About Ilham Alam:
Ilham (the “H” is the same “H” as in hat) lives in Toronto, Canada, with her family that includes a very lazy cat. Toronto is called a “city within a park” for good reason, due to all its public parks and greenery in every neighbourhood, from which Ilham drew inspiration for this book while out for her own wonder walks with her kids. Ilham is a Student Advisor by day and a writer by night. She is also a trained Indian Classical Dancer and is an avid traveller, you can check out her travel stories on her Instagram.
What inspires you to write?
I love reading and learning about fictitious worlds or even the real world in a certain point in time or place. This is what inspires me to write: to entertain others with a new world and a cast of characters who seem very real.
Tell us about your writing process.
I am a seat-of-the-pants writer. I start off with a rough outline in my head and then keep writing and writing and get new ideas and plot points, as the words flow out. I would like to be more like Margaret Atwood, who comes up with story outlines and character sketches including the historical time period that they lived in, what they wore, the lingo they would have used which is appropriate to their time and social class. But, try as I might, I have not been like that.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Yes I do. I think up of dialogues, facial expressions, how they move, what they wear- throughout my day. I even get a random idea when I'm doing things like brushing my teeth. The mundane act of brushing teeth has proven to be very inspirational.
What advice would you give other writers?
Keep reading so that you can become a better writer. I will never understand how some writers say that they hardly read, except for memes and tweets! If you don't read, then how do you know what good writing looks like? How do you know what writing pitfalls to avoid, so that you can keep the attention of your readers? How do you expect others to have the patience to read through your writing & enjoy it, if you do not show the same courtesy to other written work as well?
I would also say that writers should learn and continue to improve upon their craft including taking creative writing courses, reading about writing, using beta readers and critique groups.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
It isn't easy to break into traditional publishing, I get it! I have queried other children's fiction that i have written to traditional publishers. While they liked my story, I got the response that their list was way too small and they preferred working with agent submissions or other referrals if it was a completely brand-new, untried, author.
I began to research further and saw that querying literary agents would give me a better shot at reaching the traditional publisher, especially as a new author with a new but growing platform. So that is what I am doing right now.
I submitted my manuscript to Iguana Books which is a hybrid publisher. Due to their business model, they are able to give opportunity to a new author, which would help me in getting publishing credits and experience. And Iguana Books has partnerships with well-known organizations such as the Canadian Authors Association, so I liked that it gave credibility to the hybrid publishing model, as well. So I would encourage new authors to look at all the publishing models that are out there, do their research and outline what they want out of their publishing journey.
Being a completely brand new author is like a chicken & egg question, I find. How do you get the attention of traditional publishers if you have no books, no author platform, no idea of a marketing plan or where to even start? But how do you gain all these experience and skills, if someone doesn't take a chance on your work?
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Physical books are here to stay! And at least in my city, your friendly neighbourhood bookstore is here to stay too!
Even with the advent of lower cost e-books and audiobooks (which has opened up the joy of reading to people who may not have preferred reading or had the time to read), there is still magic in opening up a new book and falling headfirst into it.
What genres do you write?: Children, Early Reader, Picture Book, Rhyming
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.