Leena Althekair, at just 15 years old, is Saudi’s youngest national to publish a novel in English.
Putting her pen to paper in the summer of 2017, 14-year-old Leena began writing her first book, “Foreshadow” after initially having submitted the idea for it for a school writing assignment.
“I have always had this idea but it wasn’t clear,” she told local news, “but as I kept writing, it got easier and now it’s in the form of ‘Foreshadow.’ I actually wrote an essay for school and when I re-read it I thought, ‘You know what? This is a pretty good novel idea’ — and then I spent whole summer writing it.”
Althekair also admitted that not everyone believed in her ideas to publish a novel being so young and spoke about how she proved everyone wrong, “In the beginning it was hard, because people wouldn’t take me seriously. A lot of them didn’t say anything but they would give me strange looks. I focused on the people who supported me instead.” With the support of her friends and family, the young writer managed to land herself an exceptional book deal and has just made an appearance at Virgin Megastore in Jeddah to sign copies for her readers.
Leena’s writing journey wasn’t as smooth sailing as one would think as she speaks about having writer’s block and having to revise large chunks of her book, “In the middle of the book I started panicking because I had only planned it that far. There were times I deleted whole chapters right before sending it to the editor and wrote the whole thing again.”
After soldiering on and completing her book, she finally achieved her dream of having it published and proved that major accomplishments can be made at any age, “For me, it was never about becoming well known, it was getting the message across that age doesn’t really matter; what matters is that you need to work hard. You are never too young or too old to be chasing your dreams,” she told Arab News.
The 15 year old student’s debut novel is the gripping tale of Meghan, a young girl about to start high school who encounters a life changing accident whilst spending time with her brother, a physics nerd, in his laboratory.
Following her current success, Leena Althekair shows no signs of slowing down and says she has many more ideas and plans for future fictional novels including a sequel to “Foreshadow”.