Many thanks to my dear friend and poet, Beth Feldman Brandt, for “tagging” me to participate in The Next Big Thing—a way for writers to discuss and promote their work- in-progress by answering the same set of questions about an upcoming project. Beth has tagged me and I, in turn, will tag two other writers.

Beth and I met at Ragdale in 2010.  She is the lovely and talented author of SAGE, and her ongoing and upcoming work can be found on her website, Please check out her site and explore her writing as well.

Tag Questions:

Sheila F. Flaherty, author of East of Mecca
Sheila F. Flaherty, author of East of Mecca

What is the working title of the book? 

The final title of my book is East of Mecca.

Where did the idea come from for the book? 

I am an American clinical psychologist.  East of Mecca was inspired by my own experiences and the stories I heard while working secretly (without a work-permit) on an Arab oil company compound on the Persian Gulf in Saudi Arabia.

What genre does your book fall under? 

Literary fiction/Women’s studies

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

In my wildest dreams, Laura Linney would play Sarah (the protagonist), and George Clooney would play her husband, Max.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? 

United in an unlikely and illicit friendship, two women—one American, one Saudi— struggle to escape brutality and possible death in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? 

I’ve been telling the story of East of Mecca in one form or another for twenty-four years!  Writing the first draft of the novel took approximately three years.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

I was inspired to tell the story after witnessing first-hand the heartbreaking oppression of all women living within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  To create a sense of genuine empathy for those women whose faces we can never see, I have taken readers under the veils and behind the walls of the women’s quarters.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?   

East of Mecca explores Arab culture in general, the specific experiences of Arab women, universal gender politics, and the abuses that too often accompany absolute power.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?   

Self-published with a KickStarter launch in July of this year.

My tagged writers for next week are: 

Still to be announced!

Update (03/20/2013):

I would like to introduce my three “tagged” writers

Melissa Heisler

Melissa is an excellent professional life coach.

Mark Rader

Mark is a Ragdale buddy, writer friend, and mystical connection.

Jason Sarna

Jason is a writing-group buddy, friend, and one of the funniest writers I know.

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