The Genesis of Fozia and the Quest of Prince Zal by Rosanne Hawke
The wonderful Rosanne Hawke has written about her new book Fozia and the Quest of Prince Zal and how it fits into her flood series. Set in Pakistan, these books are of great appeal and interest for mid to upper primary and are published by UQP.
Here Rosanne gives a special insight into her writing process.
First, in Kelsey’s story (Kelsey and the Quest of the Porcelain Doll) there was a girl called Fozia who had survived the worst flood in Pakistan’s history. She wasn’t very kind to Kelsey because her little sister had drowned and her parents couldn’t be found. Then Jehan in his story (Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog) found a lost dog called Lali in the flood and they both lived in a tree. When they arrived at a tent city Lali discovered Fozia there because Lali was Fozia’s dog. For the first time Fozia felt hope. Someone was alive in her family, even if it was Lali. Jehan was so kind to her that her stony heart softened and she came to live with Jehan’s family.
Now Fozia has a story to tell. She is scared of being happy and loving Jehan’s family because she has a family secret. She thinks she will be asked to leave if Jehan’s parents discover her secret. She wishes there was someone else from her family still alive, so she tells a story based on the tales her parents told her about Prince Zal. Her heart grows bigger as she remembers. Jehan and Amir love Fozia’s story, and when Jehan says he loves her and wants her to be his big sister, her heart bursts open and fills with liquid love. Now she hopes she doesn’t have to leave.
Once I knew Fozia had a story to tell, I used an embroidered journal to write ideas, research and to plan the novel. Here are a few snippets from the journal about Fozia’s story.
18/1/18 I drew a mind map of Fozia, her hopes and fears, her skills and what makes her special. She wants to find her family but she’s frightened of anyone discovering her secret. She’s good at sewing and crafts. This is how I get to know my characters.
May 2018 I wrote that I must decide how Fozia finds her parents and drew a mind map for ideas. Much later, during an edit, I wondered if she finds them or not.
Late May 2018 I drew a mind map to get to know Prince Zal.
I did research on human-eating leopards and found one terrorising a village in northern Pakistan. The Guardian said that big cats were more feared than global terrorists in North West Pakistan. At the time I wondered if the leopard could be a metaphor for the flood in Fozia’s mind. But the leopard becomes part of the story Fozia is telling the boys, and it could be seen as an image of the brick-kiln owner. I already knew about the Pakistan 2010 floods, so I did research on peacock chicks, leprosy and brick kilns in Pakistan. I found there are 20,000 brick kilns in Pakistan. Many people become bonded to the owners as they need to borrow money if there is a special need like a wedding or illness. A family can make 800-1000 bricks working a fourteen-hour day. They receive less than six Australian dollars a day, so it’s difficult to pay back a debt.
27/7/18 I drew a story board for Fozia’s story and Prince Zal’s story to make sure they connected. Drew a mind map to discover more events that could happen in Zal’s story.
19/4/19 Finished the zero draft and drew a story arc like a huge ‘S’ to check plot causality and tension. Also, I drew one for Fozia’s emotional journey. Did she grow gradually? Did she have agency? Many more drafts followed.
Sept 2019 I delivered the manuscript to UQP.
Covid-19 delayed publication to 30 March 2021, but it gave me more time for editing!
See here [link] for what I learned from those wonderful structural edits. For example, Fozia didn’t have enough agency after all, so I worked on Fozia discovering an innovative way to help her family.
Fozia and the Quest of Prince Zal is a story full of kindness, family and magic, innovation and community spirit in a time of disaster.
Rosanne Hawke is a South Australian author of over thirty books. She lived in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates as an aid worker for ten years. Her books include Kelsey and the Quest of the Porcelain Doll, a CBCA Notable Book, and Taj and the Great Camel Trek, winner of the 2012 Adelaide Festival Awards for Children’s Literature and shortlisted for the 2012 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. She is the 2015 recipient of the Nance Donkin Award; an Asialink, Carclew, Varuna and May Gibbs Fellow; and a Bard of Cornwall. She has taught creative writing at Tabor Adelaide and writes in an old Cornish farmhouse with underground rooms, near Kapunda.