Interview with Arissa from Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah

saffron-dreamsShaila: Thought I’d never see you again.

Arissa: You’re never going to get rid of me. I will haunt your days and nights!

Shaila: But I didn’t kill you in the novel.

Arissa: Yeah, but you told someone there is no sequel to Saffron Dreams.

Shaila: There isn’t but at least you are in one of my books. Many characters never see the light of day.

Arissa: That’s true. Now that I have you here, I do have some questions for you.

Shaila: Shoot away.

Arissa: Why do you hate me so much?

Shaila: What do you mean?

Arissa: You were cruel to me in the book. Killed my husband, had me attacked, and gave my child a rare abnormality. To top it all off, you gave me a demon for a mother.

Shaila: I also gave you two divine parents-in-law and a great husband for three years.

Arissa: Granted but still my character had her fare share of burden to bear. You created me but I had to endure it all.

Shaila: True, but I have been told, your character bore the brunt well.

Arissa: I could have had a better life.

Shaila: Yes but lessons that were told through your life could not have been effective any other way.

Arissa: Can I ask you for a favor? Next time, can you be a little bit gentler to your character?

Shaila: Can’t say I can keep that promise.

Arissa: Why not?

Shaila: The next book is about the street children of Pakistan and promises to be a real tearjerker.

Arissa: (groan)

Shaila: How about I ask you a few questions now?

Arissa: Ask away.

Shaila: Why were you such a freakish planner in the novel?

Arissa: You gave that trait a big boot, didn’t you? Didn’t follow any of my plans.

Shaila: No, I didn’t. I decided you needed some unexpected twists in your life to throw you off kilter. Was losing the veil hard for you?

Arissa: It was a tough choice and made me realize that my decisions were larger than myself and were dictated by my unique circumstances.

Shaila: Is it a good choice, leaving the veil behind if you opt to live in the West?

Arissa: I am not certain it is the right choice for all veil wearers whether they live in the West or East. It is not about how hard you want to fight your battles but also which battles you want to fight. Ultimately it is every individual’s personal decision. I did not fight that battle hard enough because I had other factors in my life to consider. That decision did not come without a price tag, though.

Shaila: What else would you like to share with the readers about Saffron Dreams, Arissa?

Arissa: Saffron Dreams is an important novel to read to understand about the changed identity of ordinary Muslims in post 9/11 America. It is important to understand the working and mindset of Muslims by filtering out the extremism carried out by a small group of people who happened to be followers of the same faith. Condemning all followers of Islam on the basis of the actions of few misguided souls is a grave injustice to society.

Shaila: Thanks to the Plot for having us on. More information about the book is available at You can also contact me at


You can find a wealth of information on my website at including a reading guide, excerpt, reviews, and buying information.

For those with comments and questions, I can be reached at If you mention The Plot, you will receive a free e-book called A Taste of Saffron, containing recipes of dishes mentioned in Saffron Dreams. Readers who sign up for updates on my website will get a free excerpt of my 2005 book, Beyond the Cayenne Wall.


About Nyx

Podcaster, baker, zine reviewer and maker.

Posted on April 21, 2009, in Character Interview. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. LOL, I remember fighting with one of my characters…they can sure be feisty!

  2. I’ve just gotten past the point where Arissa finds out about a problem with the child she is carrying. In all seriousness, I slipped my bookmark into the pages and realized I was sweating from the emotions I was experiencing.

    Amazing book!


  3. Wow, Cheryl. That’s a very powerful reaction. Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts when you finish the book.

    Shaila Abdullah

  4. Great interview, Shaila! Fiction writers have all the fun. 🙂

  5. Shaila,

    I can’t wait for you to get to my site on the tour! I just finished Saffron Dreams and it’s nothing short of stunning!

  6. Shaila,

    This interview is great. I love the playfulness of this kind of writing and how the characters can be so predictable. Enjoy the rest of your tour! “Saffron Dreams” is sure to go a long way!


  7. Arissa seems every bit as life-like as you, Sheila. What a fun interview to read! And the book sounds truly fascinating. Once my own tour simmers down I hope to be able to read and write more, and I’ll surely keep your novel on my to-read list :^)

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