Welcome back to another interview under my Unapologetically Muslim project! Today I’m welcoming a wonderful middle grade and children’s books author, Aamna Qureshi! Her book, The Lady or the Lion, has been praised so much and I’m literally so excited to read it this year. Read on to find out more about Aamna Qureshi!
- Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! I want to start by welcoming you to the blog, I’m so happy to have you here today. The first question I would like to ask is, what inspires you to write your stories?
Thank you so much for having me! Truly, I am inspired by my everyday interactions with life. I love to observe the world and the people around me. Life is filled with so many poignant moments, filled with so many incandescent emotions, and I am endlessly inspired by the seemingly mundane. Everything is richly beautiful and painful, and I try to harness that in my writing.
- I also want to ask about representation, how important was it for you to bring Muslim rep to the forefront? To have unapologetically Muslim protagonists in your book?
It was very important to me! Being Muslim is so entwined in my identity, and my writing is very much mined from my heart, so at first, I was simply writing what felt natural to me. Then, I realized I really wanted Muslims to feel represented and seen by my book, but in a very subtle, casual way, where it doesn’t seem forced. I hope I was able to accomplish that.
- Do you have any advice that you would like to pass on to Muslim writers?
Keep going! Write the stories you want to write and the stories you want to read. There’s a lot of noise out there, especially on social media, but just focus on what you feel is authentic. These are our stories, after all.
- What do you hope your readers will take away from your books?
I have always loved reading, and writing came from wanting to replicate the pure happiness I felt after reading a good book, so I hope readers are able to feel that same delicious (sometimes painful) joy after reading my book, as well. For my Pakistani, Muslim, and South-Asian readers, I hope you felt seen. For me, representation has always felt like a confirmation of my existence. I know how special it was for me to write this story, so I only hope it is just as special for people to read it.
- Not exactly a book related question, but how have Ramadan preparations been for you? Do you have any favourite traditions and dishes during this month?
Ramadan has been going well alhamdulillah! I think my best Ramadan tip is to write out a dua list and go back to it every year — you’ll be amazed at how many things get crossed off! As to a favorite tradition, I love decorating my house with an exorbitant amount of lights, and I love going to the masjid every night with my family for taraweh prayer! Food-wise, I have to say my favorite dish is pakoray. My family literally riots if I don’t make them for even one night, and they’re just so good. A Ramadan must.
Please make sure you check out Aamna Qureshi’s amazing book!
(Click on the image to be directed to the Goodreads page)
About the Author
Aamna Qureshi is a Pakistani, Muslim American who adores words. She grew up on Long Island, New York, in a very loud household, surrounded by English (for school), Urdu (for conversation), and Punjabi (for emotion). Much of her childhood was spent being grounded for reading past her bed-time, writing stories in the backs of her notebooks, and being scolded by teachers for passing chapters under the tables. Through her writing, she wishes to inspire a love for the beautiful country and rich culture that informed much of her identity.
She attended Stony Brook University, where she received a Bachelors of Science in Applied Math and Statistics that taught her to solve problems, to think outside the box, and to recognize nuance, all things that come in handy when drafting a novel.
When she’s not writing, she loves to travel to new places where she can explore different cultures or to Pakistan where she can revitalize her roots. She also loves baking complicated desserts, drinking fancy teas and coffees, watching sappy rom-coms, and going for walks about the estate (her backyard). She currently lives in New York. Look for her on IG @aamna_qureshi and Twitter @aamnaqureshi_ and at her website aamnaqureshi.com.