Interview with author, Laila Ibrahim part #2

Q. What first inspired you to write? (con’t.)

LI. …… I thought to myself, of course, he does. She was his primary attachment figure. Our self-identity if formed by those early attachments. And in a flash, I thought of Lisbeth in Mattie’s arms. I wondered what it would be like for her to love this woman like a mother and then be expected to reject Mattie’s humanity to take her place in society. Then I wondered what it would be like for Mattie to have to leave her child to care for another baby. Finally, I wondered about Anne. I thought Anne would be a bigger presence when I started the novel.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

LI. The characters.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

LI. Absolutely. Sometimes I feel like I am dreaming out loud as a write. I feel and see a scene and then my job is to describe it.

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

Playing in the snow

LI. I feel like I was given the story of these women and I’m just going from there. Part of what I am working on is understanding how we got to this moment in time, given the history of our nation and world. I think about the caste system baked into the constitution of the United States that gave wealthy, white, Christian able-bodied straight men the most rights—and yet the  founders wrote a document that would one day include me as a citizen. I’m grateful to all the people who came before me who worked so that I could have the rights that I do. I don’t take my freedom for granted in any way.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

LI. Cherry Blossoms in set in Oakland and Berkley between 1941 and 1946. Kay Lynn is a young woman with two children whose life is torn apart by World War 2. It is expected to be released in May 2023.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

Wedding Party

LI. For my 40th birthday I challenged myself to start writing Yellow Crocus after the story had haunted me for 7 years. Five years later I self published it. It got picked up by Lake Union of Amazon Publishing in 2014 and I haven’t looked back. I’ve published five books since then with the sixth expected out in May 2023,

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

LI. Not in my lifetime—too many people my age love to turn actual pages. Maybe in my children’s life time. Or my grandchildren’s.

Q. What makes a writer great?

LI. I don’t know that I am qualified to answer this in a general way. I know many people for whom the language or poetry of writing is what makes you a great writer. I like writing that makes me feel something and learn more about the human condition. For that reason I like writers who are both honest and vulnerable.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

LI. I start with knowing my main character(s) and a general time frame. Then I read the newspapers from that time until I find historical

events which give me momentum for a plot. I meditate on the characters, family members and the society and an outline starts to fall into place. I do a solid outline and from there I write. Ideally I have a contract for a book or two from the outline. I notice that most of the time I stick to the outline for the first ⅔ and return to it for the ending. But towards the ending it changes depending on what I’ve actually written. My first drafts are more like a screen play than a book. It’s lots of dialogue. For later drafts I layer in setting and reflection.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

LI. My values and education show up in my stories. I’m called to write about the details of mothering in difficult situations.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

LI. I love my evenings when I watch tv with my wife. Hazel goes between us on the couches and I work on a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a very relaxing way to end my day. I enjoy gardening and walking with friends in the afternoons. We attend the Unitarian Church on most Sundays.


Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?

LI. Picture books are compelling to me. I was a preschool teacher/early childhood educator for decades. I thought of several stories then and sometimes I wonder about getting them onto the page.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

LI. Not only is it okay to make mistakes, it is an important part of learning and being a conscious being. I want to grow and learn throughout my life. I often circle back to reflect on earlier parts of my life to think about them with my current understanding.

Did you miss the beginning of this delightful interview? Click here

To receive my weekly posts, sign up for my  On the home page, enter your email address. Watch for more interviews with authors.  April: Author, H.W. ‘Buzz’ Bernard.  May: Victoria Costello.  June: Laila Ibrahim


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