Recently, I visited the library at John F. Kennedy in Paterson, NJ.
I graduated from JFK in 2004, but I have kept in touch with two of my old teachers, Mrs. Nye (Journalism) and Mr. Mossler (AP English), both of whom I acknowledged in 'So Complicated.' I also meet them at least once every time I return to the USA.
I initially wanted to talk about the world of publishing. However, my teachers (I feel like they still are today), told me to just talk about myself, experiences and my accolades. I was afraid of seeming conceited to the current students in the audience.
However, I found out later that the students 'loved' my powerpoint resentation, according to Mrs. Nye, who I know is an honest person.
So, I began talking about my experiences and involvement while I attended high shool, then university, then the career world and my residency abroad (London to Stockholm). The most exciting part for the current students (about 50 to 60) in the audience, was perhaps the Q&A session. See the following selection:
1. How many languages do you speak? English, Swedish and Bengali. I plan on learning Arabic though because I can recite Quran in Arabic, but I always have to read the translation in English afterwards. There is a growing community in Sweden and knowledge of the Arabic language is becoming a necessity.
2. What sparked your interest in writing? My teachers made me write and I realized I loved it.
3. Would you ever move back to America? I had no idea I was going to move to London or Stockholm so who knows where fate will take me!
4. What made you become a writer (author)? A writer is an author, but there is an obvious difference between an author and a published author.
5. What is it like being a journalist? It is exciting. I get to interview so many interesting personalities!
6. Do you find it hard to get motivated to write? What do you do when you have writer's block? When I have writer's block, I usually look for inspiration (ie. take a walk outside or read the news). The best advice I give you, though, is to just sit down in front of a blank piece of paper and write jibberish, complete nonsense, whatever pops into your head until you hit an idea.
7. How do you have time to find sleep? I don't. I never sleep. Okay, just kidding. I do sleep, but you will find, as you grow older and maybe have a family like myself, it's hard. I have a 9 month old.
8. Was it difficult learning Swedish? If you are learning a new language, the best possible thing you can do is to compare it to your own. For example, in Swedish, ananas means pine apple and in Bengali, we say anarosh. There is a similarity between 'ananas' and 'anarosh.'
9. Where do you suggest a person who wants to become a writer, start from? Right now! Write...right now! This school is your platform, it is the best preparation you can get.
10. Where did you get your idea for your second book? My own social media experience. I like to consider myself a 'feminist' and an active blogger, facebooker and Twitterer. I felt it was about time that someone wrote about our time! '1984' was about the future, but 'So Complicated' is about NOW.
11. As a Muslim, did you experience prejudice in your profession(s)? Personally, no. I have worked in publishing and I have never see the publishing world discriminate. In fact, there already a lot of Muslim authors out there for example, Khaled Husseini, Sufiya Ahmed, Sagheer Afzal & Shelina Janmohamed.
12. Do you plan on writing another book? Yes, I have written the first draft and it will probably take me another year or two or three, to tweak it.
13. How long did it take you to write your book? A month of two. It's the editing that takes time so you should write about something you love or are very passionate about because you will reading it over and over and over again until you think it will do.
14. What were some challenges you had to overcome in high school? Time management. Every school should give out planners.
15. How do you get your ideas? You get your ideas from within you. You write what you are familiar with (your surroundings, the personalities that ar around you) and something you care about.
16. Who was the person that inspired you? My teachers as are acknowledged in my book and my brother who, despite having DMD, always has a positive attitude. Appreciate your teachers because you do not realize it now, but a year, two, or more down the lane, you will think about how much they have prepared you for the 'real world.'
17. Besides Sweden and UK, have you visited other countries? I have done Hajj, the holy pilgrimage, twice (at age 10 and second time, while 4 months pregnant with my first child). Thanks be to God, all went well. I also went to Rome once and Paris twice. Also, I was born in Bangladesh, but grew up in the Bronx, NY and Paterson, NJ. I visited Bangladesh four times since then. I have also been to Canada, many times.
This comment made me giggle: 'Your presentation was so elaborate that I don't have any questions. I really enjoyed it.'