ABDA KHAN Writer ~ Speaker ~ Lawyer

8 May 2017


We are into May now, and much has happened since my last blog. I had another radio interview; I’m grateful to The Books Hour on The Lunchtime Show on BBC Radio Leeds for asking me to talk about my writing. Similarly I want to thank BBC Radio West Midlands for inviting me for an interview on the Midlands Masala show when I talked about my shortlisting for the Asian Woman of Achievement Awards. Aside from that, I was invited by the charity Muslim Hands to deliver an inspirational talk to female prisoners at HMP Peterborough as part of their Muslim Women in Prison Project. I have to say, what a fantastic audience. I talked about developing mental strength and they listened intently; there wasn’t enough time for all their questions, compliments and hugs at the end, and they left the Chapel reluctantly, and asked me to make sure that I come back!

My other very exciting news is that I have signed a contract with award-winning publisher Unbound to publish my next novel, Razia, through the crowdfunding model.


Why crowdfunding and not the traditional route? I hear you ask. My reasons for this are very simple.

My previous novel, Stained, was declined for publication in the UK, as although literary agents told me they liked the writing, it was not “mainstream” enough. However, it was published in the USA, and has been widely praised, and as a direct result of the novel and the issues it delves into, I am a finalist in the Nat West Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2017 in the Arts & Culture category.

Razia is about modern day and bonded slavery, as well as ‘honour violence’ and cultural issues. None of these topics are considered ‘mainstream’; therefore I would probably have the same problems again if I went down the traditional path. People tell me that they want to read stories with these kinds of themes, so I have chosen to go via the crowdfunding route because I want to put the power back into the hands of readers; it's up to you to decide if Razia deserves to be published. By pledging, you can pre-order an online copy, or a beautiful printed book (much nicer than the version that will be available in the shops), which you'll receive a lot sooner than it hits the high street, too. There are a number of other unique rewards you can also pledge for.

If you would like to help make Razia a reality, then please:

1. Visit the book's page at

Check out the short video and please do make a pledge if you can. It doesn't take long. Your name will be published in the back of the book.

2. Share the book link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, your own personal networks, and with anyone who you think might be interested in reading such a book – this really helps to spread the word to people who want to read this type of fiction.

At the time of writing, we are two weeks in and I have 37 supporters, and we have achieved 23% of the funding. But I need your help to spread the word further so we can achieve our goal.

If you want to discuss this further with me, then please drop me an email via the Contact Form.

Thank you so much.

 


 April 2017

Hello everyone! It’s that time again.

Much has happened since I last wrote; five radio interviews, one school talk, one university talk, two panel talks, and one show at the MAC Theatre, Birmingham.

International Women’s Day meant a very busy March for me.

My talk at the university related to creative writing, and my rather unconventional route to it, and I really enjoyed chatting to the lovely students about their hopes and aspirations as to where they wanted to take their writing once their studies were done.

My talk at the girls’ school was the inspirational type, in celebration of International Women’s Day/Week/Month. The girls were absolutely fantastic – they listened intently to every word I said (much more that my own kids do!) and the teachers were very welcoming.

I did a couple of panel appearances – on the themes of ‘Honour & Consent’ and at an Interfaith Dinner on ‘More in Common than Divides Us’. Both were great events with  great fellow speakers. I came away inspired and energised.

 ‘Voices of Experience’ at the MAC was just brilliant. Thank you to Sampad for organising it all, and thanks to the fellow writers/poets/artists who also took part. We were all chatting away long after it finished, and there was such a buzz; no one wanted to leave! I even ran out of books, which is always a good sign.

 I was back in my home town of Bradford for an IWD special radio show on BCB Radio, which was great fun, and I was next door in Leeds on the Breakfast show. Nearer to home, it was great to be invited on to the Rich Farmer show on Brum Radio to talk about Stained.

 I am beavering away on my next novel, which is shaping up nicely. I have some exciting news on that front; I will let you know the details very soon.

 Finally, I have had some wonderful news; I have been shortlisted for the Nat West Asian Women of Achievement Awards in the Arts & Culture category. I am so excited and honoured to be a finalist. I went down to London for my shortlisting interview, and I have to admit that my three judges were amazing. I felt completely at ease, and we just chatted away for twenty minutes. The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony in London on the 10 May. Win or Lose – I already feel like a Winner :)

 And here is a last thought, one that I left the girls with when I delivered my talk at their school, and these words of wisdom are ones we should all live by.

 “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.”
–Florence Nightingale

 

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FEBRUARY 2017


We are now past mid-February, and I thought it was time I put fingers to keyboard and posted on my blog.

I have had some great news since my last blog; I have been nominated for an IKWRO ‘True Honour’ Award. I am thrilled and humbled.

IKWRO (Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation) was founded in 2002, and its mission is to protect women and girls (especially from the Middle Eastern and Afghan communities) who are at risk of so called ‘honour’ based violence, forced/child marriage, FGM and domestic violence. It also aims to promote the rights of these women and girls. Just to be nominated amongst so many other women who do the most admirable job in this field is very satisfying.

I have some great events coming up in March, especially relating to the celebration of International Women’s Day. In particular, I am looking forward to an event that is being organised by SAMPAD at the MAC in Birmingham, on 12 March.

‘Voices of Experience’ will be a celebration of local writing, where I and other local writers will speak about and read from our works. I will openly discuss what inspired me to write about a novel that deals with rape and ‘honour’, and take part in a panel discussion. It promises to be a stimulating afternoon. If you are local to Birmingham (and even if you're not!), I would love to see you there. You can get details at http://sampad.org.uk/event/voices-of-experience/

I am delighted to say that I have finished the first draft of my next (as yet untitled) novel. I have now embarked on the second draft, and have some way to go, but I am definitely pleased with the plot and the ending. I now have to embellish, cut, add, develop fine tune and hone – again and again and again! I will continue to persevere.

 “I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.”

John D Rockefeller (1939-1937) American industrialist and philanthropist.

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JANUARY 2017


Welcome to my Blog!


We are now well into January and I thought I would add a blog feature to my website. I can't specify how often I will get round to blogging, for fear of not keeping to a promise, but I will try and do so as often as I am able to.


So, let me tell you what's been happening. 


On the job front, I still continue to work as a Solicitor at my high street firm. Things are pretty steady, and at the moment I am just busy enough, dealing mainly with Property, Divorce and of course the management, financial and professional compliance side of the Practice.


On a separate note, I have just finished my 9 week training course to enable me to volunteer at a local women's domestic violence and rape charity; the training was pretty intense, but very necessary. They are a wonderful organisation and I am looking forward to being part of the team to try and help women to escape violence and live free from the fear of violence.


Also, I am now in full swing with my voluntary mentoring as part of a small team of us who mentor 12 & 13 year old children at a local school, which I am finding so very rewarding. Many of the children are from deprived backgrounds and have complex personal/home and consequently schooling issues, and it is so heartening to see them engage and become more confident.


My promotion of and engagements about Stained, and the issues it raises, continue. I will be at two events in the near future that I would love to see you at (please click the 'events' tab for the details). I will be talking very candidly at these events as to why I wrote a novel that deals with such hard-hitting, and often taboo topics. 


And on the writing front - I am currently (still!) writing my next novel. Finding the time is a challenge, but I managed a fair amount of writing over Christmas, and I am now about three quarters through the first draft. I need to magic some time from somewhere! 


I have been thinking seriously about how to approach the publication of my second novel. Let's just say that literary agents and publishers are not all that interested in novels where the main characters are of Pakistani heritage and where the plot revolves around their lives and plight. People from the British publishing industry promised me to my face that they were interested in Stained and would "find me an agent" or "talk to a publisher" and that all I had to do was email them. So I emailed them, and guess what...I never heard from them again! What a strange world!


In the end Stained was published by Harvard Square Editions, and I will always be grateful, but having a small publisher based in the USA when I live in the UK is far from ideal. I was staggered that no one in the UK was interested when it has gone on to receive great reviews pretty much across the board (please click the "Testimonials" tab if you want to have a read of what the media and official book reviewers have said). 


When my second novel is ready,  then knowing what I do from my experiences, I don't know if I should go through the whole submissions process again, or if I should self-publish? Here is where I would value your opinion. What do you think?

Click the "Contact" tab above and drop me a line, and let me know your thoughts.


And in this world where we continually assess someone's success by their social media following or that celebrity book deal, I give you a last thought:

"Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value." –Albert Einstein


Thanks for reading.