Please tell our readers a little about yourself.
I am a 26 year old Belgian citizen who has been living in Beirut, Lebanon. I’ve always loved to write, I used to scribble on my school’s notebooks, and participate in all awards related to short story writing etc. during high school. I struggled to find my academic path once I got into college; I started as a pharmacy student. But I always knew deep down that all I wanted to do had to be related to languages, books, and arts. This is why I transferred to Translation, got my B.A, then moved to media and communications for my Master’s, and ended up now as a PhD. candidate in Psychology of Communications. Varied path, I admit, but I love it, it gives me so much insight on different fields.
Could you tell us a bit about your book and why it is a must-read?
My book is a must-read for our generation of teenagers and young adults because it is very new. It deals with everyday topics such as social media and its impact on our lives, body image and how we perceive ourselves after we’ve been either fat shamed or skinny shamed. It also discusses relationships and how sometimes we cannot differentiate between right and wrong, real love or settling. All those messages are very indirect and run along a fiction and modern story.
What inspired you to write your book?
What inspired me were my experiences, of course. My friends’ experiences, my surroundings, and definitely what the world has been going through with all that technology surrounding us.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
I believe it was opening up… in an indirect way. A book is always a self-therapy for an author and the worry always creeps up before the first readers give their feedback. But when that happened and it was positive, I was delighted and all worries got erased.
Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
Yes! I cannot write in a secluded place. I know, it sounds so contradictory, as writing usually needs concentration and calm. But I always need sounds, noises and people around to be able to focus. So I’m usually at the nearest Starbucks, with my laptop, thanking the barista for the coffee machine’s constant noise!
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The title came last actually. I had finished my draft and had to start printing and I still had no title. So I called my best friend (he is a writer as well) and we decided to brainstorm. I wanted something related to “happiness” without falling into clichés. We looked up Serendipity and it was so perfect for the story; as the character is in constant search of happiness, but ends up finding it with a stroke of luck, unexpectedly!
Is there a message you want your readers to take away from your book?
Yes definitely! Love yourself for who you are, stop listening to nasty comments; you will NEVER be able to please your surroundings. Stop looking for yourself on other people’s Instagram pictures; be your own inspiration. And finally, don’t settle simply in order not to be alone, true love will come your way once you are ready and independent.
Do you have any advice for the yet-to-be-published writers reading this?
Never stop writing! If it’s your dream go for it no matter who tells you what.
What's next for you? What are you working on now?
Right now, I am working on my PhD. But I am pretty sure that as soon as that is done, another book might be in the making.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, etc.) and link(s)?
I have a personal blog, www.danslebazardetam.wordpress.com , they can also email me on: firstname.lastname@example.org or simply follow me on Instagram: @tamara.abikhalil
Chasing Serendipity is a fiction novel that tells the story of Tala from her teenage years until her early adult years. The storyline is not set in a specific country, therefore any person who reads it is able to identify and relate to the character. Tala goes through teenage love, breakups, friendship falling-outs, body shaming, and extremely low self-esteem due to social media’s unattainable beauty standards. She decides to leave everything behind and try to find her happiness by traveling to Europe. She meets Henry Jones, a rich and charming businessman who makes her an extravagant offer. She follows him to New York City and lives a glamorous life until she reaches a crossroad where she has to decide where her true happiness lies. The main messages Chasing Serendipity is trying to portray are the social media impact on today’s youth, the psychological effect of fat and/or skinny shaming, and the relationship status within the youth.
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About the author:
Tamara Abi-Khalil is a 26 years old Belgian citizen residing in Beirut, Lebanon. She graduated with a B.A in Translation and foreign languages, of which she speaks Arabic, French, English and Italian fluently. Then, she graduated with a Master’s in Media and Communications studies, and is currently undergoing a PhD. in Psychology of Communications. She is a ballet enthusiast as she has been practicing for almost 13 years. Her other passion is writing; she has always loved to write, and has won several short story awards while in high school. She created an amateur blog a few years ago where she shared her cultural experiences. Last summer, she decided to write her first novel which she self-published and launched in December. She is currently working on advertising it to a wider audience.