Author Nabila Sharma talks about how her book – based on her own true story – was picked up by the first literary agent she approached and she then went on to gain a deal with publishing giant, HarperCollins…
BY NABILA SHARMA
Name, age and area where you live in the UK
Nabila Sharma, 37 years old, Midlands.
Book name, publication date, who book is published by?
Brutal By Nabila Sharma Published By HarperCollins UK and Ireland 26th April 2012, Australia June 1st 2012, Canada June 25th 2012.
Is this your first book? If not, how many other books have you published?
This is my first book but I’m hoping to write a second follow up one.
What is the book about? If you have published other books, is this in a similar style or something different?
The book is about the sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of someone in a position of trust within Muslim community but I didn’t feel I could tell anyone what was happening. Muslims have to fear for their lives if they ever speak out like I have done here. I have had to do the book under a false name to protect myself and my family.
When did you start writing/what gave you the idea to write a book?
Over the past few years I have always read other abuse victim books to give me some hope that I was not alone out there. Each and every book gave me hope and courage that there was a happy ending to be found.
I searched for a long time to find a book that told a similar story to what I went through but never found anything.
I was encouraged to do this book so that I could tell others that they are not alone and to speak out.
It took me many years to to be able to speak about what had happened. I went to see a counsellor and then finally decided (after searching in vain for a similar story) to write my own story.
How long did it take to write?
It took a long 12 months from start to finish. It was extremely hard talking about it and I worked with a ghost writer to help my grammar. It was tough reliving everything that I had buried and put behind me but actually the book helped me come to terms with what had happened.
If it’s a personal book about you, how did you feel about that? Did you set out to write an personal book or did things just turn out that way? Were friends and family surprised or shocked to read it at first?
I have always thought about writing a book but didn’t have any idea of how to go about it. With the encouragement and support from my partner who got the ball rolling I finally did it and when HarperCollins wanted it I was thrilled that finally people will be able to get some help and see they are not alone if they are going through this.
I needed particularly to get the Asian community to know that these things go on and rather than hush things up, to acknowledge it and to do something about it. I have four brothers but even now only one of my brothers knows what happened to me.
How did you get published? Did you approach a literary agent first or go directly to a publisher?
I wrote to one literary agent and she accepted straight away and she contacted HarperCollins who again took it straight away. I was incredibly lucky.
Was it hard to get published?
No it was not difficult and I was fortunate that once HarperCollins took the book they took care of it all. It already has five foreign rights deals so Brutal will be translated into at least five languages. Currently it is contracted to go to Estonia, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Poland and France. I’m told there are more deals to come.
Where your book is on sale? –
www.whsmith.co.uk and all supermarkets such as Tesco online, Asda and Morrisons. It is also available at bookshops such as Waterstones.
Any advice for other book writers?
If you have a story to tell then just tell it. If no-one wants to publish it then just self publish it. Once it’s in book form, then you have something substantial to show people to get them to listen.
No one had written a book like mine before and I am very proud to have done this and to get the message out that this kind of abuse goes on in the Asian community and needs to stop.
I did the book to educate the Asian community that you must listen and do something. I hope it will make a difference to someone else’s life.
Abuse in the Muslim community is rarely, if ever, talked about and is hushed up. There is a story here about physical and sexual abuse but all the TV shows and the book shops have been so far been scared to talk about it as to not upset the UK Muslim community. It seems it’s okay for these things to happen so long as it’s not talked about. Well it should be talked about so that something can be done about it.
We came to live in the UK so we should abide by UK rules.
* Now an independent woman, Nabila currently works to bring similar hidden crimes to light and help others going through the same.
* Photo posed by model.
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