'I promised myself this time would be different. I would stand up for myself.'
Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem is used to being invisible. So no one is more surprised than her when Arif Malik, the hottest boy in school, takes a sudden interest.
But Arif is hiding a terrible secret and, as they begin to follow a dark path, Muzna faces an impossible choice: keep quiet and betray her beliefs, or speak out and betray her heart.
I Am Thunder is the debut novel from stunning YA voice, Muhammad Khan, which questions how far you'll go to stand up for what you believe.
About the author
Muhammad is a Maths teacher by day and a YA author by night. He graduated from King’s College London with a degree in Engineering before deciding he’d rather work with supercool teenagers than seriously geeky engineers. Beautiful Terrorist is his first novel. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him creating mathematical bunting, narrating creepypastas, or spying on his pet rabbit Sheba whom he has become convinced is plotting to take over the world.
1. Can you tell me about your debut novel.
I Am Thunder is Muzna Saleem’s story told in her own words as she navigates through life, facing ever more complicated challenges on her way to becoming THUNDER. Along the way she catches the eye of the hottest boy in school. He inspires her with his ideas about Islam and Islamophobia but soon his older brother gets his oar in and things take a dark turn…
Ultimately this is an uplifting tale about hope, first love and the power of the human spirit.
2. What made you want to be a writer?
I believe I always wanted to be a writer. I began creating picture stories from the age of about four, but my parents had other plans for me. So I became an engineer – hated it, then retrained as a maths teacher – loved it. I began telling stories at the end of lessons as rewards. My students responded with enthusiasm, telling me I should be an author. That gave me the confidence to submit to agents. Remember I’m a mathematician, so putting my writing out there to be judged by professionals was extremely daunting. But I guess if you care about something passionately, as I do for writing, quitting is never an option.
3. Who are some of your favourite authors and have they inspired you in any way?
Minfong Ho made me realise Asian people could be in books when I found an old copy of Rice Without Rain in my school library. I sent her fan mail and she sent me back some of her books! Patrice Lawrence wrote Orangeboy which reminded me of my childhood, especially the vivid descriptions of London, and of course she followed it up with the equally brilliant Indigo Donut. Katherine Paterson always wrote books about children who were far more interesting than the adults around them. What made her books special was that she was never afraid to tackle tragedy. Bridge to Terabithia and Lyddie are particular standouts.
4. Are you working on anything at the moment?
Yes! Kick The Moon is about a fourth generation British Pakistani boy. I’ll be exploring issues around masculinity. I’m studying for a degree at the same time so my life is all kinds of hectic right now. But I’m living the dream so I’m definitely not complaining!
Thank you Muhammad Khan for this interview, don't forget to pick up his brilliant book and check out YASHOT for the rest of the blog tour!