Saudi author takes an intimate look at death in praised novel
MAKKAH: 12-year-old Ritaj Al-Hazmi won the title of “youngest writer in a series of novels” in the world with the Guinness World Records after publishing two novels.
She published her third novel this year and is currently working on two more.
Al-Hazmi grew up reading fiction and fantasy and was inspired to be a published writer in 2016 after her father took her to a bookstore and wanted to see her books on the shelves with big names.
She was motivated to write for her age group as she said most books are aimed at people older or younger than her.
âFrom the day I started reading, I discovered what I wanted to be when I was a little older. I wanted to connect with the world by reading, writing, sharing ideas, ideas and opinions, âshe said.
The young novelist wanted her first book to be fiction. âI knew I wanted my book to have an idea to help readers run towards their dreams without giving up. I always thought my writing would help persuade them to do just that.
After she finished drafting her first book, she sent it to an editor who told her it needed to be much more detailed than she initially thought. Giving up was not an option for her as she had already completed her first draft.
Her father insisted that she take classes to learn more about the genre and how to master it. After completing the serval course, she rewrote the whole project.
âThe lessons were taken from Jessica Brody’s Writing Mastery. I started to write what I had learned – from hooking readers, to the structure of fiction, to great ingredients for writing fiction, to methods such as the Save the Cat (STC) method â , she said.
Al-Hazmi finished his first book, âTreasure of the Lost Seaâ, at the end of 2018, sent it to the publisher and started writing his second novel, âPortal of the Hidden Worldâ. Both of her books were published in 2019.
âI was able to attend the Riyadh International Book Fair and sign my first book there. At that point, I was interviewed by one of the well-known TV stations, MBC, and talked about my writing journey, âshe said.
Finding a publishing house willing to publish Al-Hazmi’s book at her age was a challenge – until she signed a contract with a publishing house in January 2020.
In the same year, she also planned her third book in the series. âSince I read a few blogs on the future, I thought this would be a good topic for my main characters to go through. Because most of the shows were about magical powers, I knew a change would be good as the main characters would try something new.
Al-Hazmi usually plans the title of the book before writing it, however, this changed several times throughout the writing process until she finally decided to name it on the theme “Beyond future world â.
While writing her third book in the series – while her parents were looking for new lessons for her – Al-Hazmi decided to hold her own workshop. She started working on the presentation slides, planning the content, talking points and most importantly how she could impart knowledge to those who came to learn.
âOnce I got ready and presented the workshop, I was amazed to see all these kids come out to learn. Throughout my workshop, I learned a lot of things, âshe says. “One of the most important things to do after you learn is to teach others what you know, to remember what you have learned and why you decided to do it.”
“Beyond the Future World” had a significant impact on Al-Hazmi, she said, noting that she had a “very memorable” trip with the book.
âMy message to everyone – especially those my age – is dreaming big, do it now, don’t wait until later. Ideas come and go, as do opportunities, âshe said.