Monday, October 17, 2022

Q&A with S.K. Ali


Photo by Andrea Stenson



S.K. Ali is the author of the new young adult novel Love from Mecca to Medina. It's a sequel to her YA novel Love from A to Z.


Q: Why did you decide to write a sequel to Love from A to Z, and how do you think your characters Adam and Zayneb have changed from one book to the next?


A: Adam and Zayneb are characters who have become beloved to a lot of readers and are actually favorites of mine as a writer. It was an easy decision to continue their story and follow them into their “ever-after.”


In Love from Mecca to Medina, Adam and Zayneb are four years older, and, while they’re on route to realizing their dreams, they’re both encountering challenges on their paths. While they’re more secure in their love from each other, they haven’t experienced real relationship tests yet. Hence, the sequel. 


Q: What inspired the plot of Love from Mecca to Medina?

A: The spiritual setting of Mecca and Medina; the challenges of doing the Umrah, a pilgrimage in Mecca, with a group; Adam and Zayneb’s very disparate personalities; and things hinted at both in the first book and a subsequent novella all inspired the plot of the sequel. 


Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, in part, “The examinations of their [the characters’] inner selves, vulnerabilities, feelings of self-worth, and growing codependence are religiously framed and skillfully navigated.” What do you think of that description?


A: I love this description as it communicates a deft author-hand, which is something I strive for. I want my novels to read breezy to readers, to make them forget that they’re reading, which takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work that they’ll never know. 


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I knew the very last bit of the story (the epilogue) as well as the ending chapter. I try to make sure I have all the tentpoles of a story before I write as it saves time when writing to a deadline. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Three things: speculative fiction, historical humor, and an adult rom-com.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: To really enjoy Love from Mecca to Medina, it’s imperative to read Love from A to Z, and the free short story hosted by my publisher at, "The Eid Gift," and optimally, Saints and Misfits and Misfit in LoveLove from Mecca to Medina completes the storylines of all the characters introduced in these books.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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