Ayisha is a British Muslim, lifelong Londoner, and lover of books. She read English Literature and went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing. She has spent various spells photocopying, volunteering, being a publicist at Random House, and managing editor at Cornerstones Literary Consultancy. Her novels include, 'Sofia Khan is Not Obliged' and 'The Other Half of Happiness'. She is also the ghost writer for GBBO winner, Nadiya Hussain and has contributed to the anthology, 'A Change is Gonna Come.'
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It was impossible to say no to the ChangeBook project when I was approached for it. The idea of bringing together different BAME writers, to write on the theme of change, together with the promise of finding new talent was something I wanted to be a part of. It was putting publishing talk of diversity into action. In a time that feels bleak, the anthology’s theme also felt both defiant and hopeful.
I was nervous about writing for YA as well as writing a short story. The short story form requires brevity in expressing all the nuances you wish to put across in the novel form. (And anyone who’s read my books will know I have a problem with brevity.) Ultimately, for me, it was about taking a trip down memory lane. Sabrina – the main character in my story – and I have very little in common, but it required revisiting some of the universal issues of what it’s like growing up (which, arguably, some of us still haven’t managed to do); the theme of not belonging, feeling disconnected from friends and family, being misunderstood etc. It was about gathering all those emotions and making them specific to the character and the setting.
My story, A Refuge, is about Sabrina reluctantly volunteering with her parents at a refugee camp, who ends up becoming friends with one of the refugees, Homa, . I feel that people often go and volunteer with the idea that they’re helping others, but end up taking away more from the experience than they actually give. It’s really about the bittersweet nature of change; how the consequences of moving forward mean leaving certain things behind. Sometimes it is people, and sometimes, it is even yourself.
Featuring top Young Adult authors and introducing a host of exciting new voices, this anthology of stories and poetry from BAME writers on the theme of change is a long-overdue addition to the YA scene. Contributors include Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga and Nikesh Shukla. Plus introducing four fresh new voices in YA fiction: Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy.
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