Attiya Khan completed a series of creative writing courses at City Lit while working as a GP and raising her 3 children. Her debut novel Ten Steps To Us is being released later this year. We recently caught up with City Lit student Attiya Khan to find out more about her debut novel and her experience studying at City Lit.
What made you decide to study at City Lit?
City Lit had loads of courses that were of interest to me at a time that was convenient, especially with childcare. It’s also very easy to get to, just a two minute walk away from Holborn and Covent Garden station. The teachers that I’ve had at City Lit have all been excellent.
What courses have you studied at City Lit?
I have studied many writing courses at City Lit including Wendy Bradmark’s short story writing course, Penny Joelson’s editing your children’s novel and writing for children and young adults, Sophia Bennett’s writing for children and young adults, Neil Arksey’s writing for children and middle grade and Elizabeth Hawking’s writing for children course.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your writing background?
I am a doctor (GP) and a mother of three kids. Writing for me is an escape from the stresses of everyday life. I have always loved reading and writing since I was a child, and it has been my childhood fantasy to write a book. I started attending the City Lit writing groups on my days off after a long pause from any reading or writing and I was instantly hooked. I got so hooked that I was successfully shortlisted for the David Higham’s open day for underrepresented voices and I also made it to the longlist for Undiscovered Voices 2020.
What exciting writing projects have you got coming up this year?
I am very excited to announce that my debut novel Ten Steps To Us is being released in May 2021. My novel is being published by Hashtag Blak, an imprint of Hashtag Press, who strive to get underrepresented voices published. You can pre-order my book Ten Steps To Us here.
I was also featured on Sophia Bennett’s Prepublished podcast to talk about the book and under-represented voices together with Abiola Bello. I have an interview coming up with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI) and a radio interview with BBC Liverpool.
What role does writing play in your life, and why is it important to you?
Writing started off as a hobby and an escape from the stress of life, something fun to do in my spare time, but now it has become almost an obsession. I need to write or at least think about writing every day. It’s also quite a social thing, I have made some really close friends through the critique groups and through the groups at City Lit, so it is very important to me.
Who are your favourite writers and what stories have inspired you?
My favourite writer of all time is Kazuo Ishiguro, and my favourite book is ‘A Pale View of Hills’. Because of my kids and career I had not read or written anything for almost 10 years. Sometimes I would pick up a book and half finish it. But for some reason I devoured this book in one day. It reignited my love of reading. I also love Elif Shafak, her book ‘Honour’ is a masterpiece. I loved ‘My sister lives on the Mantelpiece’ by Annabelle Pitcher in the YA genre as well as Holly Bourne’s ‘Am I normal yet?’ Both books reminded me of the struggle and angst of being young.
Would you recommend City Lit to others?
I most certainly would, even during the pandemic they have adjusted by delivering courses online. City Lit reminds me that there’s more to life than work and family, there’s a whole world of books, literature and creativity out there to be explored and enjoyed.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
City Lit has changed my life for the better.
Ten Steps To Us
Aisha Rashid is used to being invisible, bullied or playing second fiddle to her best friend Isabelle. So no one is more surprised than her when Darren Brady, the new boy in school, takes an interest. But Aisha is a devout hijab-wearing Muslim and Darren is off limits. Does she follow her heart even if it means losing her own identity? If only there was a way she could keep the boy and her faith.
Maybe there is a way? All it takes are ten steps...