Safina Mazhar Workshop

Safina Mazhar.

First known for her fan-fiction; fantasy author Safina Mazhar captured the imagination of teens across the globe and went on to write the Power of Four series. Now Mazhar is returning to her Glaswegian roots, to share writing tips in a Mitchell Library Workshop (on December 19).

Mazhar said: “I have been writing novel length stories for over seven years. I wrote a Harry Potter fan-fiction named, The Dark Prince Trilogy, and published it on Fanfiction.net. Somehow my stories gained an impressive readership, and a lot of people ended up liking them, reviewing them, and writing their own fan-fictions based on them.”

This series of stories were translated over 12 different languages and accumulated over 21 thousand reviews. Building upon this success, Mazhar decided to establish her own legacy of novels.

 She said: “After years of writing and enjoying it, I decided to try my hand at an original piece; The Power of Four Series.

“The Power of Four series tells the story of Aaron Adams, who discovers a secret about himself, on his fourteenth birthday. It follows his journey to discover who he really is and what part he has to play in a dangerous war.”

Keen to share her inspiration with readers, Mazhar agreed to host a Creative Writing Workshop at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library, in association with the Young Muslim Glasgow (YMG) Group.

YMG Volunteer and Event Organiser, Dr Sahira Dar, said: “Safina Mazhar is a local Muslim who young adults will be able to relate to – she went to a Glasgow school and understands the challenges facing the city’s youth. This empathy makes her passion more infective and her success more inspiring.”

Dar explained that the workshop aims to encourage kids to not only read and write, but to break social barriers.

She said: “Reading and storytelling are cross cultural passions that can unite people from different backgrounds.

“Ethnic and religious minorities can often be pigeon holed; so we must show our youth good examples of successful professionals from all spheres; to inspire them and introduce them to areas they may not know.”

The workshop welcomes novice writers and will build skills from the bottom up.

Starting at 10am, attendees will enjoy introductions and ice breakers.

Dar, said: “We have asked the young adults to bring a book by their favourite author and to share their thoughts on this choice.”

Then the day will be split into two workshops with the morning session covering writing techniques and, after a complimentary lunch, the afternoon running a creative writing circle. The workshop will finish at 3.30pm.

Dar explained that the workshop was aimed at 11-16 year olds from all backgrounds.

She said: “Tickets are £10, and prior to attending registration is required at EventBrite website.”

She concluded: “We hope the workshop will inspire youths and broaden their horizons.”

Day of the Dead

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Honouring lives lost and risked for Mexican freedom of Expression is the Mitchell Library Day of the Dead event.

Hosted by The Scottish Writers’ Centre in partnership with Scottish PEN, the event will take place on November 2 -from 5.30pm- in the Glasgow Room.

The free, un-ticketed event will see readings both about the country and from its writers.

Host and writer Jean Rafferty explained: “We’re celebrating the Day of the Dead to honour ‘Absent Friends’ and commemorate the courage of writers, poets, and journalists living and working in Mexico; one of the most dangerous countries in the world for freedom of expression.”

Rafferty has organised the event as part of her role within Scottish PEN.

She explained: “PEN is an international writer’s organisation whose Scottish branch has been gathering for nearly 90 years.

“Scottish PEN supports freedom of expression in every form. For instance, I am chairman at the Writers at Risk society, which supports people who have been threatened for speaking out against their government.”

While the society has paid tribute to Mexican writers before; Rafferty explained that this event has particular significance.

She said: “This year’s Day of the Dead event will be particularly poignant, as we have Mexican writer Lydia Cacho as an honorary Scottish PEN member.”

Rafferty added: “As well as being a great writer, Lydia runs rescue centres for women that have suffered sexual and physical abuse. Lydia’s work will be read at the event.”

The event will also feature readings from Anabel Hernandez, whose novel Narcoland exposes Mexican drug cartel, an exposure which has seen threats on her life.

Rafferty said: “As well as established writers, we will also hear from Mexican student, Bernardo Otaola Valdes, who has written a very moving piece about his plan to go back home and study journalism. Studying journalism in a country like Mexico is dangerous; and shows that Bernardo fits the night’s theme of Courageous Writers”.

She added: “As well as Bernardo’s reading there will be a reading from a Mexican poet, Javier Sicilia’s work. Javier lost his son to the violence, and wishes to share his own final verses.”

Following this there will be an ‘open mic’ section of the night. Here writers can take the stand and respond to the theme: ‘Mexico or Courage in Speaking Out.’

Writers wishing to participate in the open mic section can contact Rafferty via email.

The organiser explained: “The open mic section has seen applications from various people, including Portuguese film writer; Carla Novi, who has made a documentary Desaparecidos, about the disappeared Mexican students.”

Rafferty concluded: “Scottish PEN not only cares about the writers whose lives are endangered in Mexico, but the people all over the country, whose experiences are expressed in the writing.

“Freedom of expression is a basic human right. It is important to support writers because they represent everyone’s struggle.”