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Meet The Author Joining Our Book Club This Month

Quick, spaces are SUPER limited!

With the huge success of July’s Book Club & Social, which saw the Gaggler ladies get together at the fantastic CMP Bar & Grill to discuss everything from books to life in Dubai. This month, we thought we would up the ante and read a novel written by a world-renowned author based right here in Dubai: Annabel Kantaria. Not only will we be reading her tantalising book The One That Got Away, but Annabel will also be joining us for our monthly book club, so you can ask her anything you want! Keep reading to find out how to join.

Up Close with Annabel Kantaria

We interviewed Annabel to learn all about her and the book we will be reading this month with The Gaggler Book Club!

How did your journey as a published author start?

I worked as a journalist and magazine editor until I had children, then I decided to take a step back from office life and focus on fiction as it had always been my dream to be an author. I started writing a novel that I’ve never shown to anyone – it was truly dire – but the process taught me quite a lot about writing. While I was writing it, I went to as many writing classes and workshops as I could each year at the annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (EAFOL) and learned from authors such as Tony Parsons and Louise Doughty. 

How did you get your big break?

When I was about a third of the way into a new manuscript, the EAFOL launched a writing competition for unpublished authors. The competition would be judged by a literary agent from London, Luigi Bonomi, and the winner would get to fly to London to meet him.

I’d spent a lot of time researching how difficult it is to get an agent in London, so I thought it was a golden opportunity. I entered, and I won first prize. Having Luigi on my side really got my foot in the door of the publishing world. He encouraged me to finish the manuscript that I’d started, and then he took me on as a client and managed to secure me my first – and then second – three-book contract.

Can you tell us a little about The One That Got Away ?

This story starts at a school reunion, where ex-lovers George and Stella meet for the first time in 15 years. Things hadn’t ended well when they split up at the end of the sixth form and George is now married, but there’s still an undeniable spark between the two of them. I can’t say too much more about what happens without giving away spoilers, but let’s just say it isn’t pretty. 

The story is told alternately from George and then Stella’s point of view. As the story unfolds, you see how differently they each view the same situations, which gives you a creeping sense of dread: how’s it all going to end? I always ask people who are reading it if they’re Team George or Team Stella. Warning: your loyalty may switch halfway through!

What was the inspiration for The One That Got Away?

I went to a 30-year school reunion myself and had the idea the same night. Nothing so juicy happened at my own reunion – not that I know of, anyway – but it did make me think what a great starting point for a novel a school reunion would be. 

Who is your favourite female author, and why?

I don’t have a single favourite female author – there are way too many amazing ones out there. But at the moment, I’m reading a lot of Lisa Jewell, Louise Candlish, and Ruth Ware. All of them are masters at creating suspense.

What is the process for writing and long does each novel take?

Well, obviously, you start with an idea. It could be a great premise, a twist, an ending, or – more rarely for me – a character. I work this up into how it could become a story, work out the bones of the plot and structure, and decide if I think it will a) work and b) be interesting enough for people to want to read it. As I’m in a contract, I usually run it past my agent and editor before I start writing – just to check they’re on board with the idea, too.

I write five mornings a week and sometimes a bit in the afternoon, too, if after-school activities allow me the headspace. I don’t usually work much in the school holidays. At that pace, it can take anything from three to six months to get the first draft down, and then another three or so months to edit and polish it up ready to send to my agent. He has a read and sends me comments, which I take on board before I submit it to the publisher. Then there’s a whole extra round of edits to go through with my editor before the manuscript is copy-edited for typos and typeset. That whole process – from idea to final manuscript – can take about a year, then there are quite a few more months while the publisher sorts out things like marketing, cover design, and finding a suitable publication slot.

Can you offer some tips for anyone looking to get their work published?

The first thing is to finish writing the book! There’s no point in worrying about how you’re going to get it published until you have something you can potentially publish. That means making time in your life to write every day. Writing really is like exercising: the more you write, the better and more efficient you become, so it’s good to make it a daily habit.

Once you have a manuscript, it’s probably worth hiring an editor or a literary consultant to look through it to make sure it’s as good as it can be before you send it to a publisher. Unless you’re writing something like poetry or non-fiction, you’ll have a better chance of getting published if you have an agent. The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook is a brilliant resource for finding an agent – it lists what each one in the UK is looking for and how to approach them. 

Tell us about your new book, The House of Whispers.

My latest title is written under my new pen name, Anna Kent, and will be out on August 5. It’s a chilling story about guilt and obsession. When Grace returns to Abi’s life years after they fell out at university, Abi can’t help but feel uneasy. Years ago, Grace’s friendship was all-consuming and exhausting and, now, as Grace slips back into her life with all the lethal charm she had before, Abi finds herself falling back under her spell. Just what influence does Grace have over Abi, and why has she come back now?

Welcome to the Gaggler Book Club! We want to read stories that make us think, move us, and open us up to meaningful conversations with each other and build life-long connections. We can’t wait to talk to you about this month’s book. Spaces are limited for our August Book Club featuring dinner & drinks with the author (yes! you can pose your own questions to the author in real-time!). To secure your place please find us on social at Gaggler Facebook Group to sign up and stay updated with our fellow readers!

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Around the World with Eid Al-Fitr

Celebrate the fast, differently

Eid al Fitr and Eid ul Fitr are different spellings of the same Arabic phrase which means “festival of breaking the fast”. “Eid” is the Arabic word for “festival” or “holiday”, and it is used to refer to both Eid ul Fitr and Eid al Adha, another important Islamic holiday that commemorates the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, as an act of submission to (PBUH) Allah’s command.

This is a time when Muslims come together to offer prayers, exchange gifts, and share meals with their loved ones. It is also a time to reflect on the values of Islam, such as compassion, generosity, and forgiveness, and to strengthen ties with family, friends, and the community.

Eid’s Global Significance

Eid is one of the most significant and widely celebrated festivals in the world. It is an occasion that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, and is a time of joy, celebration, and giving thanks. The significance of Eid is not just limited to Muslims; it is also recognised and celebrated by people from different cultures and religions around the world.

The significance of Eid varies across cultures and countries. In some countries, such as Egypt, Eid is celebrated for three days, while in others, such as Turkey, it is celebrated for four days. In some countries, such as Indonesia, Eid is known as “Lebaran” and is celebrated with traditional foods, such as Ketupat and Rendang. In other countries, such as Pakistan, Eid is a time for new clothes, henna designs, and special desserts, such as sheer khurma.

One of the most important aspects of Eid is the act of giving. Muslims are encouraged to donate to charity and to give gifts to friends and family members, especially to children. This act of giving is a way of expressing gratitude for the blessings that one has received throughout the year and is an opportunity to share those blessings with others.

Another important aspect of Eid is the gathering of family and friends. Muslims are encouraged to visit their relatives and loved ones during Eid and to strengthen ties with them. In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, it is customary to visit the graves of loved ones during Eid and to pray for their souls.

Eid is also a time to forgive and seek forgiveness. Muslims are encouraged to forgive those who have wronged them and to seek forgiveness from those whom they have wronged. This act of forgiveness is a way of purifying one’s soul and starting anew.

UAE Eid Al-Fitr Celebrations

Eid al-Fitr is one of the most significant celebrations in the UAE, marking the end of Ramadan and a month-long fast from sunrise to sunset for Muslims. The festival is celebrated with much joy and enthusiasm, with families and friends coming together to share food, exchange gifts, and greetings, and participate in a range of traditions.

The day typically starts with a special Eid prayer, which is held at mosques and prayer grounds across the country. After the prayer, families often visit each other’s homes or gather in public spaces to enjoy traditional foods such as dates, sweets, and other delicacies. Children are often given money or gifts by their elders, and many families dress up in their finest clothes for the occasion.

In the UAE, there are also many events and activities that take place throughout the Eid al-Fitr period. These include traditional markets, food festivals, and cultural performances, as well as fireworks displays and other outdoor activities. Many shopping malls and other venues also hold special events and promotions during this time.

Overall, Eid al-Fitr is a time of joy and celebration in the UAE, with people of all ages and backgrounds coming together to share in the festivities and express their gratitude for the blessings of the past month.

Eid Celebrations Around the World

Eid al-Fitr is celebrated in various ways around the world, often reflecting the local cultural traditions and customs. Here are some examples:

Indonesia: In Indonesia, Eid al-Fitr is known as Lebaran. The celebrations typically last for one week, during which people visit their relatives and friends, and seek forgiveness from one another. Special food is prepared, including ketupat (a type of rice cake), rendang (spicy meat dish), and opor ayam (chicken in coconut milk).

Egypt: In Egypt, Eid al-Fitr is known as Eid el-Fitr. The celebrations last for three days, during which people wear new clothes and visit family and friends. Special dishes are prepared, including fata (a bread and rice dish), kahk (a type of biscuit), and maamoul (a sweet pastry).

Turkey: In Turkey, Eid al-Fitr is known as Şeker Bayramı (Sugar Festival). The celebrations last for three days, during which people visit their relatives and friends, and give candy or small gifts to children. Special dishes are prepared, including baklava (a sweet pastry) and güllaç (a dessert made from thin layers of pastry soaked in milk).

Malaysia: In Malaysia, Eid al-Fitr is known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Celebration Day). The celebrations last for one month, during which people visit their relatives and friends, and seek forgiveness from one another. Special dishes are prepared, including lemang (glutinous rice cooked in bamboo), rendang (spicy meat dish), and ketupat (a type of rice cake).

United States: In the United States, Eid al-Fitr is celebrated by Muslim communities across the country. Many communities hold special prayer services, followed by communal meals and other festivities. In some cities, there are even public celebrations, such as parades and street fairs.

Iceland: In Iceland, Eid al-Fitr celebrations are unique, in part, because the Ramadan fast is performed in a way that is not to be seen anywhere else in the world. Iceland’s midnight sun phenomenon means that during Ramadan many Muslims fast for up to 22 hours a day! Muslims in Iceland do have the choice to break their fast based on the timings of sunrise and sunset from the nearest country, or of Saudi Arabia, however many have iftar when the sun breaks above the Icelandic horizon. So when Eid al-Fitr comes around, the celebrations are magical. The capital city of Reykjavik has a few mosques where the joyous merrymaking takes place and guests come laden with food inspired by Indonesian, Egyptian, and Eritrean cuisines to celebrate this holy day.

Morocco: In Morocco, Eid al-Fitr festivities give center stage to the country’s colourful culinary dishes. Where other countries focus on gift-giving and more commercialised displays of celebrations, Moroccans, after their morning prayers, hold low-key foodie affairs with family and friends. Lamb, couscous, and prunes feature prominently in meals throughout the day, followed by traditional cookies and pastries.

These are just a few examples of how Eid al-Fitr is celebrated around the world. Regardless of the specific customs and traditions, the holiday is a time for joy, forgiveness, and a renewed commitment to one’s faith and community.

Eid is a significant festival that is celebrated around the world by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It is a time of joy, celebration, and gratitude and is an opportunity to reflect on the values of Islam, such as compassion, generosity, and forgiveness. It is a time to strengthen ties with family, friends, and the community and to express thanks for the blessings that one has received throughout the year.

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