The Deb Ball Welcomes N.H. Senzai

N.H. Senzai, an avid traveler has lived around the world. Somewhere along the way she attended UC Berkeley and Columbia University, while pursuing her passion for writing.  She has now landed back home in San Francisco where she lives with her husband, a professor of political science, her son, and a cat who owns them. During the day she can be found working for a consulting firm that helps companies with their inventions and patents.

Her debut novel, Shooting Kabul was released last June.

Fadi never imagined he’d start middle school in Fremont, California, thousands of miles away from home in Kabul.  But, here he was, half a world apart from his missing six year old sister who’d been lost because of him, as they’d fled Afghanistan. Adjusting to life in the United States isn’t easy for Fadi’s family and as the events of September 11th unfold, the prospects of locating Mariam in a war torn Afghanistan seem slim — impossible. Desperate, Fadi tries every hare-brained scheme he can think of to find her. When a photography competition with a grand prize trip to India is announced, Fadi sees his chance to return to Afghanistan and find his sister.  But can one photo really bring Mariam home?

Welcome to the Ball…

On Loss & Self Discovery

Thank-you for inviting me to “chat” with you at the Debutante Ball! My debut middle-grade novel, SHOOTING KABUL, came out on June 22, 2010, and I’m feeling very much like a Deb myself! When I was asked to do a guest blog, I checked out the topics the Debs were exploring in August and was excited to see that Alicia Bessette’s debut novel, SIMPLY FROM SCRATCH, was coming out on August 5. The description of the book sounds fantastic, and two things in particular really caught my eye – one, it deals with loss – the protagonist, Rose Ellen-Roy, is dealing with the tragic death of her husband, and second, there is a contest involved (for deserts, yum!) where wants to use the prize money to honor the memory of her husband.

My own debut, SHOOTING KABUL, has both elements as well – while leaving Kabul in the middle of the night, the protagonist, Fadi, loses his sister Mariam in the crush while escaping the Taliban. Fadi’s family, forced to leave Mariam behind, end up in San Francisco as refugees, desperately seeking their six year old daughter from afar. In order to get the funds to find her, Fadi enters a photography contest. So both Rose-Ellen and Fadi confront a truly devastating loss and our debut novels follow them both as they embark on the path of love, hope and self discovery.

All of us have lost something at one time of our life or another – a favorite earring, the car keys, a close friendship, and the ultimate – the death of a loved one. With each loss there is a gamut of emotion – shock, disbelief, guilt, anger and fear. In dealing with loss one goes through a series of stages – there are classic five steps the experts talk about – 1: Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”; 2: Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame; 3: Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will do X,Y or Z.”; 4: Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”; and 5: Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

What I’ve learned is that in the intense personal journey of dealing with loss, you learn a lot about yourself. Pushed to the limit, you look into the deep recesses of your soul and, hopefully, find a way to cope and come out a better person. Putting myself in Fadi’s shoes, I put the both of us through a lot in having him deal with the horror, grief and guilt over feeling responsible for losing his little sister. Fadi’s journey through SHOOTING KABUL deals with him facing his feelings, learning to forgive himself and unearthing the gumption to take on the responsibility of finding Mariam, no matter how impossible that appeared. He learns about his weaknesses and strengths and reaches out for help from others. Best of luck to Rose-Ellen as she discovers how to cope with her loss and discovers strengths she never knew she had!

5 Replies to “The Deb Ball Welcomes N.H. Senzai”

  1. And best of luck to Fadi in his search for Mariam! Just as you journeyed along with Fadi while writing about him, I took on my narrator’s sorrows during the writing process as well. The writer Jenna Blum once told me that she thinks of herself as a “method writer” — taking on the emotions of her characters in the same way method actors do.

    SHOOTING KABUL sounds amazing, and I look forward to reading it. Many thanks for guesting here at the Ball and congrats on your debut.

  2. Sounds like a terrific book! You captured the process of dealing with a loss so well in this blog that i’m sure your book is wonderful.

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