Today I have the honor of interviewing one of the people in my writer’s group, Dixiane Hallaj. She has been the group’s guru on self publishing since she self published two of her books. And because she has been one of our senior members she has been our inspiration to keep writing no matter what our age. She shows that you can get your message across no matter how old you are, and that for me personally, since I started writing after a career in nursing means a lot. Her courage to write about a politically sensitive issue is also an inspiration. I figure if Dixie can do that, I can do anything. And she keeps surprising me. Before I knew it she had
finished her second book. Then I found out she had been teaching at George Mason University the whole time she was writing it. She is a marvel. And now without further ado here’s part one of the interview, part two will be my next post:
1–You have two books out about a family in Palestine. Can you tell me a little about them?
The books highlight one family of Palestinian refugees living in the Kalandia Camp in the West Bank. Spanning the years from 1974 through the present, they present daily life in a close-knit family against the backdrop of the violence and repression of military occupation. Born a Refugee carries the reader through trauma and tragedy to the joys of marriage, while the second, Refugee Without Refuge, continues through suffering and loss to show the rage and desperation that give birth to a suicide bomber.
2–What are the personal experiences that led you to write these books?
My husband is a Palestinian whose ancestral lands were taken in the 1967 war. I lived in Jordan and Palestine as part of his extended family for 11 years, listening to their stories and learning the language and culture of the society. Many of the incidents in the first book were the experiences of my own sons as they grew up in Ramallah. In 2004 I spent time in the refugee camps listening to the stories of the women as research for my doctoral dissertation. While none of these stories were used, the attitudes and life conditions form much of the basis of my work.
During my time in Palestine I was deeply impressed by the strong family values that are held and practiced at every level of society. It is this mutual support that allowed the individuals I knew and loved to overcome unimaginably difficult obstacles that often litter their lives. This devotion to family and mutual support is what I want my readers to think about when they hear the word Palestinian. Too often in today’s world the only impression the average person has of Palestine is what is seen on the news—the violent, the shocking, and the passing moment of media attention. I hope than my readers will come away from my books with an understanding of Palestinians as human beings living under impossibly harsh conditions, who still manage to maintain hope and humanity.
Both books are available from Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle editions. Refugee Without Refuge is also available in a Large Print edition.
More information can be found on my website www.hallajs.com along with short descriptions of my other publications, including the works in progress.
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