It’s that time of the year again: NaNoWriMo is upon us!

For those who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month. To celebrate, thousands of people around the world undertake the 30-day challenge, as they attempt to write a complete novel by the end of the month. Throughout the next few weeks, you’ll find plenty of encouraging NaNoWriMo tips online. But to give you that extra bit of inspiration, our friends at the Emirates Literature Foundation have put together a list of local UAE talent who’ve made the jump to becoming published authors! So if you’ve always dreamed of writing a novel, the time is now! Fire up your imagination and get writing!

Aisha’s Pearl by Julia Johnson and Maitha Al Khayat

National Novel Writing Month books

The latest book from this pair of Dubai-based duo tells the charming story of Aisha, who makes a very special discovery — and enlists her grandfather’s help to learn more about her treasure: taking her deep into her very own adventure. With easy-to-follow prose and charming illustrations, this delightful collaboration between two powerhouses of Dubai’s growing children’s literature scene is an educational dive into local history with a fun, imaginative twist. A perfect addition to any bookshelf!

Citrus the Smoothie Sloth by Ebtisam Al-Beiti

The titular star of Al-Beiti’s latest bestseller has a very special talent: Citrus loves making smoothies from the rainforest fruit! He really wants to share them with all his friends, but the other sloths are just too sleepy. His friend Millie the Monkey has an amazing idea to help his dream come true. The only question is: Will it work?

Citrus and his friends are brought to life in vivid colours with adorable illustrations. And as usual Al-Beiti has put together a sweet and lively tale that will see readers young and old reaching for a smoothie just as often as they keep reaching for this book. Add it to your holiday wishlist already!

The House of Whispers by Anna Kent

National Novel Writing Month books

This spine-tingling tale of toxic friendship and secrets follows the story of Abi Allerton, a housewife and amateur painter who reconnects with Grace, a friend from her university days, when she lets her stay over while her husband is away. However, it’s not long before Grace begins to overstay her welcome and inserting herself into Abi’s life — all while threatening to reveal her deepest, darkest secret…

Anna Kent is the nom de plume of author Annabel Kantaria, the inaugural winner of the Emirates LitFest Writing Prize, who has since gone on to publish 5 gripping novels. The House of Whispers is her latest. When she’s not working on her latest domestic thriller, Kantaria also serves as a mentor-in-residence to up-and-coming writers in the region for First Chapter, the ELF Seddiqi Writers Fellowship.

Illustrado by Miguel Syjuco

A literary mystery that draws from the politics and poetics of Manila, Illustrado tells the story of the apparent suicide of famous, down-on-his-luck Filipino author Crispin Salvador which sends the narrator — also named Miguel — home to the Philippines. As Salvador’s former student and only friend, Miguel must come to to terms with the death of his literary mentor, while also searching for his missing manuscript, which was said to detail the many secrets and crimes of some of the biggest crime families in the country.

In chronicling Miguel’s attempts to uncover who Salvador was, Syjuco weaves together a gripping tale that delves into the history of the Philippines whale also exploring many different narrative styles (poetry, interview, memoir, etc.). Illustrado, which was Syjuco’s debut novel would later go on to win the 2008 Man Asian Prize. He is currently a professor at NYU Abu Dhabi.

When I Wake Up by Jessica Jarlvi

National Novel Writing Month books

Another alumnus of the LitFest Writing Prize, Jarlvi is a published author with a few psychological thrillers under her belt now. Her latest, When I Wake Up, follows the story of Anna, a beloved teacher and mother of two who is left savagely beaten and in a coma. Anna didn’t see to have any enemies so news of the attack sends shockwaves throughout her family and their small Swedish community. It also gives rise to the biggest question of all: Who would have wanted Anna dead? Jarlvis’ writing is taut, propelling the story through its many twists, while also exploring the nature of people. It’s a good pick to curl up with in these cooler months.

Already written a novel and looking to get it published? Check out the Emirates LitFest Writing Prize and First Chapter, the ELF Seddiqi Writers Fellowship, both of which help give writers a leg-up on their journey towards publication. Applications for both are still open!

If you enjoyed today’s variety of book recommendations from Carmel Rosato, the International Communications and Projects manager at the Emirates Literature Foundation,  then you should check out his other suggestions on their blog. For more recommendations, tune in to their podcast, the Boundless Book Club and follow them on social media and YouTube to enjoy full sessions, author interviews, fun reels – everything in the name of books!