Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Nazneen Sheikh

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Ten Questions with Nazneen Sheikh

In her new book Moon over Marrakech (Cormorant Books), author Nazneen Sheikh writes about her spiritual connection to the city of Marrakech and its ability to carry her through two marriages. She talks with Open Book about her first experiences writing and which Canadian writers she most admires.

Open Book: Toronto :

When did you first start writing?

Nazneen Sheikh:

I started writing at the age of ten.


OBT:

What did you first write?

NS:

Little stories which could be acted out in plays with my siblings and friends in our garden. Always had some sort of adventure story with kings, queens and villains. I acted as mini playwright, and chose cast and directed.


OBT:

Where do you gather your inspiration from?

NS:

I gather my inspiration from life.



OBT:

Do you keep a journal or notebook?

NS:

I keep a journal sporadically.



OBT:

Do you spend much time revising your work?

NS:

Yes, I do. Most writers do that, as trembling in your boots and wondering if the writing is decent is part of the process.



OBT:

What Canadian writers do you admire? Why?

NS:

Atwood, Findley, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Matt Cohen, Leonard Cohen, Alice Munro, Yann Martel,Charles Foran, Richard Wright. The works of these authors have transported me to magical spaces and I remain in awe of their imagination and expressive talents.



OBT:

Do you usually work on one piece of writing at a time?

NS:

Yes I do. I always finish one book at a time.



OBT:

What are some of the problems you deal with often in your writing? Do you expect to deal with them in the future?

NS:

To me, each book is a challenge as I view myself as a stylist. I do not find problems writing my books. An event or a story enters my thoughts until it becomes an obsession. I then write it out. I never concern myself with trends. I follow my own drumbeat. I always expect that my books are worthy of being published. It is a peculiar confidence and has always carried me through.



OBT:

How did the city of Marrakech inspire you? What about the city made you to “develop a spiritual connection” with it?

NS:

The city of Marrakech seemed to resemble a page out of Arabian nights for me. It was exotic and had a complexity which I was drawn to. My spiritual connection came from many elements. In psychological terms it released some repressed childhood memories. There was a commonality in faith. The Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech fascinated me and I loved walking around it. Much later I discovered that it was built on the site of ancient booksellers! So a vast collective drew me to it, as I was also a writer.



OBT:

Finally, do you have any upcoming projects in mind?

NS:

I always have a new book in mind. However, I do not discuss it until I have written at least 70 pages and then I am certain it is a book.


Nazneen Sheikh has written several fiction and non-fiction titles for adult and young adult audiences, including Chopin People and Ice Bangles. Her culinary memoir, Tea and Pomegranates: A Memoir of Food, Family and Kashmir, won second place in the English and French special interest food and beverage book category from Cuisine Canada and the University of Guelph. Nazneen was born in Kashmir and went to school in Pakistan and Texas. She lives in Toronto.

For more information about Moon Over Marrakech please visit the Cormorant Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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