Dania Kadi is a long-standing member of authonomy, and at one time was a familiar face around the site. We're delighted to congratulate her on the forthcoming release of her debut novel, a former editor's desk title. She's our guest blogger today and relates a little about herself, her book and her journey to publication. Thanks Dania!
Born in the USA, I’ve also had the chance to live in Lebanon, Belgium, Kuwait, the UAE and the UK. As a child I wanted to be a journalist and writer in France, so it made perfect sense to study history at the American University of Beirut and then take up a job as a computer sales woman in Kuwait. This led to a career in technology in Lebanon and Dubai (the city I consider my soul mate) and to London where I currently live with my husband.
Summer Blast is my first full length novel. My short novel, Un Chemin Sur Son Front, was published in Paris by Éditions Caractères in June 2000. I’ve contributed a short story, Trophy Wife to the Words to Music anthology by writers from authonomy and have written articles for Arabic language newspapers. I’ve also been known to throw impromptu rap performances although I can’t rap.
When I first clicked onto authonomy towards the end of 2008, I had a book idea and 3 chapters that were gathering e-dust on my hard drive. I’d arrived here following the Facebook updates of a friend, Alexander McNabb, whose book was on the desk at the time.
It took me another month or so to go back to authonomy, venture through the profiles, forums and books and then upload mine. Part of me thought the book would sit there, forever unnoticed, and the other part was convinced that it would shoot up the ranks, worrying that Hotmail wouldn’t be able to handle the thousands of publishing offers that would be pouring through at any minute.
Of course, the experience turned out to be different. As people started reading and commenting on my chapters, I returned the favor and soon enough my presence on authonomy became about the community: reading, offering the best opinion I could and hanging around the forums. Bit by bit, the rankings took a toll on my psyche, and it also became about the race.
Fast forward 7 months, and I found myself with 28 chapters, over 550 comments, multiple edits and a review from a professional editor at Harper Collins. The race meant that I’d put myself out there, told the world that I was an aspiring writer and now I had to prove it. On the other hand, the community had introduced me to amazing people from around the world who shared my hopes and interests and whom I would have never met otherwise. We exchanged helpful tips, supported each other and generally had fun. Like anywhere else, the community had its bullies and tiffs, but I decided to ignore those.
An unexpected thing had also happened: by socializing on authonomy, I had gained insights about social networking and promotion, which are the kind of skills that come in handy for any author wishing to publicize their book.
So I relegated the resentment against my HC review to the back of my mind (the “other part of me” I mentioned above was still waiting for publishing offers), took my 28 chapters and got cracking. I enlisted the help of an editor whom I’d met on a writing course with the Writers Workshop. She was extremely supportive, coaching me through another wave of edits. Eventually, she deemed me ready to send this baby off into the world. I pitched a few western agents with varying levels of interest (my book is chick lit, set mainly in the Middle East) but no representation deals, and then got my break when a columnist friend introduced me to Turning Point, a publisher of English language titles in Lebanon. They were number 1 on my list because I thought my book would appeal to their readership; thankfully they felt the same way and offered me a contract.
My novel, titled Summer Blast, will be launched at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair on March 17th. That by itself is something I couldn’t have dreamed of (the Abu Dhabi fair is one of the biggest in the Middle East and is associated with the Frankfurt Book Fair), but my publishers are also planning a launch party in Dubai, and signings in Beirut and London. As a friend of mine said, “You’ve gotten yourself a little book tour”.
I don’t know how things will go or if anyone other than my mother will buy this novel (actually, she’s expecting a free copy), but the journey to get here has been a whole lot of fun and I’m ready for the next one.
As I write this blog, a copy of the book is sitting on a shelf right in front of me, and no one will understand the exhilaration better than the authonomists!
You can have a look at the book trailer here.