1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
I was born in Ajmer, Rajasthan, and saw at close quarters how women’s lives were in traditional
Hindu and Muslim cultures, having interacted with many families and seen many villages. I
came across many women’s issues, which moved me. I then moved to England at a young age
and saw the socially liberated society where they were making efforts to move up the chain, so
to speak. That being said, I noticed that both sides were suffering in different ways and came to realize that society has been unfair to our mothers, sisters, daughters and partners for
centuries. This set my mind up to write a book highlighting the issues faced by women from
various cultures and arguing for the advancement of women in all societies.
2) What inspired you to write your book?
I wanted to help young women find their voices and power, and to make the most for
themselves – not for their society. So many young women now are the living legacies of strong
women who came before them, able to live their lives and enjoy their freedoms and identities
because of the sacrifices made by their grandmothers.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
This book is written for anyone with daughters, granddaughters or young women in their lives,
who want the very best for them and all the daughters who follow. I have two beautiful
daughters of my own and want to make sure that they know that they are just as important as
anyone else – regardless of their gender, race, culture, religion or creed. We are all humans and
must support one another.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
I would hope that my daughters and future granddaughters get to live in a society that fully
respects women; a society in which they would not have to face the same injustices and lead
their lives in fear of what could happen to them just because of their gender. We have certainly
made progress as a society but there is still such a long way to go to ensure that all our
granddaughters live without fear of men and are not held back to reach their full potential.
Since my childhood, I read about the Bengal famine of 1943 which no one covered – or at least
not as much as I have done in this book. The Holocaust was something that I was aware of from
an early age in India. I think that I was six when I saw a documentary about Adolf Hitler and
then, as I grew up, I read about it several times. I was also lucky to have a number of amazing
Jewish friends and noticed many similarities within our cultures. Finally, Notting Hill was on my
way to school when we moved to London, so it was also something close to my heart and I saw
first-hand the discrimination against black people, in particular.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and
One of my favourite characters is Ingrid. The strength and courage that she showed in helping
Helga’s family, when no one else would, is so inspirational. It is unimaginable to think about
what it must have taken to defy the law and society to do what is morally right. I would ask her
how she found the courage to stand up to a regime alone and why she showed such courage
and morality when so few did.
Many people talk about moral courage, but it is not always easy to do the right thing or to even
know what the right thing is. Sometimes, it is easiest to do nothing. Perhaps if more people
demonstrated such qualities, we would have more tolerance and acceptance for those around
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
I have found LinkedIn to be particularly effective at sparking interesting debates around these
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Just start to write because it is the hardest thing to get words on paper. Keep re-reading your
work and re-working your ideas and it will work out. You must also write from the heart and let it flow naturally, making sure that historical events are duly cited if they are to be included.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
Yes, I have another book planned and am extremely excited to share more details when the
time is right!
About the Author
Shaheen Chishti is an Indian-British author, world peace advocate and thought leader. Shaheen is a member of the London Literary Society and Muslim-Jewish Forum in London. He is also the founder of the Jewish Islamic International Peace Society. Shaheen’s writings – fiction and non-fiction – primarily focus on the upliftment of women and the emancipation of Muslim women in particular. He believes that the “empowerment of women is at the root of Muslin teaching”. An ardent believer in the Sufi philosophy of “Love towards all, malice towards none”, Shaheen endeavours to promote the message of peace and solidarity of the Chishti Order of Sufism. Shaheen was born into the Syed Chishti family in India which traces its ancestry directly to Hazrat Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Holy Prophet.