x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Noura Al Noman's secrets to success: discipline, focus, research

Abu Dhabi International Book Fair: The author of Cotton the Kitten, Kiwi the Hedgehog and Ajwan says aspiring writers can not rely on talent alone.

Noura Al Noman at the launch of her young adult novel Ajwan at the Sharjah International Book Fair last year. Duncan Chard for The National
Noura Al Noman at the launch of her young adult novel Ajwan at the Sharjah International Book Fair last year. Duncan Chard for The National

Noura Al Noman is the author of two books for children and a science fiction novel for young adults entitled Ajwan, which is published in Arabic by Nahdet Misr

I got my big break when ... I met the chairperson of Nahdet Misr at the 2011 Sharjah International Book Fair. Dalia was very supportive and still is. I am grateful to her and her team.

The book that inspired me to write is ... actually, there is no one book. I am inspired by books that come in series and which revolve around world building. Books by Frank Herbert, Alan Dean Foster, Anne McCaffrey, Julian May, Tad Williams and many more.

The author I'd most like to meet is ... Frank Herbert, the author of Dune. Now that is a world that has inspired sci-fi authors since the 1960s.

The advice I'd give to any writer is ... to not only rely on talent. They need to hone their skills and to write, write, write. Inspiration doesn't hit you while standing in line for a mocha. More often than not, it hits me while I am hunched over my laptop agonising over the next sentence.

The place I work best is ... with me it is never a place. With six kids and a demanding job, I steal time and a place for me. I write in my bedroom, on the porch, on the balcony, at a cafe, while my hair is being done at a beauty salon. That's how I finished 91,000 words in nine months.

The art of storytelling is all about ... transporting a reader into the body and mind of each character in the story to the point where the real world surrounding him becomes muted and is totally forgotten. And then the story ends, the reader is jolted back to the real world and he is in pain of loss of living a different life.

The thing I hope people take from my work is ... that there is no age limit to when you can start writing. I started at 45.

What I most hope to see in Abu Dhabi is ... more Arabic novels for young adults, and the right audience to benefit from the book fair.

I am most creative when ... I am disciplined, focused and well informed (read: research).

Noura Al Noman will be in conversation with Rainer Wekwerth on April 27 from 12.30pm at the ADIBF Tent, where the pair will discuss Fantastic Wor(l)ds: Writing for Young Adults. The session will be followed by a book signing.

nmarch@thenational.ae

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