Creator Corner: Author and illustrator Farida Zaman

Welcome to Creator Corner! Each month we interview the creators of one of our recent books. Today we’re talking to Aliya’s Secret author and illustrator Farida Zaman.


Owlkids Books: How and why did you begin writing and illustrating children’s books?

Farida Zaman: I’ve been illustrating children’s books since graduating from Art School in the UK. I have always been a visual storyteller. I love reading and collecting picture books, and can take a picture book story and add more dimension and detail thorough my illustrations.

Writing my own picture books came much later in my career. I started taking writing workshops and courses and would write or revise my stories whenever I had a break from my illustration projects. My big break happened when I joined a writer’s group. I workshopped my manuscripts with my group, and vice versa. Meeting with them regularly keeps me motivated and inspired to keep writing. I am proud of the fact that I didn’t give up, and finally it happened—I became an author too! Takeaway: never give up on your dreams!

OKB: What themes or topics do you enjoy exploring in your work?

FZ: My themes so far have been based on my cultural background and heritage. Many of my stories are based on my childhood.

OKB: What was the inspiration for this book?

FZ: The inspiration for my book was based on my own experience trying to fast as a child and getting so hungry that I broke it by grabbing a pastry and took a huge bite out of it! My mom showed me other ways that I could participate in the month of Ramadan by helping the less fortunate.

OKB: What was the most enjoyable part of bringing this story to life? What was the most challenging part of the process?

FZ: The most enjoyable part of this book was helping Aliya solve her problem of finding a way to partake in the holiday. The challenge was to figure out this very solution and find a way to tell it, so it did not sound too “preachy.”


OKB: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

FZ: I hope readers get an understanding about Ramadan and the cultural nuances. I hope that Muslim children know that they are not expected to fast when they are so young, and there are so many other ways to feel included by helping someone less fortunate.

OKB: What’s a fun fact people may not know about you?


  • I have a daily practice of writing in a journal as far back as I can remember
  • I love dancing to my favorite tunes
  • Bright colors make me happy
  • I love researching different cultures, especially when I travel
  • I love ice cream on a waffle cone, and double fudge chocolate cake




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