The Next Big Thing Blog Trail

The Next Big Thing  is a blog chain for writers and artists linking together and talking about their current projects. It gives you a chance to discover new writers and blogs but also brings together writers across different genres. Each creator is required to answer a set series of questions and then pass the baton to someone else.

I've been invited by Writer Cecily Thew Paterson to take part in The Next Big Thing blog trail  talking about a new release. Here is some information about Shahana: Through My Eyes.

1 What is the working title of your next book

Shahana, Through My Eyes.


  1. Where did the idea come from for the book?

    For ten years I worked as an aid worker in the Middle East and most of that time was spent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Northern Pakistan. We lived in Abbottabad close to Azad Kashmir, but we were not allowed to cross the border. It wasn't until 2006 when I was on an Asialink Writing Fellowship in northern Pakistan, and the Azad Kashmir border opened for aid workers helping with the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake, that I was able to visit Muzaffarrabad. There was a huge amount of damage, but I could see it had once been a beautiful place. Not only the earthquake but skirmishes along the Line of Control (the border between Azad Kashmir and Jammu & Kashmir) affect children living there.


  1. What genre does your book fall under?

Genre: Realism;

Field of writing: Young Adult (lower age range, 11-14 yrs or Middle School).


  1. What actors would you choose to play the parts of your characters in a movie rendition?

Hrithick Roshan, Bollywood actor with the green eyes, would be good as Amaan, the militant; A young Amir Khan would be fine as Zahid; and Shahana? I think Freida Pinto from “Slumdog Millionaire” would fit the bill. (Maybe if she was a bit younger). Alia Bhatt would be good too. She's young enough at least.


  1. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Shahana's story shows how orphans suffer and survive in the shadow of the Line of Control; set in Azad Kashmir. 


  1. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

    It will be represented by an agent (Jacinta di-Mase) and published by Allen     & Unwin in June. 


  1. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

      Six months.


  1. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The next four books in the series:

Amina by JL Powers set in Somalia

Naveed by John Heffernan set in Afghanistan

Emilio by Sophie Masson set in Mexico.


Chalkline by Jane Mitchell.

Where the Streets had a name by Randa Abdel-Fateh

The Ink Bridge by Neil Grant

No Safe Place and Children of War by Deborah Ellis


  1. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

When I was asked to consider writing about children in a war zone by my agent and series editor, Lyn White, I realised I wanted to tell these children's stories, albeit fictitiously, so that other young people in peaceful countries like Australia can understand and care. And maybe, as Ayesha in Shahana says, knowing these stories can help.


  1. What else about the book might pique a reader's interest?

True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.

It is love that will save our world and our civilisation, love even for enemies.

Martin Luther King Jr

There are too many barriers to peace in Shahana's life – she shouldn't let Zahid live in her one roomed house, nor should she talk to a militant even if he is missing his sister. And then there is the Line of Control, the biggest reminder and barrier of all, dividing a nation. She has lost too many people in the conflict and she doesn't like to remember. How can she make the right choices? Is it true, as the militant says, she is just surviving the best way she can? Shahana is faced with the biggest decision of her life but how do you choose which is the lesser of two evils?


Next week on Wednesday 13 February 2013, award winning children's author, Janeen Brian will share about her new historical novel set in Cornish Australia, That Boy Jack.