A LANCASHIRE based artist has published her debut novel which she hopes will inspire local readers, proving that they too can realise their creative dreams.

Shahida Ahmed, from Nelson, is primarily known for her work in the visual arts, with Through Brown Eyes representing her first foray into the literary realm.

The novel begins in a local setting, with Nelson featuring prominently, and centres on a young woman of Pakistani heritage who faces many of the same struggles Ms Ahmed has herself throughout her life, while the narrative hopes to challenge stereotypes and traditional assumptions about Muslim women.

Ms Ahmed said: "It's very much an empowerment book for women.

"It's the story of a local South Asian girl who was born in the UK and it's really about making people believe that they have these stories and that they can do these things."

Lancashire Telegraph:

Through Brown Eyes, by Shahida Ahmed

Through Brown Eyes tells the story of 19-year-old Shama as she balances the lifestyle of her Western friends and the cultural traditions of her parents at home.

Shama's world is turned upside down when, on a trip to Pakistan, she is caught up in a romance with family acquaintance Saleem, leaving her facing a very different future from the one she had planned.

Ms Ahmed hopes that Shama's story will resonate with local readers and show them that their own stories are just as valid.

She said: "I'm trying to put Pendle and Nelson on the map, I'm bringing it home."

Turing to how publication came about, Ms Ahmed said: "One of my friends who's an actress said why don't you write a book?

"So I secretly started writing, it took two years to edit and a year to publish and hear we are!"

Using her skills as an artist Ms Ahmed, whose works have been sold in the UK and the Middle East, designed the book's cover herself.

However this was not always straightforward, with editing sometimes proving a painful process.

Ms Ahmed lost her brother last year and her mother earlier this year, with both now included in the novel's dedications section.

She said: "When I speak to young people I say that you see my success but behind that success there was a lot of pain."

However she also hopes that her success will prove to be good for the community and plans to use some of the proceeds to support local charities and to support young writers.

She said: "This is a gift to women, it's not about me it about them and their empowerment."

She added: "Everybody's got a story to tell, its just about putting pen to paper."

Shahida Ahmed is now already working on Full Circle, a follow up to Through Brown Eyes, which she says will make up the second part of an eventual triptych.

To order a copy of Through Brown Eyes, go to: https://austinmacauley.ae/books/through-brown-eyes/.