Zanzibari-Omani singer, dancer, performer, founder of the Million Dollar Band, yoga teacher and now author, Salha Al Busaidy, sits with Nada Abdulaziz from the Emirates LitFest team to discuss her debut novel ‘The End of Summer’.
The book is about 22-year-old Summer, who died recently and who’s soul still lingers near her body, witnessing her family’s reaction to her death, reminiscing about the events and relationships that shaped her life and trying to figure out how it all came to such a sudden end. Salha sheds light on the thought processes behind the book and talks about future adaptations into a screenplay.
Read on to see what Salha has to say:
The book is fiction - but how much of it is inspired from reality?
My nephew died and my niece explained how she found him. She hadn’t heard from him in hours and so went to find him. When he didn’t come out of the bathroom, she looked under the door and saw his leg, she reached for a coin and forced the door open. To her uttermost shock, she saw him sprawled against the bathroom floor, cigarette in hand, or rather ash at that point. When my niece told me about this experience, it stuck with me so much for years. Being a very visual and imaginative person, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and so I decided to write a book about it; only I made my main character a girl. I thought it was easier to write about a girl since I am one. I know about the very specific hurdles Muslim women face or even women in general.
Did you face any opposition from your family given the sensitive topic(s) of the book?
No. I sent it to my elder brother who is quite conservative. At first, he had reservations about the amount of swear words in the book but when he was done reading, he said to me “Salha, don’t change anything! There are so many important messages people need to hear.” It was really fulfilling for me to have that endorsement from my brother. My little brother has also read it, but my niece can’t get past the first few chapters. There are so many quotes from my nephew, and it feels like a kind of springboard into the past for her.
As a creative person, a singer and songwriter, did you find it easy to make the foray into writing?
I wonder if they are linked, like if you are creative in one thing you could be creative in another. I actually have a degree in French and German medieval literature. I’m a dancer, singer and I’ve always loved reading books. I read a lot, a crossover from singing, creating. Even when I'm singing other people's songs, I try to recreate the emotions. I would say it’s been a smooth transition.
When should we expect the next book from Salha Al Busaidy? And what will it be about?
I’m trying to write a screenplay of this book, even if It’s a bit early to say. Maybe something set in America. I’m going to write a couple more books too.