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  • Kais Al Kaissi
  • Kazima Wajahat
  • Khadija Abdul-Haqq
  • Khadijah Khaki
  • Kosser Abdul Aziz
  • Kamal Ali
  • Kate Rafiq

    Name: Kate Rafiq

    Email: Info@dunebooks.co.uk

    Website: www.dunebooks.co.uk

    Instagram: @dune.books and @katerafiqstudio

    Facebook: @katedunebooks

    YouTube: AlSalwabookshec

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    What book(s) have you written?

    • Birmingham Boy
    • The World is Your Masjid

    When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

    Ever since I was a child, I’ve always loved writing poetry and silly rhyming stories. I won a poetry competition at school, but as I went through my late teens and twenties I left writing to focus on working and then being a wife! However, when my first child was born, I began writing again and started to take it more seriously. It took me several years of writing more and more until finally I decided that it was time to set up my own publishing house and get on with not just writing, but illustrating and publishing my work.

    How long did it take you to write your book(s)?

    It probably only takes me a couple of weeks to write my stories. Then they have to be read and reread a gazillion times. I send them to a couple of editors to check for spelling and grammar mistakes and then I leave them for a few more weeks, so that I can revisit the text with fresh eyes. Usually I make a few changes and then send the text off again to the editors. Meanwhile, I have started illustrating and that is what takes me the longest. That is why I don’t produce work quickly; it takes me a long time to make sure that the illustrations are as good as I can make them. And once the books are printed, I always find things I wish I had done differently or better. I think I am probably my own harshest critic! 

    What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

    I have four children so I struggle to have a work schedule. But usually I do my writing and illustrating in the early hours, before anyone gets up and I can concentrate the best. I love the dawn: it’s when I can think the clearest and I seem to be able to achieve so much in the few hours before everyone wakes up.

    What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

    I’m not sure I have any quirks. I drink a lot of tea and eat too many snacks when I’m writing so I like to take breaks and go for walks.
     

    Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

    Usually I get my ideas from mine and my children’s experiences. However, my next book takes me out of my comfort zone and arguably, into territory that some may say I shouldn’t venture. I will be writing a blog post and addressing this in detail when the time is right.

    What do you like to do when you're not writing?

    I currently live in Wales and I love going to our local beach. It’s usually empty, apart from the odd dog walker and we have the whole place to ourselves. It’s a huge privilege and it touches my soul every time we go.

    What does your family think of your writing?

    I know pride has negative connotations but my mum is proud of me, which is nice, because there have probably been moments in life where she may have wondered if I would ever achieve anything! My husband and kids are also happy to see my ideas and sketches become real books. Birmingham Boy was somewhat based on my youngest son - he even has the same yellow coat. He always has a big smile on his face when we read it!

    What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

    As a new publisher, I didn’t anticipate the complexities of producing a book. There’s a lot more to it than just writing a story and drawing some pictures. There’s a great deal of technical stuff that has to happen and I’m still not sure that I’ve completely got my head around it all!  

    Do you have any suggestions to help people become a better writer? If so, what are they?

    Write as much as you can about anything you like. Keep a notepad and pen next to your bed - I often have ideas when I’m about to go to sleep or from weird dreams I have had. Use an editor. Once you have written the text, leave it for a week or so and then read it again with ‘fresh eyes’. You’ll always be able to improve it.  

    What do you think makes a good story?

    It’s subjective I think - like art! What one person loves, another will hate. I think writers should have a clear focus on the point of the story they are telling and then tell it in the very best way they can.

    As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

    When I turned eleven I had to go to boarding school because my mum was leaving to join my dad who worked abroad. I visited several schools and had ‘interviews’ with the headteachers, and one of them asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. This was actually my mum’s old school and she had high hopes for me to go there. What kind of career did I see myself having when I left school, the head teacher wondered. Out of nowhere, I blurted out ‘Comedian!’ I don’t know where that came from. Perhaps I was just trying to lighten the atmosphere, or perhaps I was trying to get her to refuse me entry, as I wasn’t that keen on the school. I wasn’t really serious about being a comedian. I knew I wanted to do something artistic - but I wasn’t sure what, and I’m still not really sure now!

    What is your favorite book?

    Believe it or not - I don’t have much time to read. When I do steal a few minutes I try to read material that informs me. I’ve just started reading Tangled in Terror by Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan. Obviously I love reading picture books to my son and there are far too many favourites to mention. And of course, as a child I loved Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. 

    Where do you live?

    Machynlleth

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    Please share 10 Random facts about yourself for your readers!

    1. I often forget how old I am
    2. I live in a chapel
    3. I can tile a roof
    4. I love curry leaves
    5. I cry in films, even really rubbish ones
    6. Most things smell like petrol to me
    7. My favourite drink is licorice tea
    8. I have delivered about fifty babies
    9. I hate spiders.
    10. I wish I didn’t but I can’t help it. I’m quite dull - writing this list has demonstrated this perfectly!
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