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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Your Life Experience as a Writing Prompt:Interview with Children's Book Author, Princila Murrell

What inspired you to write your debut children’s book?
In fact, I got inspired from my own experience in Saudi Arabia. I chose to go to Saudi Arabia, but it was difficult for me to adjust to a new life, a new culture and traditions, as well as new people. I imagined a kid who had no say being forced to relocate with their parents to a completely unknown foreign country or culture.

When did you actually start writing the book? How long did it take to write your first draft?
I started writing the book back in September 2013. I spent about four weeks writing the first draft, but the real work began after I got the comments from my editor. It took me close to ten months to rewrite the manuscript.

Who encouraged you along the way to complete your writing and publish it?
Two of my friends encouraged me to go ahead with the writing; in fact, one of them, couldn’t wait to preorder!

Prior to writing this book, what was your publishing and writing background?
I have always had an interest in writing. I wrote my first novella when I was 10 years old, and at that time, I thought it was easy to get published. My mum wasn’t very enthusiastic about my thoughts of getting published and she strongly discouraged me from pursuing my writing goals. I started writing again approximately two years after I arrived in Saudi Arabia. I couldn’t find a job in my field of interest and was offered a writing job at a university hospital in Jeddah.

Your book is self-published. What made you decide to go the indie route? Did you send your manuscripts out to other publishers or agents prior to that?
I chose the indie route because I thought I couldn’t wait to share my stories with the world—I had about five unfinished novels at the time. In addition, I had read a lot that said breaking into traditional publishing was a daunting task. With that in mind, I didn’t bother sending my manuscript to other publishers or agents.

What has frustrated you the most in the process of putting together your book?
The most frustrating part during the process was rewriting the first draft. I just couldn’t believe I had to rewrite the entire story—I mean, after spending close to one month writing the first draft, my editor said I had to rewrite everything. I was, however, surprised that when I finally made up my mind to rewrite, it wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined it to be. 

What are some of the promotions that you’ve done for the book that have been the most successful?
So far, free promotion via KDP Select proved to be the most successful for me. A blog tour got me many followers, but unfortunately, no sales. I enjoyed the tour, though.

What advice would you give someone who wants to write children’s stories?
I’m an aspiring writer myself, so I guess there isn’t much that I can tell to someone who wishes to write children’s stories, except to talk to kids a lot and find out what they like or dislike.

What is the best writing advice you’ve been given?
I think the best advice I’ve ever been given was to keep writing.

What do you wish you had learned sooner in the publishing process?
I wish I had learned earlier about self-publishing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not earning thousands of dollars from my book or thinking that self-publishing is the new gold rush. I think it’s just fantastic that with self-publishing, you can write your story the way you think it should be written, and then put it out there when you think it is ready, promote your work if you wish to do it at all, or move on to writing the next book.

How much time daily do you have for writing?
I spend about eight hours writing each day. I mainly write nonfiction as a ghostwriter because that’s what helps us to make ends meet. I allocate less time for fiction, around four hours each week.

What message would you like parents and children to take away from your book? What plans do you have for other books?
This book mainly deals with tolerance towards other cultures and religions. During this time, when there is a lot of racial and religious unrest, I believe it is the right moment to teach our kids tolerance towards people of other races, cultures, and religions. I think it is fun to make friends with people with different backgrounds and learn about their culture and/or beliefs. Besides, we are all humans and empathic by nature. We can learn how to accept those who are different from us or who do not share our beliefs and still live peacefully with each other.

I’m currently writing the sequel to Girl of the Book. I have other novels that I intend to finish writing within a one or two years, hopefully.

That's all for today's interview. To learn more about Princila and her writing, here's some links to get you started.

Twitter (@PMurell):
Goodreads (Princila Murrell):
Facebook (Princila Murrell):

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