Today I recieved a wonderful review of my new book, Nightingale, from C.spot reviews. Click here to see the review. In the wake of this I thought it might be a good idea to give people a little insight behind the reason why I choose to write this book, as that does seem to be the general question when I talk to anyone about Nightingale. Why write a story like this? Why write about a Muslim girl falling in love with a white girl? Why do I think I’m qualified to write this story when I’m not Muslim and haven’t been in a relationship with a Muslim girl? Why write a story that has so much darkness to it? Why write this story?
Nightingale is the story of Hazaar and Charlie. How they fall in love, how they are torn apart, and how their lives are forever changed by the past they shared together. It’s the story of them trying to move on and being unable to forget the beauty of the love they shared, and their struggle, their fight—for their lives, their souls, and for each other.
But there is more to it than that. You knew that, right?
Hazaar is a young woman who grows up in a British Muslim family, complete with an obnoxious younger brother, and all the expectations that come with being a girl in her culture. An arranged marriage is the norm for her family and she is well aware that her studies are all that lie between her and what she considers her life long prison sentence. She feels time is running out and on one hand she wants nothing more than to enjoy the last moments of her freedom—however long or short that may be. And on the other, she is looking for the woman, the relationship, the love, that will give her the strength, courage, and reason to turn her back on her religion, her family, her culture, and her own faith. Because that is what choosing her heart will cost her…if she manages to keep her life.
Which brings me back to that question. Why?
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that myself. Why did I have to write this story? Because it wasn’t so much about the desire to write it, as the need to write it. This story has burned holes in soul for the past six or seven years. It never felt quite right. Parts of the story took time to fit together correctly. Parts of the characters need chance to grow—no, that’s not quite right. I needed to grow enough to be able to tell the story of these characters. But that doesn’t answer the question as to why I needed to tell this story.
It’s simple really.
I want you to think.
I want everyone to think…but I’ll do this one person at a time.
There is a bias in Western culture that the Islamic religion is ‘wrong’, and ‘inhumane’. That is not a view I share, and I hope it isn’t the view you will take away from the story if you read it. Personally, I think every religion has a lot to answer for, are all capable of being ‘inhumane’, and at some point in their history, they all have been. They’ve been corrupted and twisted by the few with power who held religion up and used it as a means of controlling a mass of uneducated, often illiterate, and terrified people who knew no better than to trust those who told them they knew better, and instead served only to further their own agenda’s and cushion their own coiffeurs. And in my opinion…they still do. Do I think all religions are wrong? No. I think the idea behind most religions, the ideal of equality, peace, love, and treating people with respect, is a wonderful thing. But these ideals are lost in the interpretation of those people in power. This is the aspect that I think is wrong and nothing corrupts the idea that a religion is based upon like power does. To retain power, the mass population is kept terrified, in fear for their immortal souls, uneducated, and illiterate. To maintain power.
Does that mean that I think religion should be scrapped? No. Not at all. I think everyone should be educated, taught to read, and allowed to make up their own minds about what they want to believe, follow, or not as the case may be. That is the only way to achieve equality, peace, and respect.
Let me say that again so that it really has the chance to see the light of day.
I think everyone—women, men, and children—should be educated, taught to read, and allowed to make up their own minds about what they want to believe.
I think everyone should be able to read any book they chose to. Because it is only education that breeds awareness of the greater world. Awareness breeds empathy and compassion…the stepping stones to peace.
And now I’m talking like Yoda, so I’ll step off my high horse and back to my cave, start retreating, I shall. 😉
Of course this is just my opinion and you are free to disagree with me as much as you wish. After all we have the freedom and the right to do just that.
Millions of people all over the world don’t.
And that’s why I had to write this story.