Living Right with Author Laila Ibrahim
Today we have author Laila Ibrahim with us. Check out our interview where she talks about her inspirations as a writer, shares valuable advice, and lets us know what she’s working on next.
Laila Ibrahim is a well-known author of heartbreaking and redemptive stories of transcendent love.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was completely surprised when the characters for Yellow Crocus popped into my heart and head. I followed their lead and I’m now a full-time novelist. I live in a small co-housing community in Berkeley, California with my wife. Our young adult daughters are my greatest joy. I’m a devout Unitarian Universalist determined to plant seeds of love and justice in our hurting world. I love hearing from readers and calling/Skyping into book clubs.
When did you realize you were an author?
Probably two years after I self-published Yellow Crocus I realized that I was an actual author. I think I needed complete strangers to tell their friends about it.
Other authors who have influenced your work?
Alice Walker, Judy Blume, Harper Lee, Anna Quinlan, and Amy Tam to name a few. I was also inspired by J.K. Rowling’s story of getting the Harry Potter series into the world.
Tell us a bit about Yellow Crocus. What kind of readers will it appeal to?
I thought it would only appeal to mothers in book clubs, but some of my most cherished fan mail has come from men of all ages.
Both of my novels are just heartbreaking. It was very hard to write so many scenes in Living Right, especially before I got to the end and realized that Jenn would transform her own beliefs so that she could believe that Josh was ‘saved.’ The research about conversion therapy was so painful. I hadn’t realized before I did the research that many parents were told their child has same sex attractions because of poor parenting choices.
As a queer author yourself, how has queer representation in books changed over the years from your perspective?
There are so many more books that feature LGBT themes and characters. I love that I can find anything: mysteries, beach reads, picture books and serious literature that feature LGBT characters.
Any advice to writers who have just started?
Read lots of books about writing. Make sure you have a good story, not just beautiful sentences. Know that it will take hours and hours and hours and hours to write something well. You have to do your own marketing and PR regardless of how you are published. Know that you have something to say that no one else does. Being a successful writer is ultimately a paradox: you can’t make it perfect, but do your best to make it excellent and then let it go.
What are your thoughts regarding traditional and self-publishing?
Yellow Crocus was self-published and then picked up by Lake Union, an imprint of Amazon. It was also published by a traditional publisher in Norway. And Living Right is self-published. I can’t speak to being published in the US by a major primary retail publisher.
I really like the control I have being self-published. It was so nice to know that I had a great way to get both my books into the world. That said, I’ve signed a two book deal with Amazon for a sequel to Yellow Crocus and another historical fiction. I like them both.
Catherine Ryan Hyde wrote an excellent book about being an author in this day and age.
What is next for you?
I’m excited and scared to have signed the two book deal with Amazon. It means I need to write at a pace I never have before, but I know the stories will be getting out into the world. So, I’ll do my best to make them excellent and then let go.
Don’t forget to read our review of Living Right.
Have you read works by Laila Ibrahim? Let us know!
Farid has a Masters in Psychology and is the author of numerous books including Arousing the Legacy, Missing in Somerville, The Game Master of Somerville, and The Escaped Murderer of Somerville. He gives us insight on comics, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies. He reviews shows such as Gotham and Teen Wolf.