If I Wasn’t Writing I’d Have Become A Chef- Alhanislam

I Feel Like I was Born To Write..... 


Maryam Bukar Hassan, a.k.a Alhanislam, is the founder of Deen-at-Heart Organization, to which the Deen-at-Heart foundation is an affiliate. She’s also a known motivational speaker, author and poet. Her famous poem “Sir Labo Yari”, performed at Kabafest led to her recognition by Mal Nasir ElRufai and invitation to perform at the launch of “Yasmin Elrufai Literacy Foundation For Girls and Women. She speaks with TMG…

TMG>> Tell us more about yourself>

Maryam> I was born on the 25th of December 1996 in Kaduna but I’m  an indigene of Borno state. I attended Nigerian Customs Staff School for my primary education, and Al Madinah Islamic Academy, Uncle Bado Memorial College in Kaduna state for my secondary education, graduating at the age of 15.

I’m an ICT graduate from Radford University College, Accra Ghana graduating at 19 with a second class upper degree and now looking forward to my masters. I’m an author, poet and motivational speaker. 

TMG>> When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Maryam> From when I was 15


TMG>> What sort of writer are you? Fiction, fantasy, nonfiction?

Maryam> I’m a nonfiction writer


TMG>> How many books have you written and which is your favourite?

Maryam> I’ve written two books, about to publish the 2nd and that’s my favourite: “Forgotten Role Models”


TMG>> Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Maryam>Yes, I do. Honestly, they say things I would consider humbling comments, and thank Allah, it’s great when you serve as an inspiration to people

TMG>> As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Maryam> I wanted to become a medical doctor


TMG>> Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Maryam> It energizes me but at the same time it can get quite exhausting, especially when you are given a theme to write on and a deadline


TMG>> Are you encouraged/discouraged when you think your writing might not get the response you want because of the belief that many Nigerians don’t get round to reading much?

Maryam> Reading culture is gradually growing in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, so I wouldn’t say I’m discouraged. On the contrary, I actually feel quite encouraged because so far, so good we are making progress.

TMG>> What did you do with what you earned from your first book?

Maryam> Actually, my first book wasn’t for sale but since I am not just a writer but a poet and a spoken word performance artist, I used what I earned from my first performance to give myself a treat and got my mum a gift; she’s my biggest fan


TMG>> How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Maryam> I have two unpublished books and three unfinished ones


TMG>> What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Maryam> The kind of research I do includes talking to people most of the time because a lot of what I write are memoirs and non fiction so these stories come from real life  experiences. Sometimes it takes a while

TMG>> What’s the best way to market your books?

Maryam> By getting a very good publishing company. I think that way, you would have cut the stress of marketing by half. Other ways are through social media, bookshops, festivals e.t.c but it gets quite easy when you have a large fan base


TMG>> What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

Maryam> I don’t have specific timing for writing- when the inspiration comes I write, even if its for 5 mins…sometimes I go days without writing. I’m not excellent with deadlines except when it’s a necessity, otherwise I believe in going at my own pace which is slow and steady


TMG>> What is your favorite childhood book?

Maryam> I don’t have a particular one, I just picked names I like

TMG>> If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

Maryam> If I didn’t write, I would have become a chef


TMG>> What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Maryam> Samira Sanusi, author of  “S is for Survivor”; Mr Odafe, author of “Tanduno’s Song”; Oreva Irri, author of “Absolution”. They push me to just keep writing because the more you do, the better you get at it. When I talk with Samira especially, one of the first things she asks is “what have you written so far?” I love her


TMG>>Does your family support your career in writing?

Maryam> Yes they do. I come from a family of artists so the support I get from them is just great and so powerful, especially my mum, dad and my husband. I am forever greatful


TMG>>  Do you believe in writer’s block?

Maryam> Yes, I do. It happens to me quite alot, it’s crazy to deal with  but you just have to find a way to deal with it.

TMG>> What authors did you like growing up?

Maryam> Growing up, I looked up to Chimamanda and Wole Soyinka. 


TMG>> And now?

Maryam> Now it’s Ishmael Beah but that doesn’t mean I don’t still look up to the former


TMG>> When did you write your first book and how old were you?

Maryam> It was right from when I was in highschool but at the time it meant nothing, just a hobby. Now, growing up and realising the impact my work has on people got me feeling like I was born to write

TMG>>What does literary success look like to you?

Maryam> To have published 10 books, get them in schools and to have performed my spoken word work until I lose count


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