I love character interviews, so I’m pleased to meet the hero from Ms. Williams’ latest Muslim romance book. Let’s get started…
For the record, what’s your name?
Hello, Amber Daulton readers. My name is Xander Heath
What do you look like?
My build is tall and muscular, and I have a full beard. I’m taller than the other firefighters in my department. I am of Irish American descent, but I’m more black Irish, with dark hair and eyes and a slight tan to my skin.
Hmm. I’m definitely a big fan of dark hair and eyes. What time period does your story take place?
My love story, where I meet the beautiful Zaynab, takes place during current times, in a suburb that I just moved into to start my job at a new fire department.
Aww. What conflicts are you facing?
The biggest conflict I face is finding my place in the new local Muslim community. I am a new Muslim, and I have a lot of tattoos that I got before I converted. People at the nearest mosque often judge me based on my appearance, making assumptions about my commitment to my faith. I try to not let it bother me, and I won’t seek anyone’s approval, but it can be frustrating.
I’m sure it is. What did you think the first time you saw Zaynab?
Well, since I was pulling Zaynab out of an overturned SUV when I first saw, her, I only thought of her as someone I needed to rescue. It wasn’t until I got to know her by having Ramadan dinners with her at my friends Faiza and Mansur’s house that I noticed her beauty and wit.
What is your family like?
My family means the world to me. My parents have a deep affection for each other, even though they bicker a lot. I think that comes from being in a long-term committed relationship. They’ve set their way of communicating. It’s not my thing, but it has worked for them for decades. I do hope to have a bond as they have with someone, someday.
I hope you find it with Zaynab! Do you see morality as black-and-white, or with shades of gray?
Life is never black-and-white. People have too many layers and situations can be too complex to consider them so simplistically. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a simple guy who has come to know what he wants, and I try to be straightforward as possible in getting them. But I’ve experienced too many variables not to anticipate that things will probably get dramatic and screwy. They certainly do after I meet and fall for Zaynab.
Why do you think your author chose to write about you?
Lyndell? Well, she likes to write characters with backgrounds, personalities, and situations that people aren’t always used to seeing. I mean, look at me. I’m a tatted Muslim convert firefighter, not your run-of-the-mill romance hero. Sure, I may rescue people, but there are times when I need someone to get me out of a hairy situation.
Through me, I think Lyndell highlights some common issues in Muslim communities (intolerance, friendship, insecurity, and self-awareness) that connect to the human experience. Like in many of her books, she shows how much we have in common, no matter what faith we follow (or don’t).
Very wise words. Thank you so much for chatting with me, Xander.
Zaynab flees a dysfunctional marriage, saving herself from an emotional breakdown. After two years of therapy overseas, she returns to reconnect with the son she left behind. She is not looking to remarry, but then a sexy firefighter pulls her from a car wreck and catches her interest.
Xander moved to town for his new job at the fire department. He thrives at his new job but struggles for acceptance in the local Muslim community. When he pulls Zaynab from a wreck, he’s just doing his job. Soon, sparks fly between them.
As soon as sparks ignite between Zaynab and Xander, family and community threaten to snuff out their kindling desire.The Ex-Wife is a heart-warming novella with light steam between two characters with the hots for each other!
She wasn’t looking for love, but it found her.
Xander put the cup to his lips. He sipped, letting the drink wash down more delicious food as he watched Zaynab wipe smeared date pulp from Beni’s chubby face. She sat poised at the other end of the table; her face bright—beautiful. He never tired of seeing her every night, though it had thrown off his Ramadan.
One night eating at Faiza and Mansur’s house was all he expected. He would be in and out. Zaynab showed up at the same time as he, a pleasant surprise, as was Faiza’s inviting him to dine with them. He jumped on the chance to eat with his friends and see Zaynab again, crushing his plans to avoid distractions. She was a big one, with her captivating black eyes and enticing lips that drew him into accepting more dinner invitations.
Over the past few weeks of Ramadan, he enjoyed warm iftars with his close friends and her. At first, he and Mansur ate separately from the women, but they moved gradually to the dining table. It gave him a chance to get to learn more about Zaynab. The more he got to know, the more he liked. She was smart, funny and dedicated to her son. Xander put the cup down, not taking his eyes away from her. He tried his best to guard his gaze, but it was hard for him not to concentrate on her graceful movements when she was near. He hadn’t been so attracted to a woman since becoming Muslim. Like the grumbling in his gut and dryness scratching his throat during the daylight hours, her presence made him aware of another hunger he had to feed.
A bestselling author and award-winning writer, Lyndell Williams (Layla Abdullah-Poulos) holds a B.A. in Historical Studies and Literature, M.A. in Liberal Studies, and an AC in Women and Gender Studies. She is an adjunct instructor as well as an anti-racism and gender equity advocate. She is the senior New York trainer for the Muslim Anti-Racism collaborative.
Williams is a cultural critic with a background in literary criticism specializing in romance. She has been published in peer-review journals and presented at national conferences about Muslim and interracial romance fiction as well as racism, sexism and the Black Muslim experience.
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