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Nizrana Farook on the ‘Soggy Middle’ and Other Writing Challenges

A book that focuses on a character that steals not only the Queen’s jewels but also an elephant? How did Nizrana Farook, the author of The Girl Who Stole an Elephant,  come up with the idea for such a book?

Read the Q & A below and find out:


  1. What inspired you to write the book?

I’m not quite sure exactly how the inspiration for this book came. All I know is that I was writing a piece for a task on my MA and it turned out to be the first chapter of my book. It was only ever intended to be a short piece, but I was excited by the protagonist and setting and I just grew the story from there.


  1. Are there any characters that you can relate with from the book?

I’d like to say it’s Chaya, the protagonist, but in reality I’m probably more Nour than her. Her experience of leeches in the jungle was very much mine!


  1. How did you choose these characters?

Chaya came to me fully formed. I knew she was a thief but I had to work out her motivation for being one. I wanted her to have a friend who was a calming influence on her, so that’s how Neel came about. I created Nour because I felt that there needed to be someone who was an outsider to that world, so the reader could see the world and have some of their questions answered through her.


  1. Were the characters inspired by some people in your life?

Not really. I have taken bits from people I know and cobbled them together to form different characters, but no one is based fully on anyone.


  1. When did you start writing the book?

I wrote the first words in December 2016. So it took three years exactly to go from putting pen to paper (or fingers to laptop in this case) to the book being available in shops in the UK. It was a super speedy roller coaster of a ride – from finishing the manuscript to finding an agent and getting a publishing deal and then editing the book to publication.


  1. Were there any challenges?

Plenty! I started writing the book without any plan. I simply wrote the most exciting story I could think of without worrying about where it was going. At some point I had to stop and think it out. So the “soggy middle” of the book was the hardest part of all. The editing threw up many challenges, but thanks to my lovely editor Kirsty Stansfield, we got there in the end.


  1. Are you a dog person or cat person?



  1. Pineapple on a pizza. Yes or No?

Definitely yes.

Will stealing the Queen’s jewels be the beginning or the end of everything for Chaya and her gang? Check out The Girl Who Stole an Elephant to find out!


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