Wednesday, November 8, 2017

An Author's Purpose



Award-winning author Hidayah Amin writes with a purpose: to produce quality books that highlight the social causes she supports. And although she won several awards, she believes it's more important that her books leave a lasting impression on her readers.

One can't  write stories in a short time period and expect them to be of a publishable standard. Even beloved author Mem Fox spends a few months deliberating on her plots and word choices for each of her books. With that in mind, Hidayah takes her time with each book she produces. 

As an author and publisher, she is ultra-meticulous with all of her book projects. She checks everything from the publication's text and illustrations down to the binding and the type of paper used.

Now,  this process is often a costly endeavor; however, Hidayah believes that if one pursues a publishing career, one cannot skimp on cost. She wants to give her readers a memorable and satisfying reading experience.

Hidayah's book Hang Nadim and the Garfish was published in braille for the visually impaired. Each publication is followed by a book launch, complete with informative discussions, entertainment, and food. The proceeds from the sales of her books often go to charity.

Her latest venture is the bilingual I am Unique series, inspired by a pair of real-life siblings with special needs. Although it's the 21st century, many people misjudge and misunderstand special needs children. Hidayah hopes that her books will change that perception.

The first book in the I am Unique series is "My Name is Nadia. I have Autism" by Huda Patel is already headed to a second print-run. And the recently launched follow-up, "My Name is Mikhail. I have Cerebral Palsy" by Hidayah Amin, published with the support of the National Arts Council, looks set to follow suit.

Like the subjects of her books, the outspoken Hidayah is often misjudged and misunderstood. She has strong views on how to improve the children's literary scene here and they are not without merit. Hidayah's not one to sit around for change; she wants to affect change, and she's trying to do just that with her books. Before I met her I had a vastly different opinion of her. But that just proves you should never judge a book by its over, or listen to other people's opinions. They can be quite misleading. Haters may hate, but this author just shakes it off.
Now I attended the "My name is Mikhail. I have Cerebral Palsy"  launch at the Singapore Writers  Festival recently. And it's needless to say it was a uniquely Hidayah Book launch. She was dressed in a strange orange get up, which I initially assumed was because all her clothes were in the laundry and this was the only clean outfit she had around. I was mistaken. She was dressed as Jaina Solo, an X-Wing pilot, and Han Solo's daughter. Read on and you'll find out why.

The guest list included the students from Cerebral Palsy Alliance School and their friends from Zhangde School, and representatives from several charities.  
The children listened with rapt attention as Hidayah introduced Suhana, a lady who suffers from cerebral palsy, who supports her elderly parents by working as an administrative assistant and by baking brownies to supplement her income. What an inspiration!
Then there was a special surprise for all of the guests: visitors from a long, long time ago and from a galaxy far, far away arrived. The children squealed with excitement when Stormtroopers from the 501st Star Wars Garrison and the Jedi Knights of the Cathar Outpost Rebel Legion joined forces to distribute goodie bags (kindly donated by Hidayah's supporters) to the children. Hidayah had secretly invited the members of the Star Wars groups to the launch as she knew that the kids would be thrilled to see them, and she was absolutely right! Everyone wanted selfies!

Then it was story time. An emotional Hidayah read her book aloud.  She later explained the little boy, Mikhail, on whom the book was based had suffered a seizure the previous night. He should have been there for the launch but under the circumstances it was impossible. Mikhail's grandmother, however, was there to graciously lend her support.
The launch concluded with Hidayah and the Stormtroopers giving out a couple of hundred copies of the book to CPAS and the various organizations there. And judging by the reaction of the children, it was an intergalactic hit!

To Hidayah the recognition, the awards, the bouquets, and the accolades of being an author may be nice, but the ultimate reward is being able to touch the hearts of her readers.  I can tell you, will all certainty, everyone at the launch was definitely touched.

Please go and buy a copy today. I did! 

Congratulations, Hidayah on a great job!


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