Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Attiya Khan about her young adult novel, Ten Steps To Us, what inspired her, and her creative writing process.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I am Attiya Khan – I am the author of Ten Steps to Us, a young adult novel about a Muslim girl struggling with love, faith and identity. I am a GP ( doctor) by profession in East London and am also involved in the teaching and training of junior doctors. I am a mother of 3 teenage kids. When I’m not working or writing I love cycling and playing badminton.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I have wanted to write a book since I was a little girl at primary school, ever since my English teacher entered my story into a short story competition.
When did you take a step to start writing?
Sidetracked by my medical career and three kids I only came back to writing in my late thirties and then just as a hobby on my days off work. It was just as a form of stress release. I only started to take it seriously after getting some interest from agents and getting longlisted for Undiscovered voices 2020 and getting selected for David Highams open day in 2019.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
All in all it took six years! But I was working and raising three kids so I really didn’t focus on it fully till 2019. Once focused I finished the first draft in a matter of months.
What made you want to write Ten Steps To Us?
I really wanted to write the voice of a female Muslim protagonist and subvert stereoptypes of Muslim people being terrorist and suicide bombers. I wanted to write a BAME voice for young adults as my daughter says she doesn’t see people that look like her in books and I wanted to do something to help change that. I also wanted to write a romance because I love romance!
What were your biggest challenges with writing Ten Steps To Us?
Finding the time to write it between holding down a job and raising a family.
What was your research process for Ten Steps To Us?
I had to do a lot of research about the hijab and the process of conversion to Islam ( which forms the basis of the ten steps) and I had to revisit Regent’s park mosque and the British museum which form scenes in the book. The most fun research though was frequenting various dessert parlours in East London as this also formed a key scene in the book.
How did you plan the structure of Ten Steps To Us?
I was a bit chaotic with this writing the beginning and the end of the book first and then forming a chapter plan for the middle part of the book. The chapter plan really helped me structure the plot and fill in the blanks.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Ten Steps To Us need?
I am part of a really supportive critique group without which I could never have finished this book. Once the book was accepted by the publisher it went through several rounds of edits some of which had very tight deadlines. It was stressful but we got there in the end.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Join a critique group – the support and feedback is invaluable. Writing can be lonely but with the support of the critique group it doesn’t have to be.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I am planning a GP thriller about a doctor with mental health problems working with a murderous colleague!
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I am very proud of my accomplishment. I often compare it to giving birth, painful but so worth it in the end!
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Goodreads: Ten Steps To Us by Attiya Khan | Goodreads
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