I lived over an hour away from the junior-high school I attended. The time I spent on the bus gave me ample time to read. I think that's when I decided that I wanted to become a writer. Although my parents had a great deal to do with it even before that. I remember a first-reader picture book I read some 600 times because my Dad, a physician and a perfectionist, wanted it to sound impeccable and somehow the 599 other times did not make the cut. I remember the words of that book to this day...It is now part of my dedication for my first picture book. Thanks Dad! Although I must admit the repeated reading gave me an appreciation for words even as early as age five. The words seemed to have a life of their own, especially through the murkiness of a tearful 50th reading. My mother, who has a degree in literature, had her own affinity for language and poetry. She would make my brother and me wake up at six in the morning for 'lessons.' You gotta love that. The early morning classes made me bond with my brother Al. That part was awesome. I confess that much as I writhed in agony over the early lessons then, I learned so much through them that I will forever be indebted to my Mom for the time and energy she spent with me on language skills. As for my brother, he went on to be as far from literature as far can be. He is a surgeon. I'll bet that his nifty conference presentations have a few poetic mentions, but I guarantee that is as far as he took his literature training.
You would think after all that, I would go to college and pursue creative writing. It did not happen that way. I did three years of Pharmacy at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN, even though my freshman English teacher persistently asked me to switch to creative writing. After the third year I realized levigating ointments and filling capsules was not really me and I transferred every last credit and graduated from Butler University with a BA in Journalism. I loved it and life after that. My degree was a combination of science and liberal arts and when I graduated I was able to put all my energy into the creation of a television documentary HEARTBEAT. I did everything for that show from script writing to interviewing, editing and presenting. The show was very successful and opened the way to so many fantastic opportunities. Like traveling to the world's different countries and continents, sometimes for several weeks at a time. I met hundreds of people and interviewed dozens of heads of state, and other dignitaries but in the end it was the nobility of the normal people that kept me grounded and focused.
When I moved to the USA in 1998 with my daughters and husband, we decided that day care was not going to work for us. Previously we had the luck of having our families care for our children in our absence. We did not have that luxury here, but I felt that my journalistic training could be recrafted toward writing for children. I loved children, but upto that point I had not really spent much time raising my own. My husband Rami and I decided to have two more. It remains the best decision of my life. I now have a writing team at home! My daughter, Serena, is one of my first readers. Her analytical mind is amazing. Thank you Serena. Diana, is the computer whiz. I cannot do anything computer-related without running it by my Diana. Sons Samer and Ramzy are my ever-happening sources of stories and lines, and it has been wonderful for my writing to just be immersed in an array of age-groups and carpools and activities. The school of life is certainly unmatched.
My journalistic work included two years of writing a weekly humor column. I did programs about the Museum of the Red Cross in Switzerland, A program for the BBC on life in the desert, A program for BBC radio on Crimes of Honor. HEARTBEAT tackled all the possible 'untouchable' subjects possible. I had a sixty-episode television program called "FOCUS ON ARABIA that highlighted the cultures and traditions in every nook of the Arab world. It was just fascinating. I also worked as part of the PR team for the Noor Al Hussein Foundation that was founded and chaired by HM Queen Noor of Jordan.
Whenever I write, however, I am still that child who read certain books over and over, who grew up in Kuwait. My high school friends from the New English School of Kuwait are forever in my heart as my childhood friends who gave me my initial dose of confidence to pursue my passion. I am in touch with many of them via facebook, to this day.
Currently I am surrounded by some dear creative, talented, wonderful writing friends, Jama Kim Rattigan, Ellen Kazimer, Carol Milligan and Lois Bartlett to whom, I am forever indebted for giving me the focus to continue on this path. Thank you ladies!
My dream is to highlight cultures and traditions of the world that rarely find their way into the news.
I surround myself with children, when I teach art to youngsters and love to talk about cultures when I give interfaith talks.
I live in Fairfax, VA. I have an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.