As I write this, Europe is in the middle of a heatwave and most of the northern hemisphere are wrapped up in summer activities. I am thrilled to introduce you to Marzieh A. Ali, a picture author who has her first series of chapter books (6 books in total), Nadia & Nadir, launching 1st August 2022. Let's find out more about this interesting series which will give us insight into Pakistani culture and customs.
Tell us about your new books.
The main characters in my chapter book series are Nadia and Nadir. They are a pair of young Muslim-American siblings living in Houston, Texas, with their mom and dad. Like all kids, they enjoy staying busy. Nadia and Nadir are quick to make learning fun in their day-to-day lives.
The books have Urdu words and Pakistani customs interwoven into the text.
It’s been an absolute joy writing about my culture and exploring this format which is so different from my picture book sweet spot!
What inspired you when working on this project?
My nephews, Asad and Ammar, and my kids, Hamza and Aaliyeh, are the main inspiration for this project. Even though the stories are fictional, they are contemporary stories and I did a lot of research and tested out some activities mentioned in the books with my own kids. Their questions during these play-based-learning sessions gave me ideas for dialogue that I incorporated into the books.
Talk to us about the creative process for these books.
It was tough to deliver a manuscript a month and work on revisions for the manuscript completed the previous month, but the team at ABDO was amazing in guiding me and helping to bring the stories to life. Seeing Lala’s illustrations and being involved in getting them just right was a great incentive to keep going.
Did you encounter anything unexpected while working on this project?
I was so glad to see the amount of thought my editors and art director put into the characters in this series. They were careful that they got everything culturally correct, from the clothing to head-coverings. They checked to see if they were depicting religious holidays correctly in the illustrations and kept me involved in many of the decisions that authors are often excluded from.
Now for something completely different! Which do you prefer: creamy ice cream flavors such as pistachios and chocolate or fruity ice cream flavors such as lemon sorbet? Why?
Always fruity! Because they have the perfect balance of tart and sweet flavors.
Thank you Marzieh for sharing your creative journey with us. It's heart-warming to hear about the care your editors and art directors took in making sure that everything was culturally correct. We wish you and NADIA & NADIR every success.
Bio: Marzieh A. Ali
Marzieh is a baker-turned-author. She loves adding magic to her creations, whether they’re seven-layered rainbow cakes or the books she writes for children all over the world. Her work is inspired by her Pakistani culture and Muslim heritage. She is the author of the chapter book series: NADIA & NADIR.
Her upcoming picture books are:
• A DUPATTA IS... (Feiwel & Friends, 2023)
• HENNA IS... (Feiwel & Friends, 2024)
• AWE-SAMOSAS! (Clarion, 2024).
Marzieh is a graduate of the Children’s Book Academy and the Lyrical Language Lab. She also enjoys classes at the Writer’s Loft, The Writing Barn and Storyteller Academy and is a member of the 12x12 picture book challenge. Marzieh loves learning new skills, jumping rope, sipping chai, and observing nature. She dreams of owning a talking parrot someday. But until then, she lives in Pakistan with her husband and children who inspire her daily. She occasionally writes under the name: Marzieh A. Ali.
She blogs about her writing journey and life in Pakistan at @marziehabbas_author and www.marziehabbas.com
This is the blog for the International Central Region of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). You can learn more about SCBWI here and about the International Central Region here.