Firstly, thank you to Readers Magnet and the Authors Lounge for the opportunity to introduce myself. My creative writing journey started with a Christmas gift for a writing competition, NYC Midnight.
The feedback from the judges was positive and they suggested my story ‘had a voice’ and that I should continue my journey. Although I didn’t win the competition, I did make the decision to write my first book Taking The Bandage. The title, inspired by my grandson Malachi. To date I have written four books. The second book is a collection of four short stories called The Wedding Dress which includes other stories;
The Chocolate Box Reunion, The Little Red Dress, and Pink Goggles. My third book Look Both Ways was my first delve into the world of adult Mystery/Drama fiction. The inspiration for the story came from observations in and around my local neighbourhood, during the recent pandemic lockdown. It’s a fictional tale that follows the story of an Omani woman from Muscat, who overcomes many unforeseen obstacles to secure a new life for herself and her children. Pitting her loyalties against the people she loves the most, her Mother and sister Leila, she is given no choice but to leave her family network behind.
Shortly after her arranged marriage Salma finds herself thousands of miles away in Plymouth with her coercive, lazy, deceitful husband Malik and three young children. Her heritage dictates that she must be subservient to his needs and wishes at all times. But Salma plans to change this stance, and a chance meeting in a Charity shop changes everything. Salma secures a friendship that slowly restores her faith in human kind. Soon she discovers her new friend has everything, a smart home, holidays abroad, an opulent lifestyle, how can she compete? Disaster strikes when Salma is left with next to nothing after a fire destroys her new home just after her arrival. Strong and determined she fights back, and dreams of the day when she can be a person in her own right. After peeling away the emotional layers and enduring several setbacks she finally secures an editorial job, learns to drive a car, and finds love again. The title reflects a common notion that most people do not look both ways, are quick to judge, and often base their judgements on falsehoods.
The target audience for this book would be mainly women as the themes running through the book can be applied to many strands of female life across different cultures. I’m hoping the reader will find the story uplifting as the story progresses, and root for Salma to succeed. I wanted to highlight the dichotomy that perhaps many women have found themselves, whilst trying to portray the subject matter in a culturally sensitive manner. Future plans for this novel would be converting it to an audible platform. I belong to The Portsmouth Authors Collective, formed by a group of local authors who joined forces to encourage and promote their books, all at various stages of the writing process.
We take part in monthly Open Mic sessions with book readings, sharing skills, teaching sessions with marketing and publishing ideas. The collective attends local book festivals and markets to sell and promote the books. Our local Radio Victory has been featuring books from the collective on their weekly bookclub slot. Currently I’m working with a publisher and in the process of proof editing my fourth manuscript ready for publication and due for release in spring 2024.
My current social media handles are:
Twitter – @febtasti20
Instagram – fi_ballard
Facebook – Fi Ballard
Website – www.ballardsbookshelf.com