Fatima Saleem is a 15-year-old self-published author residing in Bahrain. She has self-published her mental health poetry book “Words for Bullets” in May 2019 and has since gathered a huge following on social media. Just recently, we had the chance to catch up with here. Scroll down for the full interview!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What motivated you to become a writer?
I am Fatima Saleem, a Grade 10 student of NIS. I self-published my debut poetry book, “Words for Bullets”, last year in May. I am a huge sucker for romance novels and border-line obsessed with my cats!
I have always been an avid reader – a hobby I like to think I inherited from my father. Writing was something I did in secret, afraid of it not being good enough. A lot of different situations pushed me to become a writer, from being bullied in middle school to toxic friendships, they all shaped me into who I am today. Reading also played a huge part because what I didn’t find on a shelf, I had the urge to write.
Would you say that writing is your passion?
Absolutely yes. I genuinely believe that writing is something I was born to do. When I was young, I indulged myself in creative writing and with time that developed into interest in poetry and fiction. Penning down words for me has always been a means of putting myself out there and poetry, in general, has always spoken to my heart and my very soul. If not for writing, I don’t think I would be doing anything else right now.
What was the inspiration behind your debut poetry book, “Words for Bullets”?
For a period before “Words for Bullets” came to life, my mental health was not stable. I would spend days in bed not wanting to do anything. At that point, writing became my savior and poetry my hero. It was the only thing that helped me feel better and move on because I projected my trauma into words. So, when it was time to publish the book, I didn’t really write anything new. A lot of it was just material written from years before that I perfected and polished to add into the book.
The inspiration for “Words for Bullets” stemmed from my pain. With my work, I wanted everyone to know that they are not fighting their battles alone. That it’s okay to sometimes not be okay. In many ways, it healed me and I know it saved many others. For that alone, I will be eternally grateful to it.
What messages do you convey through your creations?
With everything I write, I want people – teenagers in particular, who struggle to get by each day know that being weak is not a weakness. That we are all a little broken, picking up our pieces as we go. What’s not okay is to give up. Everyone is battling demons they don’t talk about; all we can do is be kind. I write because if I manage to touch even one person with my words, I would consider my duty as a writer done.
There is a misconception that young people don’t read literary works anymore – what do you think about this?
I strongly disagree. I know so many incredible young people who love reading and have nothing but good things to say about it. I think reading has been very degraded in the sense that it is called “nerdy” or for “boring” people but I don’t feel that way. Reading for me and I am sure for many others, is an escape from reality. To get lost in your head and go into a whole different world sounds like a dream come true. And you know what they say, once you read you will forever be free.
Will you be releasing a new book anytime soon?
Yes! My next publication is “Unsaid”, a poetry-picture book that focuses on the thoughts and emotions that people don’t express out loud and will be released this year in December. As well as my mafia novel named “Vittorio” about second chances will be out sometime around next year.
Where can our readers check your works?
“Words for Bullets” is in stock at Neo Books and Coffee bookstore in Riffa Views. It’s also available for purchase on Amazon, Book Depository, Walmart and several other online book retailers. All marketplaces are listed on my Goodreads and Instagram. Along with that, I also write on Wattpad and am the proud author of “The Good In Diavolo” which is at 1.08 million reads and accessible to read for free on the app.
What advice can you give to aspiring young writers?
Be original and stand out. Anyone can write but not everyone can write well so be creative, take all criticism into consideration, and don’t be afraid to reach out. There is so much out there waiting to be achieved. I believe in every single one of you so reach for the stars and conquer the whole entire universe.
If you’d like to know more about Fatima, check out her Instagram account where she posts her updates, teasers and more!