Friday, October 14, 2011

Interview Friday with Debut Author Maha Huneidi

Maha Huneidi is a wife, mother and now grandmother, who finally found out what she wants to be when she grows up. This book is the first step of her journey. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
 Note from the Author: When I began writing this book, it was not about my granddaughter at all, but when I heard that she was afraid of monsters, it quickly became all about her. I wanted to empower her to take charge of her fear.

I sent my son a copy of "When Monsters Get Lonely" in a word file, with illustrations, just before I submitted it for publishing in April. Hanaa's parents immediately began reading it to her... Now, she sometimes tells her mother, "the monster touched my neck, but I made friends with him."

I think that Hanaa has found the courage to deal with her monster on her own now, and she still enjoys monster movies and monster stories!

VS: What do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?

Maha: At this time in my life, I can write to my heart’s content. My sons are grown men and we’re retired, so I have no schedule. I write whenever the muse strikes.

VS: How long have you been writing?

Maha: Other than writing for work, not long. I began to write my musings back in the 90’s and I never stopped. Writing exhilarates me. In 2000, I attempted to write a story about fear of the dark. I had no experience and I knew it wasn’t working so I put it on Word and saved it on a floppy disc. When floppies were being phased out I decided to save it on my computer. It stayed there till 2008 when I began to review and rewrite it again. I also began to practice writing on the web (there are websites that give writing assignments, and I did that for a little while). When I finally found an editor who could give me a critique, it was an education. I rewrote the story!

VS: What inspired you to write?

Maha: I just I like writing and I decided to turn my fear of the dark story into a children’s picture book. When my son told me that my granddaughter was afraid of monsters, but still insisted on watching her monster movies, the story took a twist. I decided that I wanted to give her a way to get over her fear of monsters.

VS: What is a typical writing day like for you?

Maha: I usually read my goals as soon as I wake up. They’re on the same folder as my writing in my computer. I’m supposed to meditate and do my yoga after I read my goals, but it takes me a while because I can’t help but look at the latest document I was working and I end up writing. In the end, I have to force myself to continue my morning routine.
If I have no errands I’ll start writing after breakfast, but sometimes I don’t get a chance to begin till the afternoon, and sometimes not till the evening. I continue writing on and off till late at night, and if ideas are flowing I won’t go to bed before 2 or 3 AM, but that doesn’t bother me because I get my best ideas at night. Sometimes I’ll be in bed and the ideas start flowing, so I get up and write. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I had little kids... old age has its perks.

VS: Is your family supportive of your writing?

Maha: Yes, my family is very supportive of my writing. They’re my first critics and they help me with proofing. They’ve been very encouraging of my writing.

VS: What was the first thing you ever had published?
Maha: “When Monsters Get Lonely” is my first book, but I have to two more in the working.

VS: Can you share with us a little about your current book, “When Monsters Get Lonely”?

Maha: “When Monsters Get Lonely” is about a little girl, Hannah, who’s afraid of the dark and of monsters. One night, during a blackout, her monster appears and she’s terrified; but her grandmother explains that her thoughts are like magic, they create her life.

VS: What do you enjoy most about writing?

Maha: I love it when an idea comes together, it’s so uplifting. Writing centers me, it’s like a meditation and I can lose myself in it. When I write I’m totally into it; I lose track of time and my surroundings, and I come out of it totally rejuvenated.

VS: What is the most difficult part of writing?

Maha: Editing and proofing are the most difficult parts of writing, and I don’t mean editing the story line because I’m doing that as I go along. What I mean is punctuation and all the technical stuff, but I leave all that to my editor in the end, except for the proofing, which I have to do myself. Of course, I don’t do it alone because you need more than one pair of eyes to see all the typos.

VS: What is the best writing advice you ever received?

Maha: Create your world and stick to its rules from the very start.

VS: Do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other job(s)?

Maha: Luckily, I’m retired and I can devote all my time to writing. I think I probably didn’t think of writing before because I couldn’t devote all my time to it. I really can’t imagine balancing between writing and something else. If I had to do something else, I wouldn’t be able to lose myself in my writing.

VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Maha: I have two more picture books. One is about crabs, and the other one is another Hannah book, but it’s not about monsters. This time it’s about whining.

VS: What tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them see publication?

Maha: Well, if they have kids I guess they’d have set a time, daily or whenever they can, for their writing and just write. Kids can be a great source of ideas if they’re writing kid’s books, they can use whatever ideas they get from the way the kids act, react, or talk. The main thing is to write daily if possible. Keep a journal; write their musings, etc…

VS: What do you think are the basic ingredients of a good book?

Maha: Good characters, a good setting, a conflict, the conflict resolution, and a moral or lesson learned… the characters grow.

VS: What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?

Maha: For me, the character was believable because I based it on my fear and my granddaughter’s fear, so I believed that she was afraid of monsters. I guess we base our characters on real people even if they’re not exactly the same as the real person, but we have to borrow from real life to make our characters believable. They must have feelings and their personalities must come through. In my book, Hannah was real to me, her fear was real, and she had the intelligence to understand what her grandmother said and find the solution to deal with her fear.

VS: Have you received any awards?

Maha: No yet, this is my first book.

VS: Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama or Dad”?

Maha: Well, it’s been a long time since my kids were little, so I’d like to share with the writing “Grandmama” if you don’t mind. I think it’s never too late to start a career, and if you like writing I encourage you to write and to publish your work. If you self publish make sure you get your work edited professionally. Self-publishing has made it easier to publish your own work, and many people my age and much older have self published their books and won awards.

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