Emirati schoolgirl Aysha Al Naqbi launches debut novel Blue Moon

Speaking at the book launch, Al Naqbi told us it is a surreal feeling to be a young published author.

Aysha Al Naqbi signs copies of her novel Blue Moon at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Antonie Robertson / The National
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It was more like a birthday party than a book launch. There was a cake, desserts and a stream of well-wishers. And standing in the middle of it all at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair was 13-year-old Emirati schoolgirl Aysha Al Naqbi, who has just published her debut English-language, young-adult fantasy novel, Blue Moon. Set in North Carolina, the tale follows the adventurous teenager Prim, who faces new challenges after she finds herself in a remote village.

The American setting was not a big leap in imagination for Al Naqbi. Her father is a diplomat, and the family has followed him all over the world – from Kazakhstan to Manhattan – before returning to the UAE five years ago. Speaking at the book launch, Al Naqbi told The National it is a surreal feeling to be a young published author: "It feels like a celebration. I can see the joy on my parents' faces. They are very proud."

How would you describe Blue Moon?

aIt’s a novel that I would say is science fiction but has hints of fantasy. There is a sequel that I hope I can publish this time next year.

How did the story come together?

My family and I were out in a restaurant in Yas Mall in April last year. The idea popped into my head and I straightaway put it on my phone. After that I continued writing the story whenever I had free time.

When did you realise you had a novel in your hands?

I never really thought about it that way. It was my dad who said, “If you finish it we could publish it”. I remembered the word “if”. So I kept working at it.

This is the Year of Reading. What would be your advice to other children?

Find a friend to read the book with you. That way you can talk about it. My friends and I buy copies of the same book and we discuss it. It’s almost like a reading family. It’s lots of fun.

Blue Moon by Aysha Al Naqbi is out now through Kuttab Publishing and is available at Abu Dhabi Book International Fair, Hall 10