Q&A with Leila Rasheed

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Birmingham based Leila, author of the Bathsheba Clarice de Trop book series, spared us a few moments and gave herself a breather from preparing for the Stratford Literary Festival, running 25th April to 3rd May. As well as appearing at the festival, Leila was also asked to write a young adult novel based around Stratford being published just in time for the start of the festival. In Leila’s words ‘The cover has been created by a local art student, and is really impressive. The book is called The World Turned Upside Down and it’s the story of what happens when two time periods and four characters – two from 1642, in the English Civil War, and two from 2042, when a new civil war is taking place – meet.’ It’s out 19th April and you can order now from Amazon – it’s in our book shop ready for you!

Onto our questions:

Who was your favourite author when you were young and who is your favourite current author?
I have lots of favourite authors, and did when I was a child too, so it’s very hard to pick just one. J R R Tolkien is a real favourite of mine. I also love anything by Alan Garner, especially The Owl Service. Of more contemporary authors, I’ve really enjoyed books by David Calcutt, Sally Prue and Livi Michael. But if you asked me tomorrow, I’m sure the list would be different.
How do you think up your characters and storylines?
That’s another difficult one to answer. I suppose the thing is that I’m always on the look-out for story ideas, and once you ‘tune your radar’ to them in that way, they seem to come naturally. I usually find it quite easy to come up with a character in a situation, and a voice in which the story’s told. The hard part is developing and sustaining the story over 40,000 words.
How did you get into writing?
Through reading. I used to read as much as I could, but I didn’t have as many books as I wanted, so I started writing my own stories down so I could read them back later. I think all writers start out as avid readers.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I don’t really have much spare time! Like other self-employed people, I end up working an awful lot. But I do travel a lot; I like seeing new places. I’m also planning some writing workshops, especially for people who want to write children’s books – the first one’s already set for 19th June, at the Kitchen Garden Café in Kings Heath – and that takes lots of organizing and planning. And I’ve just started a blog, also aimed at people who are interested in reading or writing children’s books, on my brand new website: www.thewritingden.webs.com.

You can find out more about Leila at www.leilarasheed.com.

We said we would let you know our next ‘book of the month’ titles in enough time for you to pick one and grab a copy, so here they are for May – ‘Chips, Beans and Limousines’ by Leila Rasheed, ‘Granny’ by Anthony Horowitz and ‘Fallen’ by Lauren Kate. They’ve been added to our book shop now and we’ll bring you more details on each one at the start of May.
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