Last night when I met Shireen Jilla (dressed in smart New York style in a black sleeveless shirt-dress and high heeled nude shoes) at West End Lane Books she told me she had to fight hard to keep the understated design. Here's a debut novelist who knows her market and has guts, I thought.
Exiled is Jilla's third complete novel, and like so many new authors, she too had to wait, and wait, and yet wait some more, before she got her first book published. 'Patience is the most important quality a novelist can have,' she says.
Due to her journalistic background (she works for The Standard and The Times), Shireen Jilla places great importance on the editing process. 'I have no qualms about cutting out whole passages.' In fact the first draft of Exiled included another whole plot stream where the protagonist, Anna, back in England, reflects back to her New York life. 'All the action was in New York,' Jilla reflects. Removing those paragraphs caused a re-write, which in turn made the novel such a quick and enticing read.
Signed copies of Shireen Jilla's debut novel, Exiled are now available at West End Lane Books and England's Lane Books, at £12.00.
Shiren Jilla is also going to be appearing at The Telegraph Hay Festival on Tuesday 31st May 2011.