I’m Laila. I grew up in Sweden, but am currently living in Cairo, Egypt (I am half-Egyptian). I’ve been writing all my life, and have finished quite a few plays and 3 middle grade novels. Over the years I’ve partaken in many writing courses (screenwriting and creative writing). Despite my passion for writing, I only recently began to actively seek representation and publication.
I hold a masters degree in English and Comparative Literature. I minored in philosophy, and have worked as an ESL and IGCSE literature teacher. As part of a scholarship program, I also tutored at my university’s writing clinic (The American University in Cairo).
I’m married and have 4 children.
I have a soft spot for fantasy and humour, preferably in combination. I love the Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend. I also enjoy cosy mysteries and coming-of-age tales that pull at your heartstrings. Other books I love include: The Harry Potter series, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson, The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt, The Skylarks’ War by Hillary Mc Kay.
Some classics that I love would include: Goodnight Mr. Tom, Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
Not a bit fan of horror, or stories where the style is too dark and depressing. The subject matter can be grave, but I prefer the delivery to include at least some humour.
Fatima Sultan is a time-traveller. In fact, she comes from one of the most famous time-travelling families in history. But when Fatima’s grandfather, the swashbuckling Captain Farouk, is arrested for keeping an outlawed time-warping weapon, the family’s reputation is in shatters, and worse – they face expulsion from the time-travelling community. As the heir to the Sultan legacy, it is up to Fatima to set things right and restore the Sultans to their former glory.
To accomplish this, Fatima must travel to the Infinitum – a parallel world and time-travel hub, and home to a prestigious time-travelling academy. At the Infinitum’s capital city, the Citadel, thousands of years of Egyptian history are concentrated into one city. Here ex-pat Victorians co-exist with Ottomans, Mamluks and Ancients. It is also the home to an array of mythical creatures such as riddle-obsessed sphinxes, supercilious genies, and naughty, flying carpets. Here Fatima sets out to prepare herself for the upcoming assessments. Whether or not she passes them will decide whether she, and her family, will get to stay on as travellers. But Fatima is ill-prepared and without support. All she has to help her through the try-outs is a magical necklace, sent her by an old friend of her mother’s. But when the necklace merges with her skin and becomes invisible (and produces a genie that makes her cheat on the assessment), Fatima begins to smell trouble. And now the necklace won’t come off! Even worse, it is slowly tightening around her neck! To survive, Fatima must do the only thing that will release her: She must fulfil the wish that has been magicked into the necklace…
Grandpa had vanished again. Fatima knew it the moment she put her ear to the key-hole. She pressed it tight to the cold metal, and listened for the usual sounds of her grandfather in his study – of newspaper pages rustling, of tea being slurped, of backgammon chips rattling, of snoring – but this morning there was only silence.
She sat back on her haunches and drew a pin out of her tangled hair. With it she scratched a dash into the dark wood of the door, across two similar marks. 3 days in a row. That had to be something of a record. She reached up and rattled the handle. It was locked of course, and they wouldn’t open, no matter what she did.
As she leaned back, she could read the large, cardboard sign her grandfather had stapled to the door. It had been there ever since her last attempt to get in, and read: ‘Child, keep out!’ It was written in his swirly, old man’s letters. Underneath there were other words in a tight, neat hand: ‘Or face the consequences…’ They had been added by Mr. Kamel, the butler.
3 days, she thought again. That was a lot of time spent doing ‘paperwork.’ Who were they trying to kid?
She glanced around at the living room with its gilded, dusty furniture. A window stood open and let in the tooting of the Cairo traffic below. Over in a corner the last nanny’s flip flops stood gathering dust. Plates of half-eaten take away sandwiches and empty juice boxes littered the coffee-table in front of the TV. Her tummy rumbled. When Geddo decided to appear again there might be nothing left of her but a skeleton in a pyjama, lying in a heap on the floor. That would make him sorry, all right.
I am currently working on a cosy middle grade mystery, set during the Egyptian revolution.
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