when I’m not writing, where do I start? There are not enough hours in the day! I have a sustainability-oriented company, and I work in the office most days, but I also have a charitable foundation – Circle of Hope Foundation – that works to improve the lives of women and children. I like spending time outdoors in nature and reconnecting with the world around me. In this day and age, when we are all very dependent on our electronic devices, we need time away from them to enjoy the many wonders of Planet Earth.
Tell us about The Tangled Tale and how the story came to be.
The Tangled Tale is my third book in the series The Adventures of Maxima and Coustaud. This children’s series focuses on morals, values, and current issues to help encourage ethical behaviour. The stories aim to promote a love of reading via engagement with the central characters, a magical horse, Maxima, and her funny companion, a French bulldog called Coustaud.
Here's a peek at The Tangled Tale:
Maxima and Coustaud must save a dragon that is tangled in a mangrove forest. The Tangled Tale teaches children about how interdependent and connected we all are and about the importance of mangrove forests and bees. I believe that systems thinking is an important skill for children to develop.
It will be released next month (November 2020).
How do you go about researching for your stories?
My latest stories are sustainability-focused, a topic that I am passionate about, and an area that I am privileged to be working in. I try and simplify concepts for children, raising awareness while empowering children to be conscious of their decision-making. We all have a role to play to protect our planet for future generations.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
I have written two other books within the series The Adventures of Maxima and Coustaud. The first story, The Lost Princess, is about a princess who ends up in the hands of a wicked witch. I thought the witch would be very scary for children, but I have realised that they love her. The second book, In Search of a Global Solution, is about people working together to tackle one of the world’s biggest threats to humanity’s existence – climate change.
I have also written a stand-alone story – The Colour Thief. It is a cute story about two Jack Russells and a young boy called Zak, who go on an adventure. Imagine a world where all the colours disappear – what a sad place it would be. I hope children who read this book will take a closer look at the world around them and appreciate the many things we take for granted.
This year, I even wrote a short story to help children understand coronavirus called “Corona – The Story of a Virus that Stopped the World.” The short story is available for download on the following website http://wannaread.ae/ebooks/.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
My latest project is a book for young adults, which is set in Cambridge where I studied for my Masters. I have fond memories of the beautiful and historic university town which often reminds me of Hogwarts. So I thought, why not create a story that takes place in Cambridge and bring in my love for the environment, innovation and discovery.
What advice do you have for other authors?
Do not let yourself be overwhelmed by all the books around you. Never compare yourself to other writers because you have a unique voice and a unique story to tell.
Anything else you want readers to know?
There is a whole world out there and many other galaxies to be explored, so never stop learning! Inspiration can be found in unlikely places – like in a type of book that you would not usually choose or by speaking to someone from a different country or ethnic group. So read a variety of books, explore different genres and make the effort to talk to people that you would not normally speak to. We live in a world filled with countless fascinating stories just waiting to be discovered.
Where can readers find you and your books?