Oman Observer

Young Omani novelist puts Arab culture on spotlight in first book

Her passion for books started eight years ago when she fell in love with reading after buying her first English children’s novel. From that awakening, Manar Zahir al Hosni, a law student studying at the University of Manchester, UK, has continued her fondness for literature which eventually led her to writing her own novel.
“I started writing in online websites when I was 12 years old. These websites were for free; so it was the perfect release for my overactive imagination,” she shared.
“This book, ‘Siren of the Desert’, serves as my ‘debut’ into the literary world. It is my first published novel, in the form of an e-book that can be found on Tapas’ App, an American company based in San Francisco. It can also be accessed on their website” she explained.
Manar have never participated in any writing contests. Back as a child, her leanings were toward the visual arts joining several contests and in fact grabbing several advanced places. For three contests which she joined, she won first place.
“Like any author, I aspire to be world famous. I want to be right up there with JK Rowling and James Patterson. A girl can dream,” she shared.
Talking about ‘Siren of the Desert, she said that she started working on the storing in 2012.
“By then, I had worked up a loyal following of over 10K on the Tapas website. I wanted to share with my followers how Arab culture is unique and radiant, and immediately thought to set my story in the Arabian Desert,” she explained
She added, “Sites like Tapas are highly competitive, so I thought a new theme would give my story an extra edge. Most importantly, it was a theme I was definitely familiar with. Indeed, the story went on to achieve critical acclaim since its publication with nearly 5 million readers and over 130 thousand ‘votes’.”
“For this very reason, Tapas approached me with a publication deal some four months ago. Tapas App can be downloaded from both App Store and Play Store. The story now has over 43 thousand reads,” she said.
As one of the conditions, the story was published online on the company’s website which made Manar very happy. She said that it was a dream coming true.
According to Manar, the story begins when Maria, a girl constantly described as a ’spitfire’ for her fiery temperament, disguises herself as a helper boy when Zain, a bandit, attacks her prosperous town in the middle of the Arabian Desert and claims it as his own, naming himself sheikh.
To Maria, it’s either stay hidden or risk being caught and forced into Sheikh Zain’s notorious harem, from which there was no return.
When Maria accidentally bumps into Zain one hot summer afternoon, revealing her long hair, Zain is captivated and intrigued by the boy who turns out to be a feisty girl. He immediately decides to capture and imprison her in his harem.
Growing into a woman who craves freedom above all else, Maria will stop at nothing to free herself from the devil himself even as she struggles against the tempestuous feelings that the very devil elicits within her, all while a treacherous enemy plots against them.
Manar is now on the process of writing her second novel which she said is set in historical Arabia.
“I will work to have this one published as a hardcopy. It’s my next goal. To hold a hard copy of my novel in my hands is my next challenge to overcome,” she said.
To access the story, visit https://tapas.io/series/sirenofthedesert

zainab al nassri