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Episode Four: How a Guided Writer With a Mission Became a Massive Best Seller with Laila Ibrahim

How do you respond to a Guided Call?

Laila Ibrahim is a spiritually guided, best-selling novelist. Her books arrive in magical flashes of insight – and each has a purpose of spreading compassion, and create bridges where there have been divides.

It took seven years to write her first novel, but now – five years after the initial publication – she sells 8,000 to 60,000 copies per month. (Yes, you read that right.)

When Laila got the idea for her first novel, she was a preschool teacher who had never even thought of writing a book. I interview her about the writing of all her books, including

Yellow Crocus, a novel that begins in the antebellum South just before the Civil War.

In the book, a white mother gives birth to a privileged child. The baby is nursed by an enslaved black wet nurse who becomes the most important person in the child’s life as she grows up. It’s a powerful story to read in these turbulent times, and a serious look into the inhumane customs and laws that shaped American history.

Also, Laila reflects on her most recent book, Living Right, about a Christian family who attempts conversion therapy for their suicidal son, and the vision that informed this book.

Her story a fascinating example of how one person can respond seriously to a guided call … and create a major difference in the lives of many, many people with the gift of writing.

Listen to our conversation, and you’ll hear about:

  • The remarkable story of how the book ‘found’ her … and became her life purpose
  • How she came to publish the book herself
  • How African-Americans and white Americans both react to the book
  • How Laila used her spiritual guidance to create a book with a larger social mission
  • How she fought through her self-doubt around the project again and again
  • The larger, spiritual purpose of Yellow Crocus
  • The story behind her most recent book, Living Right

For more information:

Won’t you please let us know in a review on iTunes how you liked this episode? Thanks so very much! 

Transcript of Interview with Laila

Suzanne: This is Before the Afterlife, all about healing, spiritual growth and how to be happy before you go. I’m your host, Suzanne Falter. We are coming to you from Oakland, California, and points beyond.

The time was 1995, I’d been married for 7 years and had recently given birth to a son. Professionally, though, I was lost. There was something I was supposed to be doing besides writing ads and caring for my young family. But what was it? Well, the answer arrived in unlikely whoosh one day while I was sitting at my computer. I was trying to craft something, maybe an article for people like me who knew there was some creative something that they were to pursue in their off hours. Suddenly, I began to write and write and write and when I finally stopped writing and every single waking hour I had, two weeks had passed and I had written a little book called, How Much Joy Can You Stand. In it was everything that I personally needed to know about how to keep plugging away at this persistent dream. In spite of the tedious jobs and the personal doubts and the new baby I had on my hands, the book had been given to me like a great glowing, Divine dream and all I knew is I needed to nurture it and publish it with loving care, just like my little baby… And it would be kind right back to me if I did that and earn me plenty of money, as well as feed many readers. For the next two years, I wrote that book like a persistent horse. On my lunch hours, I combed bookstores looking for agent referrals or I’d stand in line in mid-Manhattan’s post offices to mail out yet another manuscript. I was going to get this thing out there if it’s the last thing act of my life. So I made calls, I wrote letters, I prayed, I visualized, I sweated and in the end,  I racked up 28 rejection letters from major publishers. But then one day, a small press accepted it unbeknownst to me and the editor who liked it passed it on to them. In short order, they got a Book of the Month deal and suddenly, the path of the book began to shift. But still, I kept thinking there was something even bigger that was supposed to happen. My intuition kept pushing me onwards, work harder, keep trying, do something else.

Well, there came a Friday afternoon, when I started calling creative management firms. By then, I was looking for representation as a speaker.

I thought, “Well, maybe if I was a speaker that would help me get published.” But somehow, I got connected to a literary agent. “Tell me about your book,” he said. A week later, we were in the back of a cab driving to a meeting with a major publisher who wanted to buy my book. Now, the agent rumbled and a somewhat casual guy looked over at me. “How much do you want for it?” he asked. I swallowed, then I named an impossibly large sum. Big enough to pay for my life for the next two years plus building a website and workshops and the business the book demanded. “Fine”, he said.  “No problem!” and the next day, the deal was closed for the exact sum I requested. And so I came to believe in the healing path and power of the guided book. In the end, “How Much Joy Can You Stand” has been read by thousands of people and yielded a fat happy community as well as a workshop that was taken and lead by people in 22 different countries. Healing has happened but only because I followed the whisper in my head to write the book in the first place.

My guest in this episode has done the very same thing. Laila Ibraham is another healer who writes and her story and her success in following her Guidance are truly specular. I do hope you enjoy.

Please tell the story of how you came to write your book?

Laila Ibrahim: Well my first novel, Yellow Crocus actually, I feel like it chose me like the Universe just handed me these characters and just compelled me to write a story about them even though. I had never written anything in my life before. I was with a group of people and we were talking about Tiger Woods and someone mentioned how he identifies his Asian as much or even more as being black. And I thought to myself, “Of course, he does.” His mom is Asian and we form our identities in relationship to our caregivers. And in that moment, I thought of this little white baby breastfeeding from a black woman and what it would be like for that baby to grow up. In order to take her place in society, she would have to reject that woman’s very humanity and disassociate herself from the love of that woman.

Suzanne: Okay. So, let me stop you right there. Can you just give a little capsule synopsis of the book?

Laila Ibrahim:  Yeah! So it’s the story of Lisbeth who’s the daughter of a plantation owner and at the moment of her birth she’s handed over into the care of a wet nurse who’s an enslaved woman, who has to leave her son behind in the quarters to take care of this baby. So it’s a story of a mother-daughter relationship but their attachment relationship in this very really horrific context. But they do love each other and create like a family unit within this system of oppression.

Suzanne: And what year are we talking about?

Laila Ibrahim: It starts before the civil war. So, Lisbeth is born in 1837 and basically ends in 1861. So it’s a long time frame.

Suzanne: So, carry on.

Laila Ibrahim: So, these characters came to me and I literally would think about them before I was going to sleep or while I was on a drive. I was 33 and I thought, I can’t write a book! This is ridiculous and I literally would go into libraries. This is kind of when Google was starting I would do Google searches to see if this book had been written. Surely, someone has written this book and I don’t have to do it. And I read from Octavia Butler and all these things like trying to find the story and I realized no one had ever written that particular story. The story that I wanted to write which was just this story of what it would be like to be born into this, what looks like complete privilege, like it’s a good thing.

Suzanne: So, little well off white baby born into Anti-Bellum South Family.

Laila Ibrahim: Yeah! And born into supposed privilege. What we call privilege but what a horrific setting to be really born into and like what would make her kind of remove the scales from her eyes.

Suzanne: Her – being, Lisbeth, the baby?

Laila Ibrahim: Because we’re all born into a system. We’re born into a particular system and we’re taught how we fit into that system and what’s right about it. And the system kind of perpetuates itself by I think part of the way it perpetuates itself is having particularly the people in power think that it’s right. It’s right that it’s this way and so one of the questions I asked myself, “What makes most people perpetuate the system and what made a few people break away from it and made it for what it is?”

Suzanne: At the time that you started getting this big download about this and you started like looking up other books like it and so forth. What were you doing?

Laila Ibrahim: At that point, I had my preschool. So I did family day care at my home. I had this… it was a separate space and this preschool and I… So I started writing it on my 40 birthday. I had all these friends that ran marathons when they turn 40 and I was like, “I’m not running a marathon.” But my marathon is going be trying to write this novel.” So, I just remember the day that I sat down and like there’s this scene like the opening scene had percolated like dreamed it. I thought it, I knew, so I was like okay I’m going to try to write it down. So yes, I was doing preschool, I didn’t work full-time at the preschool. I worked kind of part time there and mostly as a director, so I would go out in the morning and say hi to the parents and welcome the kids and the teachers and all the stuff. And then I would go into my house because it was next to my house. And then I would write pretty much from like 10 to 2 or 3 and then there was a pick up at 3 o clock at the preschool  I remember we had a 3 o clock pick up and a 5 o clock pickup. And remember like I would talk to the parents on pickup and they would be like, “How’d you writing go today.” I said, “It went pretty well and they be like this happened or that happened” or I tear up because it was a completely painful that I had written or something horrible I had research. And I would say, It’s going really well but this is crazy! I should be looking for a job because I have to pay for college soon this is just ridiculous. I should not be writing a book.” But I just kept doing and doing it. And then, I would give it to people and they’d read it and they’d say this is ridiculous. I just stop or do I have something there, and they’d read it and they’d be like, “You have something there, keep going.”

Suzanne: Friends or family members exactly. So how long a period of time was there between the initial glimmer – the Tiger Woods conversation and actually beginning to write the book?

Laila Ibrahim: 7 years. I was 33 when I first started the glimmer and I was reluctant.

Suzanne: Tell me how long it was between when you had the download about Tiger Woods and this original vision of the book? And you actually began the first page?

Laila Ibrahim: There was 7 years so I was 33 when I first thought of it and 40 when I first started writing it.

Suzanne: And tell me about those 7 years.

Laila Ibrahim: You know those 7 years it just felt like well that’s not something that I could do. I wasn’t a writer. I’d never written fiction I was a very good dry writer like a passive writer. I’d study phycology and thought I might get a Ph.D. and I would have done fine with that. But like flowery writing or poetic writing or storytelling that was not my thing at all. And I am someone who loves to tell stories and someone who likes to do public speaking. At that point, I was doing a lot of art but it was painting and kind of arts and craft and that kind of thing but the idea of actually writing a novel it just had to be something that wasn’t out there at all – for me to do it.

Suzanne: Say more than, please about this digging in and finding this story what was the actual telling of the story like did it guide you?

Laila Ibrahim: It guided me a lot a very much. I studied attachment theory in college and that was what my thesis was on. So part of what I was just thinking about is that capturing what it’s like to give birth to a child. I was Doula. I was getting my Duala training as I was writing some of the scenes I realized giving birth to your child is this huge thing in women’s lives. And it’s not represented in literature.

Suzanne: Can you say a little something about what attachment theory is?

Laila Ibrahim: Attachment theory is looking at humans as animals that evolved and there are certain things that we come out with that help promote our relationship with kids over. And there’s things that our caregivers get by caring for children and it’s the way that we fit into a human system.

Suzanne: So this is really a book. If there was a larger kind of social context for the book or purpose what would it be?

Laila Ibrahim: I feel like for me the larger purpose is trying to explain to ourselves part of how we got here. And for me, the part of how we got here is that I think at the very beginning of our nation. We believe that it was useful to trade relationship for social status. That it was a fine choice to make.

Suzanne: And that’s why a white mother would hand her child, why would a mother even hand her child to somebody else to breastfeed?

Laila Ibrahim: She never even got to hold her. The baby came out, Lisbeth came out and kind of reaches for her but she’s very tired but the housekeeper says “No she’s too tired.  She’s too sick. Bring her to the nurse”. And the doctor just hands her over and I mean the aunt’s like 19 years old. She’s living in a completely strange place, she hasn’t been sold to this family but it kinda has this kind has that feeling like in order for her to survive, she needed to get married and move in with the family, but she had to leave everything to do that.

Suzanne: So this is a white mother, who’s married into a family of privilege through some kind of arranged marriage kind of situation.

Laila Ibrahim: Yeah! Through that kind of Cotillion system. And you’re making matches.

Suzanne: And she doesn’t know her husband particularly well.

Laila Ibrahim: No! Not particularly well. And he is a second born son so he never expected to actually run the plantation. We found out later that he went to Seminary and wanted to be a minister. They’re Episcopalians, so be a priest. And just then, this was handed, and then his brother died and in that time period you couldn’t break up inheritances. So you’re eldest got everything and the next down got nothing and had to make their way in life.

Suzanne: So, the motivation behind the book is about this sharing it, wow.

Laila Ibrahim: And the next down got nothing and had to make their way in life.

Suzanne: So the motivation behind book is about this sharing years after the formation of the United States and the writing the constitutions.

Laila Ibrahim: Exactly.

Suzanne: Which is so early! First 100 years of the U.S history?

Laila Ibrahim: And I think there’s this huge amount of cognitive dissonance built into our nation.

And cognitive dissonance is when you hold two competing realities that can’t exist together but you do it anyway. And it takes a lot of brain power to keep them separate; things like our founding documents are all about freedom.

While we’re saying some human beings are three-fifths of a human.

Suzanne: They’re slaves.

Laila Ibrahim: Yeah. While saying all men are created equal and I personally cannot wrap my mind around that. Like how someone could write down all men are equal and own slaves? But clearly, I live in a different I do live in a different time. And the dissonance that it took for all these slave owning people to think that that what God was calling them to do. To think that, that was their right place and to think that it didn’t cause pain and so a lot of what Lisbeth hears from her parents is the enslaved need us to take care of them. We had rescued them and I think that was a big part of the system.

Suzanne: Fake news even then, so one of the things that made me want to interview you was the fulfillment and the obvious joy you get from writing.

Because now you’ve continued to write novels this is how you earn your living. It seems to me like it’s a sole purpose for you. Can you say a little something about this sense of purpose?

Laila Ibrahim: I think what if feel really proud about with Yellow Crocus is that I am kind of putting out some of my deepest values in the world in such a way that helps be a bridge for people. So there are people who have read Yellow Crocus and their African American and they feel like I taught them something about white people or a country’s past or honored their ancestors. That feels like I told a true story and that they are seen in the world and I have had people who have read nothing about slavery. Know nothing about this is just too painful or for whatever reason, they haven’t touched it with a 10-foot pole. And they began to open up their hearts and minds and understand themselves and place in our world and history. (So to be able to) I think one of my main calling in life is to do my best to be a bridge. To help us see the humanity in each other, to not see each other as good and evil, right and wrong. But see ourselves as really connected with a shared history and more importantly, a shared future and how do we create a shared future that is going to work better for all of us. So that’s my goal in telling my stories both Yellow Crocus, Living Right and now my newest story which is the sequel to Yellow Crocus.

Suzanne: Yeah! So when the book took off, can you say a little bit about the trajectory of the book?

Laila Ibrahim: Yeah! So I sent it to agent after agent and editor after editor. Publishing houses and the synopses of the feedback I felt like I got was, “Great writing but nobody wants to read this story.” or “It’s been done before.” And I would say, “What do you mean it’s been before?” and they’ll be, “You gone with the wind.” This book is not like gone with the wind. So resistance, resistance, resistance. When I started writing the book, I mean it may, but I never heard of it.

Suzanne: You’re talking about Indie publishing.

Laila Ibrahim: Indie publishing. And so it just started coming into like I would go to writers conferences and people would talk about Indie publishing. And I thought that would be like giving up but when the Kindle came out and Amazon became popular, I was like, “Wow! There is a way you can actually get your book into the world.” It’s not independent publishing where you have a stack of books that lives in your basement and you don’t know what to do with them.

Suzanne: The old model.

Laila Ibrahim: Yeah!  It’s independent publishing where you can actually find an audience. So I met with an editor and he had told me that the book was on the phone or by email. He had told me it wasn’t a very good book that it needed a lot of help and then I went and met with him in person. And he’s reading, he’s trying to explain to me why it’s a bad ending and he starts reading from the prologue. And he literally starts crying and tears are streaming down his face. He’s chocked up, I’m  chocked up, he looks at me and he says, “This is as good as the ending gets from them, isn’t it?” And I said, “Yeah! That’s as good as it gets.” And in that moment, I had the courage to pursue independent publishing, because I realized that I hadn’t told a perfect story. Yeah, I hadn’t written an excellent book, but I wrote a book that touched this man’s heart. And it’s a book that touched other people’s hearts.

Suzanne: And I would hazard, maybe that is an excellent book.

Laila Ibrahim: Exactly! Like in some ways, it may not be technically excellent writing or technically the story that people who are in the publishing industry would expect. Yet it’s a story that I believe hadn’t been told and a story that was told well enough to get into someone’s heart and mind.

Suzanne: Beautiful.

Laila Ibrahim: So at that point, I decided to pursue independent publishing. I used Create Space which is Amazon’s arm of independent publishing and as a fluke, I was like a pail to a Kindle Version. It’s only $75, there might be a few Kindle versions whatever. So that first year, that was in 2011 basically, January 2011. That first year, I still did a decent amount for independent publishing like two or three thousand paperbacks. And a few Kindle and then Amazon started the direct Kindle publishing program where you could give your book away. And I did that in January, which was after Christmas were people got a lot of Kindles and there weren’t a lot of books on Kindle and 43,000 people downloaded it in 2 days.

Suzanne: Wow!  So just for a little context when me or on IO or the other average Indie novelist puts up a free book with the support of a major, you know advertising program. You might get 3500 to 5000 downloads, that’s incredible!

Laila Ibrahim: It really was incredible.

Suzanne: And what happened next?

Laila Ibrahim: I just had the anniversary of it 5 years ago. So, even on Facebook, it showed me like, Oh! This is what happened 5 years ago, right? And I do remember we were actually driving to Disney Land, we were standing in line at Disney Land, looking at my sales, just being like,  “Oh my God, there was 200 sales this hour! Oh my gosh! There was 400 sales this hour.”  It was insane! So it was so because it was free for a couple days and then because it was high the sales went up.

Suzanne: High in the Amazon, right? So people could find this. So then you had sales boost off of the free promotion that’s what happened.

Laila Ibrahim: So, I sold like 1400 the next day, like 1100 the day, it was 8000 that month. I sold 8000 in February of 2012. And then pretty much since then, I’ve been doing independent advertising and I kept working those giveaway programs. I contacted a lot of bloggers and asked them if I could give them a book to do a review and I would do a book giveaway and things would slump and I would be like should I just let it go and then I just in the back of my mind was that same feeling of, “No. More people need to hear this story. More people would have been glad to hear this story.” So I just kept at it, little bit by little bit. Every month or two, I would do a new advertising thing. So eventually, I got to 50,000 books sold and I got 150 given away

Suzanne: 150,000 given away.

Laila Ibrahim: Yeah. 150 000 given away, 50, 000 sold. And I get an email from someone who says Amazon loves Yellow Crocus and I thought it was a fluke. At first, I thought it was some little publishing company that had the same name as Amazon. But then I realize this is Amazon and my editor, Terry. Said, “You know I loved your book very much and we’d like to have one of our imprints and we’d do it for you. And put you out there.”

Suzanne: It was a new editor at that point?

Laila Ibrahim: No. He was my old editor. He’d been there forever.

Suzanne: And you knew this guy?

Laila Ibrahim: No! I didn’t know him. No… No…  it was a long time editor at Amazon like he was part of the startup of Amazon as a publishing company. But I did not know him exactly. Now, he wrote to me and said to me I’d love your book and I’d like you to consider having us republish it for you. He said your sales don’t match your reviews, we believe we can bring your sales up.

Suzanne: That’s interesting. So you’ve had good and bad reviews or have…

Laila Ibrahim: Mostly good reviews… so it’s like 4.6 stars.

Suzanne: But he said your sales…

Laila Ibrahim: …don’t match your review. So if your reviews are that high I could have stronger sales.

Suzanne: Wow! Your sales were pretty stellar! So pretty high.

Laila Ibrahim: But he’s right, they did bring them up. Yeah! They did bring them up a lot.

Suzanne: That’s  amazing!

Laila Ibrahim: So I did sell them the rights to the book and it took two or three months to go through the editing process. We re-edited it. Tiffany is my wonderful editor who I’m working with still. And she… any suggestion she made, I was welcome to use but I didn’t have to, but I think she definitely made it a better book. So between the first edition and the second edition, there are quite a few changes. Things were cut out and things that were added and some point of view things that were shifted. And so it came out in August and it’s done great ever since.

Suzanne: So it’s been good.

Laila Ibrahim: I’ve sold a low point it’s like 8 000 month and the high point, they did some crazy specials where I think I once actually got 60,000 in a month. But they were doing this really targeted marketing.

Suzanne: So you hear from people, I imagine.

Laila Ibrahim: I do hear from people and it’s very satisfying to hear from people who… my favorites are I’m too old for this. I stayed up all night reading the book.”

Suzanne: I like that one.

Laila Ibrahim: Another favorite was a young man. I always thought my readers would be kind of middle-aged women, maybe young women too but women. And so to get a letter from an African American young man who’s about 24 I think and he said he generally stays away from books about slavery. But there was something about my book that the cover of my book that made him wants to read Yellow Crocus. And he said he learned a lot and he really appreciated it. He appreciated that it wasn’t extra violent likes there’s in which there’s the threat of violence and it’s physiologically violent but it’s not very physically violent. But the thing that I was much touched by is he said it brought him some peace because he has white ancestors. And he never had any compassion for that part of himself but he felt like after reading Yellow Crocus that he’s come to peace and had more compassion for basically, his slave-owning ancestors. So that… I feel grateful for him taking the time to write to me and me knowing that that touched him in that way.

Suzanne: What a great story! So you continue to write books… Tell us what you’re doing now and what you did after Yellow Crocus?
Laila Ibrahim: So my second novel is called Living Right and it’s set in Doubloon, California in 2004 and that’s the suburb of San Francisco. It’s on the train line on the Bart line and it’s told from the point of view of an Evangelical Christian mom who’s confident that she’s living right. That she raised her children well and she is living right and has raised her children well. But the part that throws her life into chaos is that her son who’s the middle child, who’s 16 at the start of the book attempts suicide. And she finds out later that because he has same-sex attractions, as they call it in their culture. And it just rocks her world. All that she’s been thought that if she’s a good parent that, that wouldn’t happen to her son. And she got involve with Conversion Therapy which is fading now, but it was very active in 2004. And before I wrote this story I felt like Conversion Therapy was something that parents did to their children. And after writing it what I realized is that it was something that their religious leaders were doing to their family. That the parents are being told that it’s their fault, that it’s attachment disorder and that if in this case Josh who’s boy if Josh was securely attached to his father, he wouldn’t have same-sex attractions.

Suzanne: How did you research this book?

Laila Ibrahim: I did a lot of research on it. I read a lot when God speaks back is about Evangelical Christians and that’s a very like positive book. I mean for me it was positive just the sense of what it’s is to feel a divine connection in your life continuously, in a Christian context, for the Bible tells me so… is a documentary that I’d watch and then there was a series by Lisa Luis on the Opera Winfrey channel that I managed to find and that was incredible. So that was people who’ve been through conversion therapy basically, talking to people from Exodus and in particular Allan Chambers,( who were the people that) it was the largest conversion therapy program or movement and just before I started writing it, he came out that they’ve all been lying. But they can’t change sacral orientation, you can’t change attraction, but part of the way the system worked because it’s faith-based, the idea that if you believe it, God will change this in you if you have enough faith god will take this burden away. The people in the system felt compelled to testify that it works because they believed that then it would work.

Suzanne: Right. So just briefly how did this book come up for you very different, not historical novel.

Laila Ibrahim: My wife’s parent’s met at a Bible College.

Suzanne: You’re a lesbian?

Laila Ibrahim: I’m a lesbian. We’ve been together for 30 years so but we could get married. So her parents met at a Bible College in the 50s and her father was gay. And I think he said to his wife was I had trouble with my roommate but that’s behind me now. That was his way of kind of saying something to her. So when I had written Yellow Crocus, I was on the phone with an agent and that agent had taken the whole thing. Was very interested in it and said what else are you writing? And in a moment I came up in a flash of a fictionalized account of my in-law’s experience.

So when his father died it’s in the early 90s but kind of came out in the 70s and it affected their whole family and I was like, “Wow, that.” It was a fascinating story. So I just said that and that kind of percolated a little bit in my mind. So after Yellow Crocus was doing so well I started to outline that novel and part of what I realize is I didn’t have any juice behind it. I could not get myself to actually write it. I outlined it, I gave characterizations all these things and I was driving through the Ciara’s. Well, I think there were 2 things that happened. So one I went to rally’s in San Francisco for marriage equality because I live in the bay area. And at one of the rally’s, it was a very big rally and there were just like all these people and that were for marriage equality. And there was a little group of people holding these signs that were clearly Evangelical Christians that were holding up signs for their deepest values which is supporting and defending traditional marriage. And they were teenagers and I just watched them and they clearly all cared about each other. And their adult advisors care about them or whoever was there with them. And I’m a total church person and I work with the teens and then adults in our church and I thought, “They’re bringing their kids to protect them.” I mean, I believe that they believe that they believe their protecting their children. I thought, “God! I wish I had slips of paper that said, Do you know that you maybe, you know condemning your own sister, brother, cousin, niece, nephew right like they. But I didn’t, I didn’t have those.

Suzanne: You didn’t gaze among lesbians and queries among us right.

Laila Ibrahim: Right! Those were right with that group of people.

Suzanne: That’s right.

Laila Ibrahim: And I know you love them and that you don’t realize what spiritual damage you’re doing and physiological damage you’re doing to them in this moment. So just thought that. And as I’m driving in the car to do it was actually a book club for Yellow Crocus, again I started to have this vision and then it was this vision of I didn’t know the characters names but Josh is in the hospital and his sister Ciara is sitting on his bed.  And they’re talking about why he could’ve attempted suicide and the mom is standing outside the door and that he thinks he’s awful. That he’s just so ashamed of himself and he just wants to stop being that ashamed of himself

Suzanne: I can relate to that.

Laila Ibrahim: Yeah.

Suzanne: So let me just ask a question, would you say that the ultimate purpose of these books is to spread compassion?

Laila Ibrahim: Absolutely! And spread compassion across a difference you’ve been taught not to live across.

Suzanne: Say a little more about that, please.

Laila Ibrahim: So I think there are all these boundaries in our society, in our world that we’re taught like that person is not lovable or that person’s so different from you or that person is someone who’s supposed to have contempt for. And to me, that’s just that and to this list of what we’re called to do on this earth.

I feel like what we’re called to do is to look at other people and see how their pains like ours, how we all share one destiny. That we somehow have to make the world in which we can all co-exist and thrive.

I fully in my heart believe that peace comes from justice and justice leads to peace and that if we want to live in a peaceful world, we have to create justice and compassion for everyone and I do believe there’s enough abundance that we can. I feel like we have the choice between the Star Trek future and the Mad Max future.

Suzanne: The Mad Max future…

Laila Ibrahim: And I’m working for the Star Trek future and it’s fate in something that none of us have ever seen. It is absolutely faith in something that none of us have ever seen. But I think we will, all of us, be more free and more abundant when we make that commitment and choice.

Suzanne: That is excellent. Well, I want to wrap this up and I’m reluctant because I’m having so much fun listening to you and talking to you.

Laila Ibrahim: We would have to do it again another time.

Suzanne: Well, we will. Can you just say really briefly what you’re working on now?

Laila Ibrahim: Yeah! So I’m working on the sequel to Yellow Crocus. So the Lake Union, which is my publisher through Amazon was not interested in Living Right because it was too modern and they like historical fiction and so I’d completely respected their choice not to publish Living Right. But one thing I’m grateful for is the review of Living Right were solid enough that they offered me a two-book contract to do more historical fiction and Yellow Crocus is selling well. So I’ve got a two-book deal. My first one I believe it’s going to be called, Mustard Seed. Like faith of a mustard seed from the Bible and it goes back to…It’s Mattie and Lisbeth’s life but it’s told from Jordan, who’s Mattie’s daughter’s point of view.

Suzanne: The next generation

Laila Ibrahim: The next generation and it goes back to 1868. They’re returning to the south and trying to understand what changes have been brought basically by the civil war.

Suzanne: It’s awesome! Wow! Well, thank you for taking the time to share your work with us. And I will have show notes with links to your books, of course. And more about how people can contact you if they had any questions or comments.

Laila Ibrahim: And I love calling into book clubs. So, I’m very happy to do that. So, I’d love to do it for a book club.

Suzanne: So, thank you, Laila Ibraham. Beautiful! Bye.

Laila Ibrahim: Bye.