Papatia: I had the pleasure to read Secrets Under the Olive Tree and like the Author put it in the foreword of her novel, Layla Anwar is Palestine. Layla is also a brave character who struggled her whole life because she is a woman, Arab, Palestinian, and American. Double standards, bigotry, and other social ills plagued a huge portion of her life. Today, we have the writer of her story with us to discuss the book a little bit.
Assalamu aleikum Nevien Shaabneh, welcome to Hayati Magazine and thank you for accepting to do this interview.
1. Please tell us something about yourself that we don’t know.
Nevien : I love to cook food from different cultures. My husband and I are always on the lookout for new dishes and recipes. My children have experienced and learned about a myriad of cultures through experiencing and tasting different foods. Whether it is Indian, Turkish, Moroccan, Venezuelan, Thai, Brazilian, Korean etc. and so much more, we have tried it! I think food brings people together and builds bridges. I cook and share meals with others as a way to communicate love and show compassion. I think the way to many people’s hearts is through great and interesting food.
I agree! Food brings people together. It’s a very powerful way to connect. Our nuclear family is the same, and I’m glad I can relate with you in this domain.
2. I loved your debut novel! It was very touching on many levels. I did root for the oppressed; Palestine and all the women martyred in public and in their own homes. Did you cry while writing it?
I do become attached to the characters in my novel. I feel for them and often obsess about what happens to them. There were many times I wrote a scene and felt a knot in my throat as I was writing. Many readers have shared that they cried several times reading the novel. It is not that I aspire to make my readers cry, but if readers can connect on a deep emotional level, then as a writer, I feel I have done my job. The greatest compliment to a writer is a reader who expresses an emotional connection to a character.
Well, well done! I was very touched.
3. I read a lot of books, and I watch a lot of movies written by Authors who have the gift. So, I got pretty good at guessing the end of many stories throughout the years. That said, I didn’t see the end of your book coming! How did you do that?!
Thank you! I wanted Secrets Under the Olive Tree to be a suspenseful novel. I wanted it to be a page turner and consist of a few twists and turns. I am glad I accomplished my goal!
You definitely accomplished that goal in my opinion.
4. Can I infer that your heroine Layla Anwar will show up again in another sequel? If yes, when do you plan on releasing the second novel? I’m so ready to read the mother’s story!
I am currently working on my second novel that has the aspects of mystery and suspense that readers enjoyed in my first novel. However, it is not a sequel to Secrets Under the Olive Tree. Many readers have messaged and emailed asking for a sequel. After much consideration, I feel I told Layla’s story to its completion. I am content with the way the book ended and do not feel it needs a sequel at this time.
I can understand that, and I look forward to read your second novel.
5. How did the Muslim LGBT community receive your book?
People from different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, genders, sexual orientation and religions have read and connected to the book. I feel blessed that I have been able to reach out to so many readers. Secrets Under the Olive Tree is not written for any single group. I do not write for a particular group of people. I do not write for categories of people. I merely write good stories that anyone can pick up and enjoy. My craft is focused on connecting with all readers.
Oh no, you write good stories!
6. Now, please share with us your social media links for readers to find out more information on you.
Thank you for being with us. The team at Hayati Magazine and I wish you well in all your futures endeavors, amiin.
Thank you so much Papatia. It has been a pleasure talking to you!
Readers check out Secrets Under the Olive Tree available on Amazon. You won’t be disappointed!
Jazak’Allah khair for reading,