“Nothing lends itself to as much drama as struggle between people who love each other. I also like writing about challenges and how people deal with them," said Raashida Khan, author of Mirror Cracked. Picture: PICASA

Winner of the Minara Aziz Hassim Literary Award for her debut novel, ‘Mirror Cracked’, Raashida Khan took a leap of faith, pursuing a career in writing and completing her first novel at 49. 
 
Born in Durban, which she still regards as her favourite city, Khan, 49, resides in Johannesburg. She attended Durban Girls Secondary School and studied at UKZN graduating in 1989 (BA) and 1991 (Hons) in Economic History.
 
Married for 22 years, with two sons, Khan currently works as a Content Creator, which entails writing for brochures, websites, annual reports, advertising, as well as editing and proofreading. “I also have a passion for encouraging reading and writing, especially among the youth and work with a school to workshop budding authors. I am called ‘Friend of the Nizamiye School Library.’”
 
Quite the tomboy growing up, Khan described herself as being naughty, and not very interested in school work, although she loved being in school, engaging with friends and teachers. “My matric biology teacher told me once that I asked questions that made her think. I loved reading, but also loved interacting with people of all ages. If I wasn't reading, I was chatting.”
 
Her father was an avid reader with a marvellous book collection. “My father was a reader and had a thirst for knowledge. He had books on everything - novels, poetry, non-fiction titles on travel, learning about his interests, history.” It’s no wonder that Khan’s dream job growing up was to be a writer. 
 
Khan almost pursued a career in journalism at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, where she was awarded a scholarship and was given digs at a senior residence. “At the last minute, though, my mom felt I should study at home and so I enrolled at UKZN and initially pursued my second choice: Law. While still doing my undergraduate degree, I realised I didn't enjoy law and so continued with an Honours in my second major: Economic History.”
 
After forgetting about writing for a few years, she began working at NGOs in youth development and education organisations as a Project Manager. “This was rewarding and fulfilling experience,” said Khan.
 
With the longing to put her ideas to rest on paper growing, at age 46, Khan decided it was now or never. “Writing this book was a long time coming. I've always said I wanted to write, but never actually did. About three years ago, I realised that if I didn't start then, I probably never would. So, I finally got started.”
 
A  central theme in ‘Mirror Cracked’ is the breakdown of a marriage, with the inspiration behind broaching such serious topics being Khan’s delight for pulse-racing drama. “Nothing lends itself to as much drama as struggle between people who love each other. I also like writing about challenges and how people deal with them, because it's only when we have to reach within ourselves to find strength to deal with hardship, do we realise how strong we are. Challenges grow and develop people. I love observing and writing about how people adapt; in the long run, always for the better.”
 
Although the book genre is 'Women's Fiction', both men and women readers will identify with the writing and characters. “There are three main characters, two of whom are men. To date, the primary audience has been Indian and Muslim women but others who have read say that they could easily identify with the characters and story. While it set in a Muslim family, it will appeal to all cultures and race groups,” said Khan.
 
As a full time writer, the biggest hurdle has been financing her passion. “Writing, editing, printing and publishing novels all cost money. Then you have to consider the marketing, social media and distribution, all of which self-published authors have to fund themselves. Without an income-generating job, this is restricted. It is also very  time-consuming.”
 
Currently writing the sequel to 'Mirror Cracked' called 'Fragrance of Forgiveness', Khan already has ideas brewing to fuel the next few novels. “My third novel is in the second round of editing, and I have story ideas for two more novels. I also would love to write an anthology of short stories. There is just too little time.”