Aida Zaciragic

Questions and Answers

How did you start writing?

I grew up in a town that is famous for being one of the most beautiful small continental towns in Europe. It is called Jajce. We have always been proud of its beauty. It is a historic town that was an important hub during medieval times. I grew up listening to the stories about Bosnian kings who used to live there and they inflamed my imagination. In the center of the town there is a waterfall and the legends say that underneath the Walled City of Jajce and the waterfall there are hidden passages. Later I described all that in my  first fairy tale.

As many children do, I loved stories about princes and princesses. But as I got older and started writing, I became more interested in their life stories than the fact that they were kings. That is how my first fairy tale, “Kingdom of the White Lilies” came to be, inspired by the life of the last Bosnian queen Katarina Kosača and her children.

– What do you like to write about and what inspires you?

As a writer, I find inspiration in the real life events. When I write fairy tales, though, that is something else. Then I combine historical facts with my imagination. I find inspiration in different parts of the world too – Sweden, Japan, South Africa, Pakistan, Croatia, Italy, and who knows where else.

I like writing about my characters sometimes going through difficulties that they still manage to best in the end. Life is not always easy. Unfortunately, many people were not born under the lucky star. I still write about how there is always hope and the light at the end of the tunnel. I think that can be seen clearly in my books.

– What did you like to read when you were a child?

When I was growing up, I liked reading classical fairy tales. Although there was not that much choice back then. I enjoyed stories such as Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Gulliver’s Travels. However, even though I like classical fairy tales, I am aware there is a certain way in which they portray female characters. It was a different time, after all. A writer has a lot of power and the way they present their characters is very important because everything we read affects us, and it especially affects smaller readers who are precious to us.

One character who stood out to me during my childhood was Pippi Longstocking. Pippi was unique because she was independent, adventurous, and didn’t follow the usual rules. Her crazy adventures and strong, independent personality made her an exciting and unusual hero.

In today’s world, we celebrate the power of storytelling to inspire, educate, and shape young minds in a positive way. It’s a reminder that as authors  and as parents, we have a responsibility to choose books that empower and uplift children, helping them to become confident, compassionate, and open-minded individuals. After all, the stories we share with the precious younger generation have the potential to mold their values and shape the future they will create.

Why did you want to write about Malala Yousafzai

As a writer, I find inspiration in the real life events.  When I heard her interview, I immediately knew that I would write a story about her. She is truly an unusual and fascinating young woman.

She stood up for the right to education for girls in a region where it was denied. Her courage can inspire children to stand up for what they believe in and pursue their dreams. Learning about Malala’s story can help children become more aware of global issues, such as gender inequality and the lack of access to education in certain parts of the world. This awareness can instill empathy and a sense of responsibility to contribute to positive change.

Who illustrated your book?

Ana Grigorjev. She is truly an amazing illustrator and winner of many awards.