Author Interview: Farheen Khan of The Craft Souk

authorfarheenkhanI’m on a quest to reveal the mysteries behind the book publishing industry. Where better to find this info than from the experts themselves?  Join me on this journey while I interview multiple published Muslim authors and share their insight with you.

First in my Author Interview series is Children’s Author Farheen Khan, Author of Ibrahim Khan and the Mystery of the Roaring Lion and others.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a wife and homeschooling mom of three. My love of writing stems from my love for my children. I wish there were hundreds of writers out there all writing good, fun, moral books for my children to read!

I have many other passions including drawing, graphic design and crafting. My other passions have grown into a business of it’s own, called The Craft Souk. Which is really just a way to fund all my crazy brained ideas and give me the opportunity to hang with some really cool artisans and business owners, Alhamdullilah!

I see myself writing more and crafting less as I get older and my children get older. But truly Allah is the best of planners. I would never have imagined to be where I am today with my arts and crafts. So, I just brace myself for life’s next big adventure.. Bismillah.

What is the title of your first published book? What category does your book fit in?

Ibrahim Khan and the Mystery of the Roaring Lion. Early reader chapter book 8+

When did your love for books start?

I would have to say it started with my first born and seeing his love of books. We traveled a lot his first couple of years of life, so he didn’t have any toys, just a few Mercer Mayer books which I read to him over and over again. He, as well as his siblings have all been avid readers. Their passion to read, fuels my passion to write!

How old were you when you first thought “Hey, I think I want to write a book!”?

22, when I had my son, Ibrahim. My husband, son and I had traveled abroad to learn Arabic. My son was just a few months old at the time. Being a first time mom, I had only packed a handful of books for him. But as he grew and the pages of his books began to fall off, I decided to make him books. I found a small art shop by the university and bought some watercolour paper and paints. I painted him some number and letter books. He loved them! One line sticks in my head 16 years later, “Ten toes to wash between while doing wudu.” I remember feeling like the sentence sounded awkward, but he didn’t care! He loved the colourful pictures and that his name was weaved in throughout the book.

What was the inspiration/motivation behind your first book?

I wanted to put something out there that was a fun read, a mystery, an adventure, suspense, something kids would want to read, while making the main characters practicing Muslim children. I wanted something my kids would love to read and I’d love that they were reading it.

Did you use a traditional publishing house or self- publish? Why did you choose that route?

I used a traditional publishing house.

I just wanted to write! I knew going through a publishing house was the fastest and easiest way to get worldwide distribution. I am in constant amazement that something I wrote is all over the world being read by children from different backgrounds and cultures. It’s such an honor and privilege. The opportunity to write for children and help shape their minds, should not be taken lightly. I suppose I felt I wouldn’t have the same reach self-publishing.

Walk us through your own step by step process of writing/illustrating/publishing your book.

The writing was fun, well the first draft was anyway! I sent it off to two publishing houses. One said no, the other said yes. The grueling process of working with an editor was, well, grueling! It’s a necessary part of putting a polished piece out there, but it’s not easy. It pushes you to be better. Takes you way out of your comfort zone. But in the end it’s so worth it! It’s a real blessing to have a great editor. On the flip side, a not so great editor will bring your story down, muddy up your message and interfere with good flow. So you need to be able to step back from the process and figure out what’s actually making your story better and what’s making it worse. Once your editor loves it.. you’re done! The publishers take care of illustration, formatting etc.

Did you have a business plan set up prior to starting on the book or did you just go with the flow?

No plans.. didn’t really think it would go anywhere. I just make an intention and left it to Allah.

How long did it take till you started seeing some profits?

Traditional publishers will give you an advance as soon as your editor is happy with the final draft.

What are your books’ measurements, is there a reason why you chose that size?

The size, layout and look was the publisher’s decision. Though I had input. Since my books are chapter books, they are the standard size of most chapter books.

Hardcover or paperback?

Paperback, their decision. Makes the book cheaper and available to more people.

If a kid walked up to asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?

If you love to write, write! No one thinks they are good enough when they start off. Most don’t think their good enough even after having a couple of books published. Keep working, keep getting better. Write a lot, and read a lot.

So in a nutshell, what priorities should an aspiring author (like myself) keep in mind while planning their book?

Make an intention. Know why you’re writing and who you’re writing for. Always go back to that intention. It’ll keep you grounded. If you’re writing for five year olds, spend some time with five year olds. Play make believe. Read to them. Have them tell you a story. Get inside their heads.

Thank you so much for your time! Is there anything else you would like to add?

Don’t become a writer to make money. There are lots of other less painful and more lucrative ways to make money, seriously! Write for a higher purpose. Know, it’s a privilege and a responsibility. Our words will likely be around long after we’re gone.

Find Farheen on Social Media:

You can find her books at your local bookstore on Amazon, Chapters and Barnes & Noble.

Samantha Salem

Samantha Salem

Samantha Salem is a Mom of three little kiddos. Born in New Jersey, raised in Gaza, Palestine. She craves creativity and hates laundry with a passion. Has a dusty blog full of Arabic/Middle Eastern Recipes, kid related crafts and much more. Jack of all trades, master of none! Way too many hobbies to list, with doodling being her latest obsession.
Join her on her rollercoaster ride of a life, while balancing life as a mom and running home based businesses.
Samantha Salem

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