Our next featured writer is Rahala Begum, with her shortlisted book The Winning Ticket.
Rahala Begum was among ten writers shortlisted for the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices book award with her book The Winning Ticket, a story about 12-year-old Zaina who lives with her illiterate single mother and is deprived of her basic desires. When a life-changing opportunity comes to Zaina in the form of a lottery ticket, she faces a major set-back: her mother, for religious reasons, is against gambling and therefore will not accept the winnings. But Zaina is desperate and determined. She goes on a journey of anguish and uncertainties until she meets a stranger who shows her another obvious yet simple way to fulfil her needs.
Below we feature Rahala’s answers to a questionnaire produced by Seven Stories – the centre for children’s books.
Excerpt from The Winning Ticket…
I had escaped up here from the chaos downstairs, just to get a calm glimpse of this moment. Soon my eyes caught the sight of the black shrouded coffin, elegantly decorated in golden Arabic writing, being carried out the house. My father was in it. I didn’t know how to feel. My heart didn’t ache and my eyes were dry. He was my father but I didn’t know him. They had brought him into the house for people to pay their last respects, but I didn’t want to. He had been absent most of my life so how could I miss him?
What do you usually write about and who do you write for?
I have kept a personal diary of 11 years which I update with details of incidents, descriptions of emotions and information about my family. Also I scribble down ideas for stories.
Why do you write?
I remember as a child listening to my grandparents telling me stories from their childhood. It used to feel amazing to travel into their world. I get the same pleasure of experiencing a different world when I write.
Where and when do you write?
I stay up in my bed till late at nights when both my young children are asleep and I’m totally free from household chores.
What inspired you to enter the Diverse Voices Award?
There’s no fun in telling a story when there’s no audience so I felt this competition was an obvious ear eager to listen to me.
What was your favourite book as a child?
The Robber Hotzenplotz (by Otfried Preußler)
Who is your favourite children’s author either writing today or from the past?
There are so many good authors out there but Jacqueline Wilson has a unique style of entertaining.
What does the future hold for your writing and your book?
I’m already putting ideas together for my next novel, but before that I would like to publish my current novel which I’m continuously polishing up.
Thanks Rahala for sharing your inspirations and ideas: I look forward to reading your book!!