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#FirstDraftFriday with Shirin Shamsi

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Shirin Shamsi is here this #FirstDraftFriday to share how her forthcoming picture book, THE MOON FROM DEHRADUN: A STORY OF PARTITION, came to be. Read below, then get writing about something that inspires you.

Cover of The Moon From Dehradun

Shirin is generously offering a manuscript critique as a prize for someone who completes a draft today! Details at the end of this post.

Shirin Shamsi’s picture book,

THE MOON FROM DEHRADUN, illustrated by Tarun Lak, will be out early next month from Atheneum Books for Young Readers. She is also the author of ZAHRA’S BLESSING: A RAMADAN STORY, illustrated by Manal Mirza, which was released from Barefoot Books earlier this year.

To learn more about Shirin and her books, visit:

Shirin, can you tell us a little about your book and what inspired you to sit down and write the first draft of it?

THE MOON FROM DEHRADUN was inspired by my mother’s childhood experience of the Partition of 1947. It’s a story I heard many times as a child. I knew I had to share this family history with my own children, and now I hope to share it with the children of the world.

What was your drafting process like? Any hiccups with getting the first draft done?

It was difficult for me, as I felt very overwhelmed emotionally each time I began writing this. I put it away many times, thinking that I would return to it eventually.

How did the manuscript change from that draft to what it is today?

The manuscript has changed many times since the first draft. There was a refrain in the original, with onomatopoeia sounds of a train chugging along.

Are you a pantser or a plotter? And how does that affect your drafting of a story?

I am more of a pantser. That is why it takes me years from first draft to complete story. That’s just how I work. I have decided to embrace the way I write. Of course, I am learning and growing as a writer, and have found that after ‘pantsing’ the first draft, I try to ‘plot’ some revisions.

What is the hardest part of drafting a story for you?

I think the hardest part of drafting a story for me is getting down the first draft without editing it. It’s a struggle to hold back from editing until the whole draft is on paper.

What are your tips and tricks for getting that first draft committed to the page?

Lock away your inner editor and critic. Trust your creative inspiration, and simply let it pour out onto the page, without any judgement.

That's what #FirstDraftFriday is all about - pouring that story out onto the page/screen! So let's get to it!

To enter for a chance at a free critique of a picture book manuscript from Shirin (1000 words or less, fiction, prose), do the following by 8 pm ET today (Aug 5, 2022):

  1. Follow both me and Shirin on Twitter: @HollieWolverton @ShirinsBooks

  2. Complete a full picture book draft

  3. Return to this blog post and comment that you’ve completed your draft and provide your Twitter handle. You will need to Sign Up/Log In to leave a comment (it’s easy - just an email and password).

You don’t need to send in your draft or provide proof - we’re all about the honor system here! The lucky winner will be randomly drawn from the comments and announced on Twitter shortly after 8 pm ET tonight.

Happy writing!

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karen pickrell
karen pickrell
Aug 06, 2022

Congratulations on your book, Shirin! Thank you for the inspiration! I didn't write a first draft but I had a story storm of new ideas.


Made it just in time! Thank you so much, Hollie and Shirin for this generous opportunity!



Reed Hilton-Eddy
Reed Hilton-Eddy
Aug 05, 2022

Done! It's lumpy and bumpy but there is something on paper with a beginning, middle and end!


Aug 05, 2022

Thanks Shirin for sharing this interview, and a bit of your writing process. I am looking forward to reading your new book! I finished a first draft of a PB today, and thank you Hollie for the push! :) @HernandezSteena


Aug 05, 2022

Thanks Shirin for inspiring my new picture book!!! @janycampana

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