“I want my books to educate minds, open and warm hearts, and bring readers closer together.“
— Lilas Taha
A member of the Writers’ League since 2022, Lilas lives in the Austin area.
Scribe: Welcome, writer! Tell us — what do you write?
Lilas Taha: I write multicultural fiction. An engineer by education and training and an advocate for domestic abuse victims by choice, I am a writer at heart. I try to bring my Middle Eastern background and my professional interests together in my novels.
Scribe: If you could choose one author to blurb your book, who would it be, and what would you want it to say?
LT: Khaled Hosseini could say that my books strike a balance between cultural, historical, social and political themes and bring to focus the common human values and trials shared all over the globe. My novels reflect the complex reality of first generation immigrants face in America and abroad.
Scribe: You have one book you’re allowed to push onto all of your friends, and they’re forced to read it to remain your friend — which one would you choose?
LT: Beloved Prophet: The Love Letters of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell. The book compiles tens of letters shared by the poet and famous author of the timeless book, The Prophet and his number one fan, Mary Haskel. The reader can see the development of literary talent and the struggle behind the birth of a ingenius work. It’s uplifting and disheartening at the same time, opening a window into the working mind of a writer who left an unforgettable work.
Scribe: Tell us your WLT story.
LT: Before I moved from Houston to Austin in 2022, I knew of WLT as I had attended the conference in 2013 and loved its atmosphere and lively, positive interactions. I was very encouraged by the correct information I received about the process of publishing, which was something I knew nothing about. I pushed through my hesitation and kept reaching out to agents and acquirers of publishing houses. My first novel was published the following year and I kept my WLT membership live for a couple more years but I was unable to attend any more activities in person. Two more of my books were published and now I am in Austin, happy to join again and connect with this wonderful community of writers.
Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?
LT: I’d love for my books to reach readers who are un-informed about the topics I write about. Crossing cultural barriers, and hopefully breaking some down, is a goal I had set to myself when I switched from my engineering career to the creative writing sphere. I want my books to educate minds, open and warm hearts, and bring readers closer together. Though I’m a repeat winner of the International Books Award for two of my books, I strive to earn recognition of more prestigious literary awards to affirm my continuous efforts to improve my skill.
Scribe: Here at the WLT, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one book that has come out within the past few years that you couldn’t put down? (Bonus points if the book is Texas related!)
LT: Nights When Nothing Happened by Simon Han. I liked the Plano, Texas backdrop to this immigrant family’s tale caught between cultures.
Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!
LT: I was born in Kuwait to a Syrian mother and a Palestinian father and immigrated to the US as a result of the Gulf War in 1990. Having experienced displacement, and knowing of my parents’ difficult journeys years before as well, I value freedom and the sense of belonging above everything else for all of mankind.
I wrote my first novel, Shadows of Damascus, out of frustration when civil war gripped a country I love. Family members from my mothers side caught in the cycle of violence occupied my mind as I wrote how the events spilled over to the US. The novel was published in 2014 and was a finalist for the 2015 Award of Excellence at the Colorado Romance Writers Awards in the Mainstream with Romantic Elements category.
I wrote the second novel, Bitter Almonds, in an effort to draw my father out of depression after realizing he would never go back to his homeland. Sadly, my father passed away weeks before I secured a publishing contract for the novel, but I feel his presence between the pages. The novel won the 2017 International Books Award in the Multicultural Fiction category.
My third novel, Lost in Thyme, is a fictionalized homage to my personal immigrant journey. I discussed themes of displacement, historical and political influences, and the concept of social integration. The novel won the 2019 International Books Award in the Inspirational, Multicultural Fiction genre. Though it could be a stand alone book, I wrote a sequel to expand on its characters, which came out in Jan 2023 under the title, Found in Thyme.