A Place Called Hell
Well, hello there. Welcome to Reading With R and today, as I promised on the last episode, I have a sister shaped surprise. Drum roll please.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have with us. Hauwa Hala Nuraddeen, my sister and author extraordinaire on the streets. So, Because she is my sister and you know, because I’m also, I’m awesome and amazing and all, I am the first person that has the privilege of interviewing her about her book that came out a few days ago, A Place Called Hell.
So here she is.
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Hauwa Hala: Hi. It’s so, it’s so cool to be here. .
Ruqayyah: Okay. Oh, and as we all know, she’s the first guest on our podcast. We’ll see how this goes. You know, if it goes well and you guys love it, we’ll probably make it a regular thing, having guests on the podcast. So, as I was saying, A Place Called Hell is the first book in the Abdul Malik Trilogy, The title of the book is…
Oh, how many times am I going to see it? Anyway, I’ll say it again. A Place Called Hell. We will link the information on how to get the book, where to get it, how much it is. Don’t worry, all of you can afford it. All of you have to buy one. And, uh, without further ado, let’s get into it. So Hauwa, please introduce yourself.
Hauwa Hala: Uh, okay. Wow, this question is so annoying. , cuz I never know what to say, but, um, my name is Hauwa Hala Nuraddeen and, I guess I, I guess I wrote a book, , and that’s why I’m here. But, um, I’m a student and, you know, it’s always so funny when people find out I’m a science student that writes, they always make such a big deal out of it, but it’s like, I have hobbies, you know, I’m, I’m 18.
That’s really cool for me. And the book got released on my birthday, which is something that I really like and I, I don’t know what to say again.
Ruqayyah: Oh, I actually wanted to spill that little tidbit about how it was released on her birthday. So anyway, every year on the 23rd, October, On the day that Hauwa became an adult, she turned 18 on the 23rd, A Place Called Hell gets a little bit older.
So it’s like, awwwwn, the day she became an adult, she had her first baby . Okay, pretend that is not weird.
Hauwa Hala: I never thought of it that way. I never, it never occurred to me. But no, I can’t stop. You know, like
Ruqayyah: It’s valid, I guess
Hauwa Hala: It is.
Ruqayyah: So, um, to paint a picture for you guys, even though, uh, the, the image for this episode is going to be a cover of the book.
It is pink and it is blue and we love it. We love it. So, so much. So let’s get started on the questions. As we all know, your host extraordinaire has a huge issue with recording and talking about books without giving spoilers. But this time around we are not going to have any of that problem. So to give you an idea of what the book is like, I will read the blurb,
Two Families, Two Lives, and an Invisible Girl.
Aala Abdulmalik is the girl that doesn’t exist. As the Abdulmalik family’s best kept secret, Aala has seen little more than the walls of her home and her hill. A wallflower shackled to the family that doesn’t want her. Spending her days alone, steeped in loneliness. However, this changes the night she meets Nassar Abiodun, a boy looking for an escape from the problems of his home.
When a series of events intertwine these lives and bring Aala’s existence to the spotlight , what is to become of the girl who isn’t supposed to exist?
So, Hauwa Hala,
Hauwa Hala: Yes ma’am.
Ruqayyah: Let’s start with the questions. What were your inspirations to write this book?
Hauwa Hala: Wow, well, um, okay, so this is kind of like I just, I drew inspirations from a lot of places, but the main idea came.
As of on a very random Saturday, I remember cuz I was in the car with my dad and we were talking and my dad and I were pretty close. Like, we talk a lot about different topics. We have similar interests. So then I just had, you know, a what if not like, oh my God, what if I wasn’t as close to my father? And that just, I that spiraled into what if, oh my God.
Imagine if somebody’s dad hated them. Spiralled into, imagine if somebody’s entire family hated them, . And then I created a character whose entire family hated her because I could. Yeah.
Ruqayyah: That’s lovely. Okay, so this next question of mine is going to relate to something that you mentioned about being, um, A science student.
Um, yeah. What you said about being a science student. So, um, how did you discover that creative part of you? How did you realise that those ideas that you had in your head deserved to be turned into a book despite, you know, not being taught literary subjects or creative writing?
Hauwa Hala: Well, I’ve always been a reader.
For as long as I can remember. I’ve read, I always read, I read a lots of books, and I think it gets to a point where you have so many book ideas and so many, oh what if this book had ended this way? What if this thing was that way and then you just. I don’t know. You just want to write for me. I think the catalyst was Wattpad .
Cuz I was super like heavy into Wattpad at that time and then I just, you know, I just wanted to try, so I wrote a chapter of this very cringe book that I deleted immediately and that just set it off for me.
Ruqayyah: Oh yeah, I do remember reading it. On Wattpad . But then you never finished it? I started reading it.
Not that I read it, I started reading it. But then, because you know, I have a thing where I don’t read books that are not complete on Wattpad . Because sometimes the authors flake like you did . So I was like, I’m not reading it until you finish it.
Hauwa Hala: Yeah.
Ruqayyah: So, um, yeah, that, that, that takes us to my next question.
How long did it take to complete the whole trilogy.
Hauwa Hala: Oh, okay. Wow. Should I, I think, Okay. Well, okay. This is is divided tech- officially. I started writing this book in 2017 and I didn’t finish it until 2020, but in between 2017 to 2019 ending, when I started taking the writing seriously, it was just me writing whenever I felt like writing, but towards the end of 2019.
I really just wanted to finish the book. It was such a huge book. And so I started writing diligently and I finished it in a year between the ending of 2019. I remember I wrote the last chapter on seventh October, 2020. I never forget that date , because it was the first time I finished the book. I honestly thought I would never finish the book.
Ruqayyah: I think I remember that, but okay. Wait, wait, wait, wait. I think I remember you saying something about revisions or like when you started writing it offline, you changed it completely from the initial Wattpad version, right.
Hauwa Hala: Yes, this book has gone through so many changes. Honestly. The first, Wattpad version had so many plotholes.
It was so cringeeeee. Now that I think about it, it was so bad. I was so dramatic in that first draft that I scraped it and I started all the way from the beginning. And yeah, that was 2019. That was the og OG OG book. And that’s not to count the edit that came when the book was going to be published cuz it was this huge book and then we agreed to divide it into three parts.
So I had to still edit something cuz I didn’t want people to read the same thing that they had read on Wattpad . And then there were things that I wanted to add, things I wanted to fix. So like, this gave me the opportunity to do that.
Ruqayyah: Mm mm Yeah. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So, um, next, how would you describe your writer’s block, if at all you had any?
Hauwa Hala: Oh, okay. So for me, when I feel the inspiration to write, it’s kind of like the characters are in my head, like 24/7 I keep imagining their reactions. I keep imagining everything. And then when I have writer’s block, it’s nothing. I don’t even think about the book at all.
Ruqayyah: Hmm hmm. Right, right. So, you know, talking about writer’s block, I remember a piece of poetry you once wrote about writers’ block
You know, a fun fact about our beloved author. She is not just a writer, she’s also a poet. And, um, that’s one thing I have to say about her books. You guys know me and my well written books ish. So, yeah, because she writes poetry, I think her writing style is distinct in that at times it is quite lyrical and poetic ,
Hauwa Hala: I feel so flattered.
Ruqayyah: No. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But that’s one thing I do love about it though. It gives this fanciful and, yeah, let me just say it. I always see it poetic prose.
So, let me go to the next question. Did you ever feel like stopping the writing?
Hauwa Hala: Yes. A hundred times, a million times. Oh my God. Wow. Yes. I, I, I wanted to stop writing for a really long time, cuz. I don’t know. You know, sometimes you have doubts as a writer and you’re like, Oh, what’s the point of writing this book anyway?
And you know, at times when the writer’s book would hit, I’m like, I should just abandon this book and start a new one, like, let’s just let this one die. But I couldn’t let it die. It, it wouldn’t let me let it die, which was the main problem. But I think. When I got to the end, when I was really close to the end that I’ve never felt more like I needed to write than when I really wanted to finish the book.
The very . Is it ironic? I guess it’s ironic. Part of me not wanting to write is that when I’m, when I was done, And it was [00:11:00] out in the world. I was like, I just want to take it all back and keep it to myself. Cause I don’t want to know what people think. I just don’t want to know what anybody think. I don’t even like talking about this book to people.
Ruqayyah: Uh, well to be fair, a lot of authors feel that way towards their first book. I think I once heard someone say that if he could find every single copy of his first book, he would find it and burn it all. So yeah, you’re not alone. So what would you say is your interesting writing, quirk?
Hauwa Hala: Hmm. Okay. So, um, a huge chunk of the second book is pretty sad. Funny enough, I wrote most of those scenes in a very good mood. I write sad scenes when I’m happy , and I find it very sadistic cause why am I making people sad when I am fine. But yeah, I write sad scenes when I’m fine.
Ruqayyah: Okay. Um, What I want to ask is, okay, what was, since you mentioned that those were your most enjoyable scenes, right? So which were your most difficult scenes to write? Oh my God. Wait, wait, wait, wait. I got this. I can totally answer this one. The shmushy happy scenes.
Hauwa Hala: Yes, it’s, It’s very funny because I love happy books and I read romance all the time. When it was time for me to write those happy scenes, it was so hard. That’s actually what I’m struggling with in my current work in progress, cuz I’m at the happy part. It’s so hard to write happy things sometimes, cuz all I want to do is make their life sad, you know?
Then put it all back together again.
Ruqayyah: Somebody has a little God complex . Okay. Okay. So did you encounter any problems while getting the book published?
Hauwa Hala: Hmm. No, not really. It was a very smooth process. I hardly did anything apart from the final editing process.
Ruqayyah: Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. So shout out to Paul. Hauwa Hala Nuraddeen’s publisher.
And, um, lastly, before we go into the excerpt reading, which y’all know is my favourite, except this time we are going to put the author on the spot and have her read it. Can you explain the dedication of the book?
Hauwa Hala: Oh, okay. So the book is dedicated to my parents, which is a given. I have to thank my parents for everything. They’ve been very supportive of my writing. Which is not normal for Nigerian writers cuz a lot of my friends don’t have that support from their parents. Now for their dedication reads for Umma and Abba for a lot of reasons, but mostly for everything ever. The inspiration and all the support JazakumulLahu khairan. And to Safia Elhillo, whose Alien Suite made my words flow. So for my parents, my mom hates my book title cuz she’s like, Why hell? Why can’t I you something else? Why do I have to put hell? You know? It makes me laugh all the time.
Ruqayyah: Oh my God, I think this reminds me of initially the reason for the title because you were obsessed with Hades, right?
Hauwa Hala: Yes.
Ruqayyah: And Hades is the king of hell. So hell had to come in.
Hauwa Hala: It had to, it had to. I couldn’t. I couldn’t just, I had to, I had to represent, and for my dad because, well, I got the original idea from him. Like if it hadn’t been for that Saturday in the car, I don’t think this book would’ve ever happened.
Hauwa Hala: And for Safia Elhillo, I, I am, I think I’m still obsessed with Alien Suite, it’s this medley of a bunch of her poems and she recites it so well, her voice has, beautiful quality to it. I would listen to Alien Sweet on repeat throughout 2019 and most of 2020. I really loved it and it shows in my writing.
Ruqayyah: I think I actually asked you guys to go listen to Alien Suite on my last episode of Slammed, right? Oh, I made you listen to Aliens. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. That’s lovely. Alhamdulillah for that, Alhamdulillah for poetry.
So guys, if you didn’t listen to me last time, I said go read. Oh, not read. Go listen to Alien Suite when we did the Slammed episode. Please go listen to it now.
Hauwa Hala: I just thought of another writer’s quirk. That’s completely, it’s unrelated, but I write in colours. I use very bold colours when I’m writing. My background could be this neon orange
Ruqayyah: I remember,
Hauwa Hala: And then my words would be like dark navy blue. I don’t like it black and white cuz it just makes me feel more echhh, The colours help.
Ruqayyah: So now finally to the excerpt that she’s going to read out. Remember guys, we talk about books here. We fangirl over books. You can catch us once every month. And if you want to be a guest on this podcast, since I said.
This has gone smoothly, so we are totally making it a thing now In Sha Allah. So just send me a DM on Twitter @anchoredbywords with the title of the book that you want us to discuss, and then we will iron out the details now buy Hauwa Hala’s book, the link is in the description. And now over to her, she will read an excerpt for us.
Hauwa Hala: Okay, so this is the epilogue. I love this. This is my favourite chapter in the book. Epilogue. Ruination. The wind stilled.
And the curtain stopped their dance. The door remained silent as he opened it. His footsteps echoing in every corner as he stepped into the house, the door creaked as the wind picked up again, drawing it closer to the frame of the door before it shut it with the bang, she gasped awake.
The bang had frightened her out of sleep, terrified her even. The doors in her house never made any noise and neither did her son. Who was in his room blissfully asleep. Her heart beat in trepidation, in anticipation, fear, excitement. Her mind raced with possibilities, igniting a flicker of hope in her heart.
He walked deeper into the house, dropping his jacket and briefcase on the couch, slipping off his shoes by the little alcove near the stairs in sock covered feet. He tiptoed up the stairs, his hand sliding on the bannister as he got closer to her.
She threw the covers off of her, her feet brushing against the cold tile floor before she set them down firmly on the floor. The chill causing goosebumps to rise on her skin.
Ruqayyah: Whew. I have goosebumps on my skin. Thank you very much for that. Hauwa Hala Nuraddeen, it was lovely having you.
Hauwa Hala: It was a pleasure being here. And I just want to add that we wrote the My about the author together.
Ruqayyah: I remember that part. Oh, and in case you guys didn’t know, let me blow my own trumpet a little. I edited the book. Yes, yes, yes. So I think that’s why I know a lot about the process of the book, and we want to give a shout out to our little sister who crafted the questions because we have too much ADHD to come up with the questions ourselves. So a shout out to Janah. Thank you for the questions and I will see you next time guys.
So don’t forget, send in your suggestions. If you want to collaborate, send them in and do not forget to buy our author’s book, Tales From Hell. Oh wait, that’s the name of the trilogy, A Place Called Hell. It’s the name of book one and I will see you next time guys. Fi AmanilLah. I leave you in the keeping of God.
Buy the book here: https://pabpub.com/books/294?prints
I listened to this podcast with my mother and she loved it wholeheartedly. She admired the raw talents from such young women. I especially loved the questions.