Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How did you get published?
A: It took me eight years to get my first book published. Lots of trial
and error and lots of rejection. I basically kept sending stories to
publishers until they said 'yes'.
Q: How can I get published?
A: I talk all about that in my article: How to get published Please
don't email me and ask me for more advice. There's not much an author
like me can do to get other people published. Ultimately it depends on
how good what you've written is and the publisher makes the decisions.
Q: Did you cry when you went to Pakistan?
A: Yes I did. I cried when I saw all the poor children.
Q: How old is the child you are sponsoring?
A: I'm actually not sponsoring Kareem anymore. He's a man now. But I'm
sponsoring other kids. They're between the age of eight and eleven years
Q: How old are you?
A: I was born on March 13, 1962 so you do the math.
Q: Why do you like to write?
A: I like to write because I like stories. When I'm writing a story it's
like I'm watching it happen in front of my eyes. I'm just writing it
down. The characters in the story make me laugh and sometimes cry. It's
a lot of fun.
Q: I'd love it if you wrote an
action book! Are you planning to write one soon?
A: One book I'm planning to write one day will have a lot of action.
It's about a story that takes place fourteen hundred years ago about a
boy who wants to save his sister from being killed.
Q: How do you get such good ideas for children's books?
A: The idea for The Roses In My Carpets I got from one picture of my
visit to Pakistan. For Bedtime Ba-a-alk I got the idea when I tried to
go to sleep after getting up at 4:30 in the morning to pray. I couldn't
get back to sleep. So I imagined some sheep to count but two of the
sheep were talking to eachother instead of jumping over the fence. I
told them to come on, jump! But one of them, an old ram, just looked at
me and said, "Who the heck are you?" I thought it was funny so I sat up
and wrote this story. For the stories of Muslim Child I got the ideas
from things that had happened. For Ruler of the Courtyard, my brother's
wife told me that when she was a girl in Pakistan she was afraid of the
chickens in the courtyard. I thought that was funny, so I wrote Ruler of
the Courtyard. For King of the Skies, a story about a boy who can't walk
but can really fly kites, I got the idea when I was in Pakistan, during
that same trip when I got the idea for The Roses In My Carpets. I saw
some kites high in the sky. They were "fighting" and the people flying
them were trying to cut eachother's strings. That's the game they play
in Pakistan. I thought of a story of a kid who couldn't walk but would
be so good at fighting with kites that he was the King of the Skies.
Q: How is your culture different from the characters in your
A: I am lucky because I come from about three different cultures. I am
Pakistani, that's one culture. I am Canadian, that's another culture.
And I'm Muslim, that's another culture. In the stories I write, I try to
make the stories fun for anyone from any culture to read because no
matter what culture we come from, we're all human. I think culture
represents different ways of thinking and doing things that we all do.
It represents different ways of eating foods - yum! It represents
different ways of wearing clothes - pretty! and different ways of saying
things - languages. So even though in some ways my culture is exactly
like the cultures of the people in my stories, in other ways I'm
completely different. When I write a story I try to think like the
person in the story. Sometimes that person wouldn't know some of the
things that I know, so I have to let that person not know them and write
the story as if I didn't know them too. It's not always easy. Sometimes
I want to change what they'd know so that it's more like what I know,
but that would be cheating, so I don't.
Q: Which is your favourite book that you've written?
A: I think it would be The Roses In My Carpets. It's because I think
it's an important story.
Q: Do you know what your first and last names mean?
A: My first name was the name of a princess. I think it was the name of
Alexander the Great's wife Roxanne. It sounds the same. It also has a
meaning in Persian. My mother told me it means "girl with rosy cheeks".
People tell me that it suits me. My last name, Khan, means "king" or
"ruler". You might notice that a couple of my stories have these words
in the title. (ie. Ruler of the Courtyard, King of the Skies)
Q: What inspired you to write books?
A: I love stories, especially children's books and I wanted to share the
stories that grow in my head with other kids.
Q: When did you start writing books?
A: I started writing when I was thirteen years old but those books
couldn't be published. I started writing books seriously in 1989.
Q: Do you like expressing your feelings in your books?
A: Yes! I do. Because I come from another culture I like to show how
people in my culture feel about things and how differently we think too.
Q: Aside from writing books, what other things do you like to
A: I love to garden. I love growing flowers and I like telling stories
and folktales. And I LOVE reading!
Q: What inspired you to keep writing?
A: Sometimes some people told me I couldn't become an author. Even some
relatives have told me I couldn't be one either because of the way I
dress. But when people told me things like that it just made me even
more determined. So even when my stories were rejected, I kept trying
because I believed they were good.