Shaila Abdullah is represented by the interviewer's Pump Up Your Book Promotion, a public relations agency specializing in online book promotion.
Shaila Abdullah is an award-winning author and designer, based in Austin, Texas. Her creative work focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of Pakistani women and their often unconventional choices in life. Her debut book, Beyond the Cayenne Wall, is a collection of stories about Pakistani women struggling to find their individualities despite the barriers imposed by society.
Among other accolades, the book won the Norumbega Jury Prize for Outstanding Fiction and the DIY Festival Award. Abdullah received a grant from the Hobson Foundation for her new novel, Saffron Dreams, which is about the trials and tribulations of a 9/11 Muslim widow.
Abdullah has written several short stories, articles, and personal essays for various publications, such as Dallas Child, Web Guru, About Families, Sulekha, Women's Own, She, Fashion Collection and a magazine of the Daily Dawn newspaper called Tuesday Review, etc. She is a member of the Texas Writers' League.
A Pakistani-American, Abdullah is also a seasoned print, web, and multimedia designer.
We interviewed Shaila to find out more about her new book, Saffron Dreams, and her life as a published author.
Thank you for this interview, Shaila. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
Thanks for the opportunity. I am an author and designer based in Austin, Texas. I am originally from Pakistan and moved to US in 1995. I spent five years in California and then moved to Texas in 2000. I have been writing on and off since 1993. In many ways I follow muse wherever it leads me, be it through creative writing or design. In 2005, I penned a short story collection called Beyond the Cayenne Wall and a novel this year called Saffron Dreams about a 9/11 Muslim widow.
Do you write full-time?
No, I don’t. I have a full time job as a designer for an educational nonprofit in Austin called SEDL.
At what point in your life did you make up your mind you were going to become a published author?
I think it was never a goal of mine but the hope of many around me. Growing up, my parents performed the role of gentle guides, nudging us in the direction we were inclined toward and then stepped back and watched us grow. They were never judgmental or overbearing and never gave up on us even as we stumbled, faltered, paused, gained momentum and eventually reached our goals. I wasn’t judged when amongst siblings with successful career paths such as doctors, MBAs, and valedictorian nurses, I proclaimed my decision of being a designer. With that writing became a cherished hobby.