Rida Khalid is a Muslim refugee from Iran. She is bullied by two girls at school for wearing a hijab (Muslim headscarf), reading books and wearing glasses, and seeks refuge in an old man’s garden after school. Rida meets an Asian girl at school, Ky, who also loves books, but Rida soon dumps her for a gawky girl, Carmen, who teaches her about fitting in. To be accepted, Rida removes her hijab at school, but she must wear her headscarf whilst competing in the inter-school sports. Her family will attend.

Rida deliberately loses the first race because Carmen says, “Only nerds do well in sports”. The sports master berates Rida for losing the race and points to Ky who’s made an extraordinary effort to get out of hospital to watch her run. Ky is battling leukaemia. Rida wins the next two races and gives her winning ribbons to Ky for good luck.

Rida enters the State Athletics Championships, but two athletics clubs lodge an objection to her hijab. Rida is shocked when a retired Queens Counsel (QC) represents her at the Equal Opportunity Commission. Who is he? Will Rida win the case? Will she run in the State Championships? Will Ky beat leukaemia, and who owns the garden that Rida has used as a sanctuary?

What is the Tag Line for your book? (A short description of your book in a sentence or two)

Winner of an award in the Australian National Literary Awards. Rida is a Muslim girl who is bullied at school by two girls. She was a refugee and meets Australian people who help her when in trouble. She is also a great reader, wears glasses, is a champion runner and also wears a Muslim hijab. This is a powerful story about modern bullying.

Do you write full time or part time

I have been a full time author, poet and photographer for 17 years

How do you structure your day when you write

Mm ... All day every day. I am now busier than I was ten years ago. Every day I am conscious of utilising my time to achieve the best outcomes. Priorities are always on my mind. However, when I am writing a novel, it is 10 hours every day until finished. Usually, a 100,000 word novel will take me three months.

Why do you write? (Example; For fun, to make extra money, a personal experience you want to share with the public)

I have always had a great imagination, and I find it easy to write. I guess it's a gift.

What inspired you to create this book

I wanted to write about bullying. This is about modern bullying, where social media outlets are used.

What genre do you write in and why did you choose it

I write young adult fiction but,strangely, all of my books are enjoyed by folks from 8 to 80 years-of-age. I have had an extraordinary life, travelled the globe, lived in four countries, speak three languages and have seen many amazing things. Thus, I wanted to pass on my experiences in an entertaining way. However, I always have role models in my stories, and many young kids today do not have a good role model.

How much research did you do on your book? (If it applies)

A lot. I studied all sorts of bullying and included all of them in this story.

How do you think you have evolved creatively from when you first started writing until now

Massively. Never enough hours in the day.

What was the hardest thing about writing this book for you

Nothing. I loved it. I have always been involved in human rights and social justice, so it came easily.

What was the most rewarding

Producing the entire book, including the cover with my own photographs. Why not? Also, writing about a Muslim kid who is bullied, and about an Asian girl who is demonised. Both girls end up as best friends. This book won an Award in the Australian National Literary Awards in 2006.

If you had to start over, is there anything you would do different

Not really. It has been an amazing journey.

How have you evolved from when you first started writing until now

Greatly. I have learnt so much about producing books, I could write a book about it.

Are you a planner type person, or do you prefer to dive right in when you write

I shoot from the hip. Have an idea and go! The story takes on its own journey.

Do they influence your writing


Do you recommend being a part of a support groups to help you with your writing

Maybe. I'm very self-motivated but I will listen to any advice offered. If a group helps, join it.

Do you work with an editor If so, how much input do they have

I have excellent editors. You must find one that is compatible. Mine always ask sensible questions and I normally agree with them.

Was there anyone in your past that you think influenced your writing

My grandfather - maybe.

Do you have any tips or useful resources on marketing

Sell your brand. It's a tough gig.

How are you publishing this book? (Indie / self-published, traditional)

Self-published like all of my books.

What are your thoughts on book series

Yes, I have one already, and another on the go.

How long do you think a book should be? (Pages or words)

A story is a story. That's it. Do not pad out your stories. I have novels and novellas; some long and some short.

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers

Network seriously and return the favour. Be nice!

What advice would you give to your younger self today

Head to Thailand immediately.

What is your favorite book or film

Any by John Grisham or Lord Jeffrey Archer.

If you don’t already have one, do you have plans to have a book trailer and what are your thoughts on them overall

I've done five but none of them seem to sell books.

What are you working on next

Another screenplay which will go to all movie houses. And, three novels.

When you get frustrated, how do you deal with it

I don't.

What advice would you give a writer that is just starting out

If you don't have the passion, don't bother. This is a tough business. Network, work seriously, get organised, maintain your own voice at all times, don't take yourself too seriously and be humble.

About the Author


Clancy Tucker is an award-winning author with three awards in the Australian National Literary Awards. He writes young adult fiction for reluctant readers, but has also achieved success as a poet and photographer. Clancy has lived in four countries, speaks three languages, has photography accepted and published in books in the USA (Innocent Dreams, Endless Journeys & A Trip Down Memory Lane), used as covers for magazines (‘The Australian Writer’ – 2008 and ‘Victorian Writer’ - 2008), has work registered with the International Library of Photography and been published in literary magazines. He’s written more than 146 short stories and has a sizeable collection of bush poems. Clancy’s won, been short-listed, ‘Commended’ and ‘Highly Commended’ in writing contests: 2006, 2007& 2011 Australian National Literary Awards, Raspberry & Vine (twice), Positive words, Australian Writers On-Line, Shaggy Sheep Tale, The Cancer Council Arts Awards (2005 & 2008), The Dusty Swag Awards (2010) and had twelve short stories published in literary magazines (Page Seventeen, Branching Out, Positive Words and The Australian Writer), newspapers (The Standard, Mountain Views & The Advocate), written articles for Kid Magazine in the USA, and won a poetry prize to name a life-size statue designed by renowned Belgian sculptor, Bruno Torfs. Clancy is a full-time writer but has been a speechwriter, senior public servant, farmer and small business operator. He teaches students at the University of the Third Age (U3A), mentors emerging writers, has worked with street kids, and draws on life’s experiences to write entertaining stories for kids. Clancy also writes a daily blog which includes top guests from around the world: human rights lawyers, authors, musicians, artists, illustrators, senior diplomats, young adults and many more: Check it out. He has also been a guest on dozens of blogs, writes a monthly editorial for a newspaper and contributes articles for literary magazines. Clancy has also been a contributing guest editor for the Australian Prostate Magazine. Not only, Clancy has been a human rights activist and social justice campaigner for decades.