Interview with author Sumaiya Matin

Book: The Shayṭān Bride

Q1. Hello Ma’am, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

I’m a writer, therapist, and public servant living in Ontario, Canada. I emigrated here when I was about six. My memoir, The Shayṭān Bride, speaks to my migration experience, among other themes. When I am not writing or working, you can find me exploring different towns and cities, trying out different recipes, hiking, or spending time with family.

Q2. What were the key challenges you faced while writing ‘The Shayṭān Bride’ book?

One challenge I faced was the “Islamophobic gaze.” I was very aware of the climate of hate crimes, especially toward Muslims. I often couldn’t help but feel the heavy onus of not misrepresenting my faith, ethnic or cultural background. I was overall quite anxious about my writing being misconstrued in some way to perpetuate irrational fears or stereotypes. I had to trust myself to speak about the topics I needed to and from my social location and experience, in a way where I remained as honest as possible, and also mindful of the impact of words. It was an interesting position to be in. Another challenge I faced was my schedule. I was working a full-time job while writing, so I had to find any and every opportunity to write. I had to balance all of my commitments.

Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Well, I have always appreciated literature about the South Asian diaspora or Muslim experience. When I was younger, if I stumbled across a book with such content, I would feel so excited, as I’d feel seen in some way. I looked forward to books by authors such as Jhumpa Lahiri, Arundhati Roy, and Michael Ondaatje. I also read a lot of classical works by Rabindranath Tagore, which was always refreshing. As a literature student in a Canadian university, I often picked up books by Margaret Atwood for analysis – I was drawn to her gothic style. I also appreciated reading thrillers and suspenseful stories, for example, books by Dan Brown. These days I am reading a lot more memoir, and I continue to be drawn to books about Islamic spirituality (Imam Ghazali’s classics, Yasmin Mogahed) and female, Muslim protagonists. These topics, and these authors and their styles have probably influenced me.

Q4. What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

I don’t believe I have a specific, special spot in Canada that I like to visit. I generally enjoy stumbling upon small forests or woods that are tucked away in the most unexpected places. I find them so mystical and peaceful.

Q5. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing a book?

It depends. I’ll usually create a really loose outline of the entire book that I’ll use as a reference when starting to write the individual chapters. I like to make my writing area cozy, homely, grounding – once I’ve achieved this, it’s easier for me to begin writing. Once I do, my writing tends to flow and I keep going.

Q6. How long did it take you to write ‘The Shayṭān Bride’ book?

For years, I thought about writing it. It took me about three months to write the full first draft that I submitted for editing.

Q7. On what all platforms readers can readers find ‘The Shayṭān Bride’ for purchasebook to buy?

The Shayṭān Bride can be purchased through Amazon, Book Depository (for international orders), Chapters Indigo and independent bookstores (Bookshop, Indie Bound) as well as the publisher’s (Dundurn Press) website.

Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title of ‘The Shayṭān Bride’?

The amazing design team at Dundurn Press (publisher) used content from the first chapter to guide their selection of the cover image. The actual image is a painting by Rebecca Massey. This painting is an adaptation of the 1781 oil painting “The Nightmare,” created by Anglo-Swiss artist Henry Fuseli. After the cover image was presented to me, I made some recommendations to customize it more to the story and the protagonist, myself. For example, I asked for the skin tone of the woman in the image to be a little darkened, and for a ta’wiz to be added around her neck. I also asked for changes to the clock face. This process of creating and editing the cover was collaborative and I really appreciated the publisher working with me in this way.
“The Shayṭān Bride” was originally the title of one of the chapters. My editor and I decided to make it the book title as well because it best encapsulated the essence of the story, and on so many levels.
What I love about both the cover and the title is the sense of mystery, intrigue, suspense, evocativeness – and there is opportunity for subjectivity. The image and the title speak different things to different people; it’s hard to put your finger on what they are really trying to communicate. I love that. Readers can revisit the image and title and think about whether their original impressions have changed or not.

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

I love to read. Constantly reading and processing ideas, including those that are new and different from mine, keep my own thinking and creative processes flowing. I also like to travel, and often ideate and write while I travel. I find that being in new places, and exploring them with a sense of openness and wonderment keeps me engaged with the world, which in turn, inspires me to share my findings with others through writing.

Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

The process of uncovering a secret is probably more interesting than being told one. So, I’ll leave it to readers to determine if there are secrets and what they are

Author’s Profile

Book Is Available On Amazon

The Shayṭān Bride

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