First of all I’d like to welcome Zvezdana Rashkovich to my blog. It’s a pleasure to have you with us to talk a bit about yourself and your book “Dubai Wives”
Please grab a chair and let us begin!
So let’s start with some history,
- Tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in ex-Yugoslavia. My mother is Croatian; father Serbian and my stepfather a Muslim Sudanese. I grew up in Sudan. After living in the USA for ten years my family moved to the Gulf region. It has been our home for the last 16 years. (Qatar and UAE) I am a mother to four fantastic human beings and wife to a Sudanese architect. I write columns on expat life and multicultural parenting among other things.
- When did you start to feel that writing is an important part of you?
Since I learned how to write.
- Have you taken part in any local/international competitions?
- Did you attend any workshops courses?
- What was the first book that got you interested in writing?
I wrote my first novella (a short novel) when I was fifteen. It was about four best friends from multicultural backgrounds who grow up in Sudan.
- When did you decide you want to publish?
Two years ago. I decided this was it. I got tired of being afraid, of rejection or criticism. I realized that I had to let go of perfection and do things my way. That comes with certain repercussions but I was willing to face them.
Writing & Zvezdana:
- What are your favorite genres to read?
Multicultural, literary and historical fiction
- What are your favorite genre(s) to write?
- When did the idea pop up into your mind that “I want to be an author”?
I can’t remember but certainly when I was very young. Maybe 10 or 11.
- Do you write any other form of literature (poetry, prose, quotes etc..)?
I write columns, travel articles, short stories, vignettes and poetry or something akin to it.
- Did writing change you?
Yes, it has. It is a creative outlet with which I can make sense of what goes on around me. Writing has allowed me a place of refuge and a magical alternate reality to which I can escape if needed. Also, it has led me to other opportunities to grow as a human being, as a mother and led to even more writing. It has opened up my mind to numerous ideas, some of which I wouldn’t have experienced if not for the writer’s path.
Through this section we will get to know a bit about Dubai Wives
- So care to tell us a bit about your book?
It’s a multicultural suspense novel about eight women from different parts of the world and diverse beliefs whose lives intersect in Dubai. Their choices take them on unexpected journeys with sometimes tragic consequences. The novel invites readers into a world of decadence, suspense, beauty, love and heartache within this unique desert metropolis.
- How did the idea pop up?
I feel the need to record and share stories about multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-faith characters faced with personal transformation. In my mind I have written dozens of stories/novels about girls and women tempted by circumstances beyond their control, by the pressure of society, the men in their lives or by their own private demons. Stories of women (and men) faced with diversity and alien geographical, religious or lifestyle settings. Dubai with its blend of old and new, wealth and exoticism, its aura of mystery was the perfect backdrop for this theme.
- Have you considered changing it? Not going through it along the way?
Yes, I have. There are certain themes addressed in the novel that I felt would stir some negative feelings.
- What made you passionate about this type or genre?
Again, my passion is multiculture and identity, belonging and transformation. Probably due to my experiences in my own life and my mother’s life.
- Did you struggle to find a title for the book?
I always wanted this title, even though I was advised against using it by writer friends and family.
- When writing, do you get emotionally involved while writing any of the situations or scenes in your book?
Very much so. I cry and laugh. I feel traumatized by the events happening to my characters as I write them. Tears are a necessary part of my writing process.J
Every writer has a muse that comes in all different shapes and forms and even sometimes it’s some sort of very delicate routine that an author cannot write without!
- What’s your muse?
- When does it appear?
Whenever I choose to turn it onJ
- How does it appear?
Well, I am just inspired to write better and with more emotion after listening to rhythm. It can be any kind of music.
- Does it require a specific time or place?
- Do you scribble down notes when you are outside and an idea hits you?
Yes, all the time. I have a little ‘black book’ that goes with me everywhere.
- Did you get brain freezing before? How did you handle it? And how do get back an idea you lost?
You mean writer’s block? Yes, it paralyzes me. Usually due to some emotional blocking that I have to work through first in order to approach writing. Something that’s holding me back for a variety of reasons.
The publishing industry is becoming more open with a lot of various options for the different types of authors, some prefer to go indie, others prefer traditional publishing but in the end each author has a dream
- What are your dreams as an author?
I would like to finish writing my novel ‘Africa in the Way I Dance’ as a tribute to my second homeland Sudan, a country of magical beauty as well as heartbreaking sorrow. Then I would like people to read it and maybe learn or be inspired by the story. Hopefully, I will continue with my other projects as well, regardless of how successful my previous work might be.
- Are you a self-published (indie) or traditional published author?
- Which do you prefer and why?
Like most authors out there I yearned to be traditionally published at first. But the publishing industry is a sales oriented business and complicated, not something every writer can deal with. It’s a tough domain for new authors to break into. My novel didn’t fit into a ‘genre’ necessary for marketing and also I really didn’t pursue publishers as aggressively as I probably should have.
I was never opposed to becoming and indie author or what is also called ‘joint publishing’ because I knew from research that the other options might be a long and torturous journey which might take many years. Indie publishing is the new way of the future. Many famous authors have started out this way. You have more control over your work from the cover, the title of your books and also more financial reward. It’s empowering to have all the rights to your hard work. You can do as you wish with it.
I am glad I did it this way even though I am not opposed to having my second picked up by a major publisher since it would help tremendously especially with marketing and publicity and things like that. As I said publishing IS a business (which I didn’t realize at first) and requires good business sense as well as writing skills, talent , a thick layer of skin and of course luck.
- Imagine you walk down a road and you see in a bookstore a few people standing in front of your book holding one of it and talking about it, how would that make you feel?
Probably thrilled and terrified at the same time.
- As an author who inspired you to write?
I don’t have one specific person or writer who inspired me. It is more of a combination of factors.
My mother influenced me because she wrote stories and read a lot of literary fiction. She always talked about her abandoned writing with a glint of regret in her eyes. (Now in her sixth decade of life she is back experimenting with poetry!)
Also, I was an only child for the first ten years of my life, traveled across Asia and Africa by car and lived in Libya, Iraq and later Sudan, unwillingly and repeatedly having to leave my grandparents, father and family. These elements inflamed my imagination. Growing up on a far-flung farm by the Nile in Sudan I often felt lonely and homesick. By writing I could record all the colorful intriguing characters and cultures that entered my life and process the feelings they evoked in me.
My favorite authors whose work I admire deeply are a diverse mix: Serbian author Gordana Kuic, Polish author Henrik Sienkiewicz, the indomitable Steinbeck, the wonder of words pouring from Barbara Kingsolver, Sudanese author Leila Aboulela and Indian author Abraham Varghese among others.
- If you would give an advice to authors out there who are working on getting out their work, what would your advice be?
I would say be prepared for heartache and sometimes cruelty in this world full of skeptics and those who are ready to bash another person’s dreams. It takes courage to write and have people read your work. It’s like opening your most intimate self for everyone to criticize and scrutinize but hopefully also to love and admire. In the end it’s worth it. Don’t stop regardless of what others think.
Here are some questions we’d like to shoot at you just to get to know you a bit more!
- Favorite drink?
A Starbucks Latte
- Favorite meal?
A Croatian Serbian Bosnian dish called Cevapi. Grilled kofta tucked into a warm bun and served with dollops of sour cream and chopped onions.
- Someone you would love to have over for tea or coffee?
- Left-handed or right-handed?
- What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear or read these words:
- Hills/mountains Regal
- The ocean Mysterious
- Song Passion
- Word Power
- Child Love
- Gun Hate
- World Adventure
Where to find you & your book:
Facebook: Zvezdana Rashkovich
Well after this wonderful time we got to spend with Zvezdana we would like to thank you for taking the time to be with us here and share with us her thoughts! Thank you Zvezdana