Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Story Behind the Story of Laila by Shirin Shamsi

 When my children were young, I made up stories for them. I illustrated and laminated them, and we would read them together. It meant a lot to me, as I felt they saw themselves represented in my stories. One day my eldest daughter asked if I would write a chapter book for her.

That is when the idea for LAILA AND THE SANDS OF TIME first came to me. It was of course a completely different story from the published book. In the original story, Laila was a happy and contented child, and both her parents were alive. 

The problem was, there was no problem for Laila and no story arc. But I loved the character of Laila. It was like she became my fourth child and every so often I would return to the story and write a little. Years passed. Each time I worked on Laila; the story took a different direction. I was not fully focused on the story, but always knew I would return to it. For being a writer was a dream I had and never lost sight of.

Years passed. My children grew up. When my youngest went off to college, I decided it was time to get serious about writing. I joined SCBWI and began attending events and learning more about the craft of writing – discovering how clueless I had been!

When I immersed myself in Laila’s world, a strange thing happened. I began having these ideas for where the story was heading. It was almost as if Laila was leading the story and I was listening. There were even some conversations that just came to me in the middle of the night. At times I woke up with a whole scene in my head and would run to grab a pen and paper. 

I can’t say that inspiration happened all the time, but when it happened it was the most exhilarating experience. I felt in awe. It was also humbling. almost like I were the vessel delivering the story. I listened and wrote. 

When LAILA AND THE SANDS OF TIME was completed, I wept. It really felt like a piece of me was in that story. 

When Callie Metler of Clear Fork Publishing requested the full manuscript, it was a dream come true for me – it had taken years of persistence, patience and perseverance, but it was time to share LAILA AND THE SANDS OF TIME with the world.

I am continually blown away when people tell me how moved they are upon reading my book. It is something I could never grow accustomed too.

I’m thrilled that I have two picture books in the works with Clear Fork Publishing. I am also working on another Middle Grade novel and a series of Chapter Books. I feel so blessed and honored to be writing for the most important people in the world – children! I hope that my books may resonate with readers. I hope they inspire empathy and expand the vision of their world. 

Get your hardcover or paperback edition copy of Laila and the Sands of Time HERE.

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