Nora Shkodra is our youngest YAMI yet. At just 15 years old, she’s already written and published her first novel which centres on gang violence and it’s consequences.
Speaking to the young author, it’s clear that she’s passionate about her work and hopes it inspires other young teenagers like her to avoid gangs.
She divulged that she writes to add a value to others, and make them think in a different way that they might not in a given situation. This story, and the future ones to come are not just for entertainment, but must serve a purpose which is exactly how I feel about my own writing.
It’s truly inspiring to see such a young one be already so determined to want to make a change in the world through her writing. I’m excited to see her journey unfolds in the literary world, but for now, read on to learn all about her current novel, what inspired it and how far she’s come from starting it out as an assignment in school, to a published novel!
Let her words inspire you.
S: Did you write the novel with an audience in mind?
N: Yeah because I live in an area where there’s lot of gang violence, and I don’t want people to get involved in it. I’ve had friends that had been in gangs and it’s scary to think of what they get up to at night because that’s when most of it happens and these are really young people. They are more likely to be victimized by the older ones who get them into the gang by manipulating them and getting them to do things. They make them carry drugs because the police are least likely to stop young people for that. This serves as an advantage for getting really young people into gangs.
So my book shows the consequences of what could happen if someone gets involved in these things at a young age.
S: Is this inspired by a true life story?
N: No, it’s all fiction. I wrote it from the point of view of twins. The female character’s twin brother gets involved in a gang. So she tells the story of what happened to him. When anyone reads the book, I believe they will then be able to tell signs of people who are involved in gangs.
S: Do you have any idea of how these young people get involved with the gangs to begin with?
N: I think young people that get involved with gangs are usually the type that feel rejected in their families and feel that they are not as appreciated. So the gang represents a new family for them and they can feel appreciated. The gang makes them feel like they belong because they are treated that way.
S: When did you start writing the book?
N: It started when I was in year 9 and now I’m in year 10. My PSHE(Personal Self Health Education) teacher told us to do a newspaper article about the consequences of gang violence but I didn’t feel like doing that so I wrote a short story instead which I later turned into this novel because I liked the idea that I came up with. I wrote it all by hand in an exercise book.
S: Wow, that’s really old school (laughs)
N: Yes, I feel like my imagination works better when I’m writing by hand; and I can take it with me wherever I go!
So, once I had it all written down, I typed it up and did the editing.
S: Well that’s amazing, because everyone in your class obviously got the same assignment, but yours turned out to be a book that is now published!
S: How does your teacher feel about it?
N: She had said that if it gets published I should let her know, but unfortunately, she’s left the school now and I’m not really sure of how to go about contacting her. But hopefully she sees it in the shops one day and remember my name.
S: Before the assignment that led to your novel, had you ever thought about writing?
N: Yes, I previously used to write a lot of short stories about magical kingdoms and the sort, but as I’ve got older, I’m now writing stories that have an added moral value.
Actually my first book which isn’t this one that is now published, is on Wattpad. It’s on there for free to give people an idea of my style of writing and then they can buy this one. I had thought of publishing that one, but it didn’t teach anything about morals like this one does.
Depending on my mood, I enjoy fantasy books to make me imagine things and give me a break from the real word but I also like the book- The Perks of Being A Wallflower which basically teaches us to be kind to others. Or a book by John Greene called Looking for Alaska which teaches that everybody has their own issues in life, so don’t judge but give them a chance to explain.
S: What would you like the readers of your novel to take away from the story?
N: I would like people to tell somebody if they notice any signs of someone else being involved in a gang. The dedication of my novel is to all teenagers, and they shouldn’t be afraid to tell. That’s what I want people to know because they aren’t more afraid to tell, but are of the label they’ll get when they do. Like wanting to prevent being called a snitch. But all those words mean nothing when you’re saving somebody’s life.
S: Do you plan to write more novels?
N: Yes, the book that I’m currently writing is about a girl with an eating disorder. The book is mainly for girls but could also relate to boys. It shows that we’re all beautiful in our skins and should learn to love our body because it’s the only one we have.
S: How long did it take you to write the book?
N: Overall, it took about a year because I took a break in between because of my exams and then sometimes, I had writer’s block.
S: How would you say you overcame the writer’s block?
N: Sometimes when I’m stuck, I go and have a chat with my mum and ask her questions about life, and it gets me thinking, or I just watch a movie, or read a poem or listen to music.
S: Can you offer any advice to young aspiring writers?
N: A lot of people might say writing is boring, and it may put them off because it’s so educational and nowadays, teenagers don’t really care about school as much. But they should read a lot, and not just one genre but everything! And if they’ve written the book, they should try and contact publishers
S: What did your family think about turning the class assignment into a full scale writing project?
N: At first, they thought it was homework because I would just sit in the living room and write. But when I finished writing it, I told them and my dad was actually the one who wanted to read it the most.
S: How long did the editing process take once you were done writing?
N: It took about 3 months and then it got printed.
S: How can people buy the novel?
N: It can be ordered from my website, but unfortunately can only be sold in the UK for now.
S: Did you have any challenges while writing the book?
N: The most challenging was not being able to write during school hours because i had to do the work set in class.
S: What did you enjoy most about the process?
N: I love that I can make an impact on my readers.
S: If you could write the book again, would you do anything differently?
N: I wouldn’t write the book by hand. It did get a bit tiring.
S: What has been the reactions of your friends?
N: My best friend was the first person to read it and she said she was so engrossed in the story that she didn’t want to stop reading it. Some of my teachers have bought the book and it makes me happy to know there are people who are supporting me.
S: Do you have other hobbies?
N: A part of me likes acting, but I’m also quite shy. And I hope one day, my book could be turned into a movie.
S: Do you have any goals for 2015?
N: I’ll like to finish the book that I’m currently writing; and possibly make a mini movie out of my published book.
S: What should your readers expect from you in the future?
N: Maybe a book of poems because I write poetry as well.
It was great interviewing Nora, and it definitely inspired me to keep working at what I love doing, and I hope her experience has done the same for you!
Check out her links below and definitely grab a copy of her book via her website.
Facebook: Nora Shkodra
I’d love to leave you with this little wisdom from Karl Marx, the great Sociologist and Philosopher. He described four main ways in which man is alienated in the domain of work due to society’s structure. He enthused that man is alienated from the object he produces, from the process of production, from himself, and from the community of his fellows.
However, I believe that in this regard, the young creatives that are featured in the YAMI series, by steering their own directives in life and work, surpass this alienation of men.