Meet This Author: Zara Raheem

Q: When did you get started in writing stories?
When I was in second grade, I came across the book “Harriet the Spy” and instantly became obsessed with not just Harriet as a character, but with the world of adolescent sleuthing which sounded so exciting, dangerous, and exhilarating to my eight-year-old self. I started carrying a notebook around and jotted down stories of things happening in my neighborhood—which wasn’t much considering I lived in a sleepy little town in the Midwest—but that was how my fascination with writing and storytelling
began. Since then, I’ve always been drawn to writing in some way through journaling, poetry, short stories, or novels.  
Q: What inspired you to publish your book, The Retreat?
I just love stories about sisterhood. I think it’s because I have a sister, and I know how integral that
relationship has been in my life. I also know there are ebbs and flows to every relationship depending on
various circumstances, so when I was thinking about ideas for my second novel, I was interested in
exploring how a relationship between two sisters, who had previously been close, could become fraught
and distant after having experienced a significant loss. I knew I wanted them to find their way back to
each other, so I just built a story around that journey.
Q: Who are the main characters?

 The story primarily revolves around Nadia, her husband Aman, and her sister Zeba.  

Q: How would you describe your writing style?
My goal is to take complicated issues/emotions and write about them in a way that feels accessible. I hope that my writing style conveys that!
Q: For aspiring writers, what advice would you give them? Can anyone be an author?
Don’t wait for inspiration to begin writing. The practice of writing (if done frequently and consistently) is
what will lead to inspiration. Octavia Butler says, “Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit
will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not.” I do think anyone can be an author if they’re committed to making writing a consistent part of their lives.
Q: How did you get started in the women’s fiction genre?
I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision to write in a particular genre. I’m interested in telling stories about strong women who, despite societal and cultural expectations, can carve out their own paths to happiness. The stories I write center around issues that aren’t often talked about in South Asian communities, so exploring these ideas through writing is a way for me to connect with others who may be going through a similar journey in their own lives.

Q: What themes are found inside of The Retreat?

“The Retreat” focuses on some heavier themes like infidelity, infertility, grief, and divorce, but at its core it’s a story of empowerment and the importance of living your most authentic life.

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