"I honestly didn't know I had the talent until then."
Having only started writing 6 years ago, British Asian author Zenab Shapuri (39) has published her debut children’s book, Dragon Pop’s Journey.
Residing in Birmingham, England, Zenab has been on a fast track journey to finally release her creativity to the world.
Having only stumbled upon her passion for writing by accident, Zenab is aiming to bring new light to children’s stories.
Her appreciation for writing stems from her own experiences as a child when reading books.
Being exposed to such imagination from a young age means Zenab has been able to create in a manner that utilises her creative skills.
In the hopes of influencing the next generation of writers, Zenab has emphasised her ambition to produce unique storytelling.
Heavily influenced by thrillers, the excited author has hinted how Dragon Pop’s Journey is no ordinary children’s story.
With the inclusion of surprising twists, bright illustrations and witty conversations, the humourous book is on course to do well.
In an exclusive interview with DESIblitz, Zenab discusses her start in writing, literary influences and her passion to inspire.
What was the first piece you ever wrote?
I have always loved writing and never thought I would be able to do so until now.
The first piece I ever wrote was when I was at secondary school for my English essay where we had to write a small creative piece.
I wrote a short story based on my own experience linked to a book I was reading at the time.
How do you describe your writing?
I would describe my writing as unique.
“Because my writing is fun, engaging and you can get lost in a whole new children’s world.”
My writing will not only make you laugh but will also let you get lost in an imaginary world beyond your dreams.
I mean do you know an island called “Fairy Flowers?”
How did you get the idea of Dragon Pop’s Journey?
I smile when I write this because all the credit goes to my son who is now 12 years old.
He was 5 at the time when I came up with a story on the spot as he was bored reading all the same books in his room.
I honestly didn’t know I had the talent until then.
At the time I was working at my son’s school and a private nursery.
His music teacher suggested I publish it as I got a good reaction from the children I told my story to.
How is Dragon Pop’s Journey different?
Dragon Pop’s Journey is different in the sense that it is not your average fairy tale where the prince meets the princess and live happily ever after.
I do not want to give too much away about the book and if I do tell how it is different I will give away the surprise that lies within the book.
Let’s just say my book is based on modern times.
How did it feel to publish your first book during the pandemic?
I was a bit apprehensive but I also felt and still do feel that it is the best time to publish a book.
Knowing that many children were at home, it would have been nice for them to have something new and modern to read.
It was a weird but good feeling when it was finally published as I waited 3 years for this to happen.
So there was a mixture of excitement and fear.
Excitement because I know my book is out there and I am recognized as an author by family, friends and colleagues.
Then fear because knowing we are in a pandemic and that it may not do soo well.
What has the reaction been like?
From friends, family and work colleagues the reaction has been amazing where I have sold 6 of my own complimentary books.
“I have also had a sale of 10 books from my son’s old primary school. So, so far a good start.”
I have done so much advertising where I have sent details of my book to over 20 primary schools and private nurseries.
I’ve not had much of a reaction from them; which is understandable given how much pressure the schools are under right now with getting back to some sort of normality.
I am hoping to get more feedback and response during the Summer/Autumn when the schools are back into a routine.
What do you love about writing children’s books?
I have always loved reading children’s books and I have worked with children for 7 years in different schools and nurseries.
When reading to them I loved seeing their reactions to the books.
When I was able to give that feeling back with my own book, it brought a warm feeling to my heart.
Knowing that when children read my books they will get that same exciting feeling and they will remember the books in years to come.
I find it easy to write children’s books too because the stories come naturally to me.
You can be as imaginative as you want to be and can write about anything and everything no matter how silly it may sound.
How has writing helped you?
Writing for me is somewhere that I can escape to and be a child myself.
When I write I can be my child-self which helps me to write the books I do.
I feel I can relate to children on their level through my writing.
I don’t remember much about my childhood but I know I grew up reading these amazing books which I still enjoy reading today.
When I write, I remember those times when my teacher read to me and the excitement I felt.
Which authors do you admire and why?
Wow, too many authors. I will try and recall my top favourites.
I am in love with Audible right now and over lockdown, I have listened to so many books; mainly mysteries, thrillers and crime, and I have to say these are top of my list.
As mentioned before I love reading and I have read many books.
The ones that stick in my mind are books by Bali Rai and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni who are Asian writers.
“I love how they bring the Asian culture alive through their writing.”
JK Rowling is another favourite as I love it when I got lost in the world of mystery and magic
Recently through lockdown, I’ve read Val McDermid, Nick Louth, Jo Spain, Ruhi Choudhary, D. S Butler and Lucy Dawson who are all Crime/Thriller authors.
I love how they can keep you on the edge of your seat guessing who the killer is.
What are your ambitions as an author?
My books have a unique twist in them compared to children’s books nowadays.
Twists and uniqueness you wouldn’t expect from a children’s book but in a nice gentle way.
This is what I want my audience to see about me, that I am unique and if you have imagined it you will find that in my books.
I want children to smile and feel excited once they have read my books.
It is extremely evident how passionate Zenab feels about writing and creating stories for children.
Her motivation to inspire children and to unlock their imagination highlights how determined Zenab is with her craft.
With schools beginning to have a sense of normality, it is likely that Dragon Pop’s Journey has not seen the height of its success yet.
With 4 other books in the pipeline, Zenab intends to carry on this momentum in order to flourish among other writers.
Zenab’s skill and creative flair are parallel to her growing fanbase, and she aims to diversify her writing in the future.
Having started her own blog in 2021, Zenab exhibits an unmatched dedication to writing and her will to improve as a writer is inspiring.
Her witty tone and artistic insight prove to be a very successful recipe for storytelling.
She hopes that children, as well as parents, feel satisfied, happy and content when reading Dragon Pop’s Journey.
You can experience the thrill of Dragon Pop’s Journey here.