Interview with Shahin Ashraf Ali, author of Super Stories With Tips And Activities

A Renaissance of Spirituality
Victims of Blasphemy Laws
We need to travel beyond Hilal and Halal

Shahin Ashraf Ali’s collection of short stories has some wonderful tips and fun activities that your kid will love

By Vidhya Thakkar
What made you write this book (Super Stories With Tips and Activities)?
I believe it was an epiphany. During every academic year, one day my alma mater Duruelo Convent High School, Bandra had nuns (from Pauline Publications) visiting every class and introducing the students to a marvellous range of children’s books. It was one of the high points of my childhood.
Like a magician pulling out a rabbit from a hat, the nun would draw a book from her bag and give us a glimpse of a wonderful world full of magic, mystery, wonder, adventure and fun.
And more than once, I had this inexplicable experience of ‘seeing’ my name on a book the nun held high for the class to see! Somehow, I held this belief that it was a sign of things to come.
Is it difficult to write this genre?
I love it. I write what comes naturally to me. Since I conduct workshops for children and am also a freelance journalist, I draw from empiricism and then take off on my wings of imagination to create stories for children.
If you have to write a book in any other genre, which genre would you write in?
My years of teaching experience have convinced me that fables are fantastic teaching tools. So yes, God willing, I would love to create some fabulous fables. I have some strong spiritual leanings. So, Spirituality is another genre I wish to explore. At present, I am working on a non-fiction book that I hope will inspire young readers to make their learning a lot easier and fun.
How long did it take to write the book Super Stories”¦?
When my previous book, Once Upon A Summer Vacation, was released, I celebrated its birth with several workshops in different places for groups of children, young mothers, teachers and other care givers. The response was so heartening it inspired me to work on a new set of stories.
So in 2015, I started work on Super Stories. By and large, I adhere to the spiritual guidance, ‘Go with the flow.’ And so, there are times when I am occupied with my freelance journalism assignments, teaching schedules or housework. Then there are days when I am just writing stories. But yes, no matter what I may be doing at a given point of time, a part of me maybe creating or dwelling upon a character or plot of a story. I guess it must have taken around a year or so for my manuscript to be ready for submission.
What is a learning that you would like a reader to take from your book?
I hope and pray my young reader looks upon the world as a wonderful place that offers up an eternity of things to do and see and explore and learn from.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I do not have a formal work schedule as such. Time spent writing children’s stories are happy hours for me. Such happy hours happen at any time during the day or night.
What types of book do you enjoy reading?
I enjoy reading. Having said that, I like various kinds of books””biographies, autobiographies, classics, fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, comics, books on spirituality, among others. I feel you are drawn to a particular book according to your state of being at that time.
A recent book that you read?
I just finished reading Khaled Hosseini’sThe Kite Runner, and am now revisiting Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.
What’s success for you?
Being true to yourself.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Write about what you truly believe in.
What was one of the most surprising thing you learnt in creating your books?
Many times when I reread the stories, I wondered, “How did I write that?!” “Where did this thought come from?” I learnt there is a ‘Force’ within you that takes over when you are honestly dedicated to the task at hand.
( Extracted from https://www.vidhyathakkar.com/author-interview-with-shahin-ashraf-ali-author-of-super-stories-with-tips-and-activities-vidhya-thakkar/shahin-2019-red/ )