Ritaj Hussain Alhazmi’s journey to author began in Aramco library
The daughter of engineer Hussain Alhamzi is the youngest series writer according to The Guinness Book of World Records.
From a very young age, Ritaj Alhazmi had discovered that she had a passion for writing. Her writing journey started when she visited a library with her father, Hussain Alhazmi, who works as an engineer at Aramco.
Her father asked her an intriguing question: “Would you want to see your book on these shelves?”
From that moment, she has kept her father’s words in mind. She wrote her first story at the age of eight, and even though it was rejected by an editor.,that did not stop Ritaj from following her dream. To the contrary, she started taking writing courses. By the time she was 11 years old, Ritaj’s had published her first fiction book.
Although she is young, Ritaj has great ambition. In this short interview, we spoke to the youngest book series author named by Guinness about her journey as a writer.
Q: Your journey as a young writer started in Aramco's Library. How did the library's programs and activities help you become the writer you are today?
A: Before returning to Saudi Arabia, visiting libraries and reading adventure books was one of my favorite hobbies enjoyed at a young age. My connection with Aramco’s Library started at age 8 when my family decided to continue that habit and take me to a weekly reading program. This program improved my reading and comprehension skills. It also increased my productivity and creativity. One of the programs offered by the library was called ‘the summer reading program. It was a reading challenge for young children. There, I read more than 50 books. These events that libraries hold is a great motivator for children who want to start building a life-long habit!
Q: You have written your first book at the age of eight. How did writing your first book change your process of writing?
Writing short stories was something you’d find me doing all the time. I never thought about the structure, how it sounded, or how people would understand it because I didn’t believe that I would one day show someone else my writing.
When I became older, my goals changed. I wanted to share my stories with others to invite them into the world of imagination I was living in. Writing the first book was a life-changing experience. I learned more than I thought I would about the art of writing. It was hard going through all those drafts in the first book, but it made the writing process much more manageable.
Q: Who is the author you most admire in your genre? And how has he/she influenced your own writing?
A: I have been inspired by many authors, such as Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell, who amazed me with their System Divine trilogy. From storytelling to the main characters, everything in the series was very attractive to the point where you feel like images are vivid in your mind. Since both of them teach the Save the Cat method (STC), I learned most of the writing tips and tricks. The courses they gave were helpful and very simple to understand, even when I had just started writing my first book!
Q: All of your published books were fiction. Does that mean that you see yourself as a fiction writer only or would you be interested in writing non-fiction as well?
A: If I was asked this question three years ago, I may have said yes. Today, I understand why I would say that I don’t consider myself only a fiction writer. Last year, I was sent by the Ministry of Culture to attend a creative writing program in the U.S. I began writing fiction to share my ideas with others. Now, I want to be more diverse in the genres I explore because I know that exploring is the most important thing to do, especially at my age.
Today, I have written articles about the topics I’m interested in, such as culture, climate change, and the digital world’s future. In addition, I am currently working on a non-fiction book related to the new generation and future sustainability.
Q: How does it feel earning the title of the world's youngest author of a novel series?
A: Receiving the title of ‘youngest series writer’ in Guinness World Records as a starting point, a gateway to many achievements in the future. It was a challenging goal to reach, but I found that I could challenge myself and reach incredible heights. When I feel like I’m not motivated, I’ll look back on this title. It will remind me of who I am and what I achieved. Nonetheless, the support of my family will always be everything to me!