Book Collaboration

What’s It Like Working With Maureen? 

A Question-and-Answer Session with Collaborating Author Hemal Sharifzada

Hemal Sharifzada and Maureen Dixon

Hemal Sharifzada and Maureen Dixon

Why did you want to write a book?

I felt the need to tell my story, but more than that, I felt it was important to talk about the cultural impact on people when they are taken away from their homes by the state. I also want to help people understand how difficult it is to reconnect with your biological family once you’re in the foster care system and emphasize the toll foster care takes on the young people placed in that system.

How has Maureen helped you achieve what you want to achieve through this book?

By working with Maureen, I’m learning more about myself, my family, my heritage. Maureen writes from the heart, which is important to me. I want to open people’s hearts to the Afghan people, where culture is a big part of family. I was born into an Afghani family when the USSR invaded Afghanistan and spent my earliest years there. Then less than two years after coming to America, I was dropped into a whole new society and culture – foster care.

What have you learned through working with Maureen?

Maureen is very organized, and she helps me keep my thoughts and larger ideas in an understandable order – she makes sure the common threads throughout the book are tied together.  She helps me dig a little deeper to find the true meaning of my words. She’s respectful and non-judgmental as well as culturally sensitive, and she’s helped me work through the feelings that have come up through writing this book with her.

You’ve mentioned that some of the issues that have come up in writing this book have been challenging. How has Maureen helped you keep going?

There’s definitely been some ‘stuck’ moments for me. Maureen is flexible and adaptable, but she also keeps things moving forward. At the same time, a lot of the issues that have come up are emotionally charged for me. Maureen has a good sense of what I’m comfortable with, and even when I want to keep pushing, she’ll stop me if she senses it’s not the right time.

What would you say to people considering retaining Maureen as the co-author of their book?

Maureen is very good at telling a story from the heart. She is also very patient and knows how to ask the right questions. She’s a wonderful person, and it’s a pleasure to work on this project with her. When you spend 30 minutes with Maureen, you’ll realize she’s the one you want to write your book.