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She marries an illegal immigrant to survive and pull back
It’s the book that inspires those who have been through a rough period that life can get better, that things do improve, that eventually wounds can heal with time and happy endings do truly exist for even underserving people. Read ON!
1. What inspired you to write this book?
The Shade of Devotion was cathartic for me in many ways as the inspiration for the book came from my own personal experiences. I was homeless at 17 with my three younger siblings awarded to foster care after our mother’s abandonment. During that time, my Asian friend offered to have me marry her relative who was an illegal immigrant. He needed a green card and was willing to pay for an arranged marriage. I would have gotten enough money to gain a residence and possibly custody of my brothers had I taken the offer. However, I did not—yet, this life event is what inspired The Shade of Devotion. Yasmin is essentially me at seventeen, angry, bitter and alone. Some of the things she says, some of the things said to her by social workers, and some of the feelings that she expresses are very real—it happened to me, it was said to me, and I felt the very same way.
Yasmin is trying her best to put her family back together, but she has little help and little hope. Unlike me, she agrees to marry an illegal immigrant, and now this young woman has to navigate the foster care system and a marriage without first coming to terms with her own grief. Overcoming loss and grief and healing—is a constant theme in the book for every character including Yasmin. However, Yasmin gets the ending that I wish I could have received at seventeen.
2. What were the earliest incidents in your life when you learnt you had a writer in you.
In elementary school, my teacher assigned us a project. She wanted us to use our vocabulary terms to write a one-page story. I remember distinctly staying up all night to get my story perfect, and it was much longer than the required one page. It was supposed to be a comedy that would make my classmates laugh. I remember inserting something about a cat going to court, and the judge yelling “Throw the book at him!” and the bailiff literally throwing a book at the cat. It was quirky and well-written for a second grader. Although, I may be a tad biased. Nevertheless, the next day, I stood in front of the class and read my story aloud to everyone’s amusement.
My teacher asked me several times who helped me write my story, which would later become a common occurrence throughout school. Every time I wrote a story, an essay, a poem—I was always asked “Who helped you.” People are always surprised that someone so young could write so sophisticatedly. My teachers always recommended me first to any writing contest throughout my elementary, middle and high school years. I even won the Hear Our Voices contest and was published during 11th grade. I was also recommended for Governors Honors in Communicative Arts. Eventually, I went on to major in English with a concentration in Professional Writing with the hopes of becoming an author.
Writing poetry, short stories and eventually novels has always been a love of mine, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a pen and paper in my hand creating my own little worlds with imaginary characters—which is exactly the case with The Shade of Devotion. I was doing what I do best—write—and The Shade of Devotion is one of the best works that I have created on my journey as an author.
3. Who are the most apt readers for this book? What kind of seeker would be delighted to read this piece?
The Shade of Devotion was written for women—it is a book that takes the reader on an emotional journey from loss, to grief, to hope, and to salvation. It’s the book that inspires those who have been through a rough period that life can get better, that things do improve, that eventually wounds can heal with time and happy endings do truly exist for even underserving people. Although Yasmin and Nisay’s relationship is imperfect, and Yasmin has a knack of getting in her own way and constantly self-sabotaging, and Nisay is constantly trying to recreate a family that he cannot get back and even Kaleb constantly feels the need to choose between a perfect stranger and the sister he has always known—their commitment and devotion to each other, to having a family, eventually unites them. They learn what it means to love each other and to love themselves along the way.
4. Who's your inspiration when it comes to becoming an author?
My favorite author is Robert Jordan. I often admire his ability to blur the lines of good and evil. He made characters that were human and inexplicably complicated—even the characters own idea of right could be inexplicably wrong and vice versa. Nothing was all good or all bad; good and bad is often complicated and confusing; everything is a little mixture of both, which is the true paradigm of the human experience. We are all mixtures of both—and this is why none of the characters in The Shade of Devotion or all good or all bad. They are simply people trying to make sense of their current world and situation. Yasmin is not the perfect heroine, she is even at times unlikable, but that’s reality. As people we are imperfect, often unlikeable, and we make mistakes—but that is what makes us interesting, that is what makes our stories worth reading, and that is what makes my character Yasmin come to life.
5. What changed after you turned an author?
I’ve always been a writer, but everything changed once I became an author. I opened up a whole new world of experiences, respect, friendship and even love. Not only do I write stories, but I get to share them with a growing fanbase. Originally, when I started publishing novels, I doubted they would ever gain any notoriety or readership. I was very humble in respects to my abilities, but soon after publishing people began following me on social media, writing me emails, and telling me how much they loved my novels. I soon developed friendships and a fanbase of people who appreciate my writing, my characters, and my stories. In fact, I cannot tell you how many times I have had someone tell me how much my novel touched them or moved them. I would never give up this experience of publishing, and I hope my readership grows. I want to hear from even more people how much my novels moved and inspired them.
6. How many hours did you have to dedicate to bring this book alive? What schedules you had while doing this? What's your hack here for other writers?
Writing a book is like birthing a baby, and the process is not the same for everyone. It takes me anywhere from between 9 months to a year to write a book to completion. It’s truly a commitment, and I have often heard of writers taking even longer. Many times, as authors we get so many writing ideas that we start many book projects, but we never complete it. We constantly are starting novels with no real end in sight. However, to have a completed novel, you have to finish it. You have to work on the novel from start to end. So, my best advice for any author is to commit to the process: sit down, write, edit and keep writing and editing until it is done; don’t stop writing until your book is finished. Don’t take on any new projects until you are finished with your initial book. Commitment is the key to publishing. The Shade of Devotion was a year long commitment that was worth seeing to the end—and whatever novel you are working on deserves the same type of devotion.
7. Who are the people you would love to thank & mention about in this journey of having become an author?
The biggest person I would like to thank on my journey is probably my most conflicted relationship and that is my mother. She is the sole person that inspired and fostered my love of prose. She was my first, biggest and loyal fan, and my first editor. I remembered her pouring over contest after contest for me to enter in high school; and, even as an adult, when she was at her worst, she made sure to remind me that I was a writer and that I should be writing. My mother is at the heart of every character, of every heartache, and every syllable embedded in each chapter of my book. To her, I will forever be grateful.
I would also like to thank my grandmother for investing in me when no one else would, my brother for making sure I had the space and time to write, and my dad for purchasing every novel that I produced. Also, I am grateful to each person that has ever purchased a novel, I am forever in their debt. Each reader, each customer, each self-proclaimed fan of my work has become a part of my journey as a writer, and it is for them that I continue doing what I love.
8. Lastly, What's your piece of advice for other aspiring authors? Write the kind of novels that you love to read. Write the kind of characters you want to see. Write the kind of stories you have always longed to tell.
This book can be purchased from any bookstore and the following websites:
www.healtheheartpublishingllc.com | "The Shade Of Devotion" On Barnes N Noble | "The Shade Of Devotion" on Amazon
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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 12th July 2019.