Salma Hussain grew up in the UAE and immigrated to Canada when she was 13 years old. Her short stories and poems have been published in filling Station, West Coast Line, Other Voices, and in the anthology Homebound: Muslim Women Poetry Collection (Outburst Press).

She is a graduate of the Humber Summer Writing Workshop and won the International Festival of Authors’ Lit Jam short story competition (2018). She was also a mentee in the Diaspora Dialogues long form mentorship program last year.

Q&A with Author Salma Hussain

Where do you find the inspiration for your books?

I am interested in stories that make me look at the world (and our place in it) in new and different ways . To get to a place of inspiration, I begin with the unresolved questions in my own mind and heart. 

What were your favourite books when you were a kid? As a young reader, did you see yourself in the books you read?

SO many favorites! As a child, I went to English-medium schools and had the opportunity to read widely and eclectically within British English literature. There was a set of abridged Dickens novels that were gifted by a beloved aunt which my sisters and I read cover to cover multiple times! I must of course mention the Adrian Mole series (a British classic) which I also loved. 

I only ever remember reading one children’s book in my own mother tongue  (Urdu), again a gift from a family member. I have unfortunately forgotten the name but it was about a young boy on an adventure to retrieve stolen money and it was captivating and a complete page-turner down to the very last word.

As a young reader, I always identified with the characters I read about, but did these characters mirror my geographical, cultural and/or religious identities and realities? No, they did not. I am very happy to see this changing, but we still have a long way to go! We have so much to learn and share from each other.

What’s the most surprising thing you have learned when creating your books?

The most surprising (and satisfying, thrilling, and humbling thing) is when a reader tells you that they feel validated by the world(s) you’ve created on paper.

What is a challenge you have faced as a writer?

The biggest challenge has been balancing the long stretches of solitude needed for writing while maintaining friendships and relationships that bring joy and meaning to my life outside of writing.

 What advice do you have for kids who are interested in writing? 

Create the book you long to read!