Independent publisher expresses gratitude to SIBF for kick-starting her career

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Sharjah — 2020 may have been the year that brought the world to a standstill but for independent publisher, Sunono, based in Scotland, it is just the start of a promising journey, says CEO and founder Feda Shtia at the 39th Sharjah International Book Fair, currently on at Expo Centre Sharjah.

“What makes our first ever book fair experience even more special is that it was a chance introduction at an earlier edition of SIBF, that paved the way for my journey into writing and publishing,” says Shtia, who launched Sunono earlier this year.

She explained: “A couple of years ago at SIBF, I was introduced to a project launched by the ‘1001 Titles’ initiative of Sharjah-based cultural organisation, Knowledge without Borders, that supported independent authors with finance and even guided them through the entire formalities of publishing a book. Authors were introduced to publishers and illustrators and we attended workshops and lectures to upskill ourselves.”

Armed with this solid foundation, she decided to start small and self-publish a series of four bedtime stories in 2017-18, featuring DeebDeeb, modelled on her young son.

She adds: “My experience of teaching Arabic as a first language to Arab students and as second language to international students in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for 14 years had also kindled the desire to create books that encourage children to read and learn the language with pleasure.”

Born in the UAE with Palestinian-Jordanian roots, married to a Scotsman and now living in the UK, Shtia was also inspired to develop books with multicultural characters that allow children to travel the world through stories, and accept and respect cultural differences.

Establishing ties with like-minded authors and illustrators to create children’s fiction under the series, Tales from the Trees, she decided to publish both fiction and Arabic language reading books under Sunono – an Arabic word for ‘swallow’, a migratory bird found across the globe but which always returns home.

“The name was inspired by my mixed cultural upbringing and my longing for my roots and heritage,” said Feda. “I believe, no matter where you go, your ties with your roots never fade.” — SG


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