I am pleased to introduce author Elizabeth Lymer as todays Saturday Spotlight. Elizabeth is an established author of childrens stories and nursery rhymes.
Firstly, JazakAllah Khair for agreeing to take part in my Saturday Spotlight feature.
BarakAllahfeekum. Thanks for having me 🙂
1. Please do introduce yourself
I’m a passionate reader of children’s books with my young children whom I am home educating in Canterbury, UK. I have a thriving inner child which relishes stories about families, animals, and connecting with Allah SWT. When I visit my parents, I love to walk my imagination in the woods and Welsh country lanes where I grew up.
I enjoy sharing stories as interactive events and memorable, transformative performances – a delight I discovered during my Drama BA, and developed through training as a Theatre of the Oppressed Practitioner, and as a Storyteller at the fantasitc Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh, masha’Allah. I recently had fun storytelling at the IHRC Bookshop to launch Hector Hectricity and the Missing Socks, alhamdulilllah. (Hence the ‘missing socks’ on my head!)
Over the past five years, I have written children’s stories and nursery rhymes prolifically. I sometimes venture out of my busy household to tell or read stories and sing rhymes at friends’ homes, the park, toddler group, and nursery – with groups of excellent helper children, some toy animals, and books.
2. And please do introduce your business, Aneesa Books and let us know some of the books available.
This was what led me to the IHRC Bookshop. Hector Hectiricty and the Missing Socks was my second book through Aneesa Books. The story centres around a mother who is convinced she’s moved into a house with a sock monster! We had fun throwing socks in the air every time I mentioned the word ‘hectic’.
The first Aneesa Books publication is quite different – it’s a baby book for introducing dhikr/remembrance of Allah SWT. I illustrated that one and, in so doing, gained enormous repsect for the illustration process and those who succeed in it over and over, masha’Allah.
At the moment, Aneesa Books is more of a catalyst for me and illustrators to collaorate than it is a business. I am at the beginning of producing children’s books, insha’Allah, and, as in childhood, I am starting with play as my work and inviting families to join me 🙂
3. Have you always enjoyed writing and wanted to be an author?
In short, yes. During my teenage years, I explored different kinds of writing and didn’t know what I wanted to do, mainly because I didn’t believe in myself. I preferred swapping around styles, especially because I found the work of developing an art highly pressurised.
Nowadays I embrace the challenge of improving my craft – I don’t imagine I’ll get to a point I’ll have to maintain; I am happy to be always learning. I love writing and storytelling, alhamdulillah.
4. What was your first book that was published and when was it published?
My first book is currently out of print. It’s called Islamic Nursery Rhymes and was published in July 2013 by Greenbird Books.
5. Did you find it difficult to get your book published? Were there many obstacles? If so how did you overcome them?
Alhamdulillah, Greenbird Books accepted my manuscript and published the book quickly. It wasn’t the first publisher I had submitted my work to, however…. There is a certain publisher I started with and I’ve been receiving rejections from them for five years. I have learned enormously from those rejections. And I’m not giving up yet insha’Allah 🙂
Alhamdulillah, I am trying to work for the sake of Allah SWT so I’ve found blessings in every obstacle more than I’ve necessarily ‘overcome’ them. There are times when I would like my earnings to exceed my investments into publishing, but this life is short, and childhood is even shorter, so I can’t complain that I’ve been blessed with writing to support young Muslim children.
6. What inspired you to write Islamic themed books?
I began writing for my own children before I braved the idea of sharing rhymes and stories with Muslim children more widely. My inner child is still a little sore from my lack of religious reading material to support me when I was growing up, and so I’m eager to ease the journey for Muslim children today insha’Allah. Insha’Allah, in a few years (or perhaps months) I hope to begin writing chapter books for Muslim children aged eight and over.
7. If you had to choose 3 of your favourite books which ones would you choose?
Gosh, that’s a hard question. I go through phases of reading the same books over and over for my children and I love the books as part of the family experiences. Then there are times when I choose the books that get repeated on demand for months. These are some of my favourites that have remained as such for a long time….
No More Monsters by Emilia Finnamore Saeed and Fatima De Vaux Davies
Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales
Whoosh Around the Mulberry Bush by Jan Pormerod and Lindsay Gardiner
8. Any new books due to be released soon? Your future plans?
Insha’Allah, artist-illustrator Brooke Alam and I will release a book called Angels and Rainbows in time for Ramadan this year. It’s an early morning story about a girl who wakes in the dark feeling lonely – her father rises for salah and cheers her up by helping her feel surrounded by love, whether or not she can see the light of day.
I have also got several more picture book collaborations under way with illustrators alhamdulillah.
9. Any tips for any of my readers who may be thinking to write a book?
I always recommend you pray continually, read loads of books, research the craft of writing for your genre, and do lots of writing. If we’re talking about your first moves to fulfil this dream, insha’Allah I’d say make istikhara and consult with your trusted family/friends; get a copy of the Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, read parts of it, and act upon the advice (like joining a writing course); then don’t give up making intention to please Allah SWT through your reading, writing, and submitting work to be considered for publication. Actually, I go through these ‘first moves’ frequently. Don’t give up 🙂
JazakAllahkhayr for having me on Muslim Mummy 🙂
Rhymes and Stories
JazakAllah Khair to sister Elizabeth for taking the time out to answer my questions; and I absolutely love the picture of the socks on the head!! Being fans of books we look forward to seeing her future publications in sha Allah.
If you have a business/products related to Muslim Parenting then please do get in touch if you are interested in being featured.