Interview with Author Juliana Sheikh – Ramona Portelli Blog

Interview with Author Juliana Sheikh

Juliana Sheikh was born in Ndola, Zambia, which is in Southern Africa. She grew up in Ndola and then moved to Harare, Zimbabwe, where she lived until 2001. She then moved to the UK where she resides. She has a brother and mother in Zimbabwe, another brother in Australia, a sister in Cumbria and three brothers and a wonderful stepmother in Los Angeles. Juliana’s family is wonderfully diverse in ethnicity and religion, holidays are always fantastically colourful! She now lives with her partner, two rabbits and a cat, in a tiny cottage in Bedfordshire.  

The young Juliana grew up surrounded by books and a wonderful family of pets including a monkey, two snakes, and a plentiful serving of dogs and cats.  As a child, she loved being transported to wonderful places like Narnia, or into the fairy tale lands of Hans Christian Andersen. Enid Blyton seemed to know just the adventure that Juliana wished to go on with her closest friends. As a young girl, Juliana wanted to write fantastical stories that she could share with young readers as these authors had done with her.  

Juliana studied chemistry at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and English literature at the University of Cambridge ICE. Edinburgh still remains one of her most favourite locations in the UK with its castle in the centre of the town and the extinct volcano, the magnificent Arthur’s Seat, which sits snoring gently at Holyrood Park. The journey by train from the bustling London King’s Cross Station to Edinburgh’s Waverly Bridge Station, laden with chemistry books and a small, packed lunch, gave her much time to escape the hard sciences and write poetry and short children’s stories.

After completing her studies, she moved around, working various jobs including some work in the chemical industry. It did not take her long to realise that she much preferred to work with children, so Juliana moved into tutoring work and writing. Connecting with young people of all ages and helping them with their studies has been one of her biggest joys.  

Tell me more about your latest book

The Mole and The Sunglasses: Mud-Digging Children’s Book Proves Even Life’s Smallest Creatures Have Big, Big Personalities 

Juliana Sheikh’s ‘The Mole and The Sunglasses’ takes children down underground and into the world of Mr. Mole, who is about to embark on the adventure of his life. Written for young readers and their families, the book is a fun reminder that even the small creatures we take for granted are individuals with personalities, big hearts and emotions.  

The Mole and The Sunglasses Synopsis:

Mr Mole loves his cosy underground home that’s filled with yummy, scrummy, buggy food. He lives on a family farm owned by his dear friends, Jac and his mum. He finds himself in quite the predicament though! We follow Mr Mole as he leaves his home and goes on an unexpected adventure up into the big world above. 

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

The most challenging aspect was getting the book published. I really enjoyed writing the story and also found the editing process enjoyable as well as illuminating.

What is your normal procedure to get your books published?

My first word of advice is…. Don’t get your illustrations created until you’ve had all of your editing done! I got ahead of myself and thought that my story was polished only to discover that I needed more illustrations which cost a lot more than getting a quote to do the whole book. My procedure is likely like any other. I wrote the story, edited it myself as far as I could and then hired a professional freelance editor to polish the manuscript for me. I then hired an illustrator and after that went through the very long and painful process of finding a literary agent. I had my manuscript reviewed by a renowned children’s book author after a few rejections (which is normal). On receiving very complementary feedback I decided to self-publish and to use a self-publishing company for distribution.

What motivated you to become an author?

I always wanted to write. I remember dreaming of being a children’s book author as a small child. The magic created by Lewis Carroll, Enid Blyton and Hans Christian Andersen made me believe in magic and the healing power of friendship. I love animals too so as an adult intertwining children’s stories with animal friendships has been a huge motivation.

How many books have you written so far?

I have written 4 books so far. 2 of the books are getting illustrated and this is truly a magical stage in writing. The 4th book is currently at the editing stage.

The Mole and The Sunglasses

Lilly and the Venus Flytrap

Goodnight Sweet Dreams

The Cat, The Fish and The Ganges

As an author, do you prefer the traditional book or online version? Why?

I much prefer the traditional book. I love holding a book in my hands and reading lying down on a bed with the book raised above my face. I love the small of paper and the online version of a book misses the magic of illustrations and drawings. I love being able to use a beautiful book mark to keep my page. The only plus of an online book is that it weightless and only takes up virtual space.

How hard or easy is it to establish and maintain a career in writing?

It can be hard to set aside the time to carry out the research and to find the time to write if you are also working which I am. I also think that mindset and setting make a big difference with regards to enhancing creativity. In the current climate with Covid-19 keeping most of us fixed in one location getting away to a new setting is becoming increasingly more difficult.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Your stories deserve the best possible investment; both mentally and also financially. Make sure that your manuscript is absolutely polished until it shines, so do not scrimp on a professional editor if you are self-publishing! If you don’t intend to self-publish, I would still get the manuscript edited before sending it out as first impressions are incredibly important. Editors are truly the holy grail of writing.

Visit Author Sheena Sheikh book links:-

My website link:

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble USA


Dymocks Australia

Amazon Japan

The book is available globally so please do an online google search by title or author name to find your preferred retailer!

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