After 20 years in PR I decided it was time to...just write. Now, I am a published, award-winning author, developmental book editor, author mentor and partner publisher (www.ocpublishing.ca). I post thoughts on my writer's journey and share my experiences as an author, editor and publisher and highlight the books of authors I am publishing. I welcome guest bloggers and do author interviews. Enjoy my blog and feel free to comment.
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Interview with Montaha Hidefi, author of Groping for Truth - My Uphill Struggle for Respect
In December of 2018, I published a #metoo inspired memoir that re-caps the staggering story of sexual harassment and violence that the author, Montaha Hidefi, had endured throughout her life. The abuse began at the hands of her mother and then followed her around the globe from Venezuela, where she was born of Syrian immigrant parents, to Syria, where she lived as a teenager, then in adulthood in The United Arab Emirates, The Netherlands and Canada. We published on December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. As spring finally arrives, bringing with it new beginnings and fresh starts, I thought it was timely to share the full interview the author did leading up to the launch of her book.
did you decide to write about your past experiences?
I was inspired
by the #metoo movement and all the women that came forward and spoke in public
about their experiences. My husband was paramount with the support he provided.
Also, all my friends that I spoke to about writing the book were supportive and
thought it was an act of bravery to step forward and talk about a past that was
long buried, especially because my personality does not reflect the abuse I
went through in my childhood and later.
message do you want readers to take away from your book?
shame and disappointments are nothing but pebbles and nails on the highway towards
success. Every time we are in distress, every time the nails or pebbles might
cause a flat tire, we ought to pause and then use that emotion as fuel to restart
our engines and keep going forward without letting the past stop us. I used the past
as a propellant to move forward.
do you feel about the heightened awareness of sexual abuse and harassment due
to the #metoo movement?
movement is one of the most powerful consequences of using social media for a
good cause. It allowed many women and men to come forward and
denounce the perpetrators. As a consequence, we have seen many famous people
pay for what they have done and we saw how our current society is ready to hear
our stories and believe that abuse, in any form, especially against women, is
no longer acceptable.
are you dealing with the emotional impact of delving into the memory of these
experiences after so many years?
It has been a
roller coaster of all types of emotions. There were times when I could not
continue writing or did not even want to remember the details of the events. There are
stories in the book that made me cry throughout the process of writing and even
during the revisions. For instance, the story where my mother almost stabbed me
to death still affects me in profound ways, especially when I think that my
father saved my life. He passed away during the process of revising the
chapter. It was and still is very painful to go through it all, but I allow
myself to cry and let my tears cleanse my soul. I am not scared of the memories
would you advise someone who has buried similar experiences to do?
It’s hard for
someone who lived for a long time, hiding the shame the abuse has inflicted them
with, to open up and disclose the events and emotions that they tried to bury
for so long.This is because of fear of being stigmatizing by society. We fear that
people will not believe us, or if they did believe us, we fear that they will
say that we have brought this upon ourselves. And we also fear the ridicule of a society that would say, “If that where true, why did you wait so long to
disclose this? Why didn’t you speak up and denounced the abuser then and there?”
We have seen this happening recently with Dr Ford and her allegations
about judge Kavanaugh. Not to mention that abusers would usually deny any wrong doing. So, there are
many factors that are preventing people like me from coming forward and speaking
about their stories of abuse.
writing about my experiences, I found that the process of remembering the
events, although it was painful, it was also therapeutic. I found consolation
in relieving myself of the secret. Although I know there might be consequences as
I disclosed real names of people that affected me in my life, I feel that the
time is right now to speak up as more people are ready to listen and believe the
abused. This wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the #metoo movement and
what unfolded after it.
a first-time author, how did you find the writing process?
This is the
first time I authored a book from A to Z, however, not the first time I am
published. The only difference in writing a chapter or an article and writing a
complete book is the commitment required to finish the book. Because I had to
write about painful stories, there were many times when I thought I would stop
and forget about writing about such topics that were consuming my emotions and
energy. However, the
end justified the means. I followed the process I always followed in my life,
every time there is a difficulty, I used it to propel me forward and reach my goal.
you working on a second book? If so, what is it about?
Now that I wrote
about the adverse emotions in my life, my next book project is about the people
that influenced my life whether in a positive or negative way.
There are so many
people that come and go into our lives, each of them leaves a trace. I wonder,
if this person didn’t appear in my life and said what she said or did what she
did, how would my life have turned out?
I want to
recognize the people that appeared in my life and, through their behaviours,
allowed me to end up where I am today.
Too many adverbs and clichés in your writing? I've got just the fix for you. by Jessica Bell Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don’t tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada ... it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still do sometimes. It’s hard enough to get the words on the page, let alone consider how to put them there. In Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird , she says that in order not to be overwhelmed, a writer needs to focus on short assignments. She refers to the one-inch picture frame on her desk and how that little picture frame reminds her to focus on bite-sized pieces of the whole story. Basically, if you focus on one small thing at a time, the story will eventually come together to create a whole. I believe the same applies to learning the craft of writing. If writers focus on one aspect of the craft at a time, t
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