Interview With Authors Sally and Jonah Ismael

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

We are Sally and Jonah Ismael, 17-year-old twins from Plano, Texas, practitioners of taekwondo, founders of the nonprofit organization The Power Within, co-authors of the memoir – The Night Blooming, and students of Plano East Senior High School. The Night Blooming is a memoir based on the journals we wrote over the past eight years as we trained alone in our home garage and how we developed the skills and techniques to help us survive the solitude we experienced in the garage.

# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

The Night Blooming – A memoir of two young children who kept moving forward, creating training opportunities of their own after being subjected to a traumatic experience of emotional, mental, and verbal abuse by their former martial arts master. They never gave up despite the obstacles they faced, and made their way on their own to the top. At the age of 10, they began a vision and eight years later, they achieved and lived that vision – The Night Blooming – an inspiring story of two children who dared to dream in the dark, and maintained courage, integrity, and positive behavior despite the hate they felt from others, the rejection they experienced, and the discrimination they experienced. The abuse, the negativity towards them, the isolation they experienced, and the pain that haunted them for the past eight years!! Eight years later, they have overcome their fears and doubts, and healed their scars on their own in a small garage where they grew up and developed on their own.

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

After many years of isolation and rejection, we faced our pain, conquered our fears and doubts, succeeded in healing our scars, triumphed over our obstacles, and achieved our goal of standing among the best athletes around the world at the World Cadet Championships in Uzbekistan. That moment of triumph inspired us to tell our story to every child, athlete and youth facing challenges, injustice, rejection, abuse, bullying and fears. Our mission was to tell our story and to inspire these children to believe in the strength within them and to keep moving forward no matter the obstacles they face and the pain they feel. We wanted to plant hope in their hearts and minds.

# How do you deal with creative blocks?

We found inspiration in the videos our mom has been taking to us during our training for the past eight years. These videos were taken to us during our training to give us an overview of our training and how to fix our steps, movements, and kicks and perfect our Taekwondo skills. When we began writing The Night Blooming, we went back to look through thousands of videos of our training in the garage, outside our house, in parks, and during our travels. We saw our abilities, felt the emotions, and recalled the memories, and this encouraged us to be creative and eliminated the obstacles that block creativity.

# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

We believe that not making the readers feel the emotions, living the events of the author’s journey is the biggest mistake an author can make. If the readers do not feel the emotions of the story, it means that the author did not succeed in presenting his/her story.

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

The book title and cover should be a reflection of the story, summarizing the struggles, emotions, battles, journey, solution, and the author’s life. When we chose the title we did after we finished The Night Blooming. We looked back through each chapter to see what represented our journey the most and our story. We found a lot of meaning in The Night Blooming title that encapsulated every event and every emotion we experienced in the garage. It reflected our pain, joy, defeat and broken hearts. Our story was reflected in our eyes and how we saw the loneliness and pain in the garage.

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you, and how do you deal with them?

We believe in diversity and respect different opinions and criticism. The past eight years we have spent training alone in the garage, reading books and researching have enriched us with a deep understanding of the psychology of human behaviors and how we can analyze these behaviors; Therefore, we don’t see bad comments or negative comments as negative, but as a constructing criticism that teaches us how others see our story and we try to learn from those opinions and comments. We look at different opinions and comments, even if they are negative, as a way to teach us how to be patient and reasonable in our reactions and try to understand that there will be other people out there who may not see our story the way we do. Here we can test our ability to accept and respect the differences of others. We all come from different cultures with different backgrounds and views on principles and concepts of life, which makes each of us unique with our personalities and personalities.

# How has your creation process improved over time?

It took us three years between writing our story and editing it, it was a long process that got better with time. It was not easy to write a book based on our journals written by us when we were 10-17 year-olds for eight years. The professionalism of writing was different every year and how we expressed our thoughts and feelings when we were young was different from that when we got older. It is certain that our creativity evolves every year based on our maturity, our understanding of our situation and our analysis of all the events that happened to us.

# What were the best, worst, and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

The process of writing our memoirs was the most difficult journey we have embarked upon. We faced many complex emotions between the fear of being rejected again after telling our story and the doubts about telling everything that happened to us. We’re still young, and we were afraid to go through this journey to reveal the personal and painful moments in our lives, but we were surprised to see the more writing, the more comforting we feel. We think the worst thing we have faced is going back again to the painful memories and trying to live them again, it was hard and difficult, many times we put our writing on hold for weeks because we could not emotionally and psychologically live the pain again but we were surprised to see how this process was a must to heal our scars and allow our story to see the light beyond the four walls of the garage and beyond the darkness we experience alone in the isolation in the garage.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two, and how?

There is a thin line between our personal satisfaction and our humanitarian purpose behind writing The Night Blooming. We have tried to balance the two. Initially our goal was to inspire, advocate and empower children facing hardship, injustice, rejection and abuse to believe in themselves and see our story as a living example of what they can achieve if they believe in the powers that is within them, but the more we were writing the more we found that our story inspires us, enabling us to continue our advocacy campaign. We charged our powers with positivity as we were writing The Night Bloom and we saw our victory for the first time, so we understood that The Night Blooming was also an inspiration for us and it was a personal motivation for us as well.

# What role do emotions play in creativity?

Emotions cannot be separated from creativity, we believe that emotions are the engine of creativity, they are the powerful force that makes us imagine, create and build. Emotions are the oxygen that creativity inhales, and without emotions there is no purpose behind creativity. We become creative when we are passionate about achieving something, curious to learn more and hold unique feelings about something we believe in. Emotions played a vital role in our creativity, and without the mixture of emotions we experienced in our garage The Night Blooming couldn’t see the light.

# Do you have any creativity tricks?

Creativity doesn’t need tricks, it’s a spontaneous reaction to events we encounter, it comes along with our feelings, emotions, perceptions of things that happen to us, and reactions to the many complex events we face in life. So creativity comes naturally but we can embrace it by reading, educating ourselves and sharpening our skills.

# What are your plans for future books?

The Night Blooming is the first book of a series of multiple books to empower and inspire young readers to know their own power. There are many stories we’ve had in the garage and on our travels internationally to twelve countries around the world to gain experience and knowledge of our sport, and people we haven’t yet talked about in The Night blooming. These stories need more time for us to understand and analyze them and see the positive side of them and the outcomes we carried from them, so we plan to continue writing books in the future about ways to find our powers and how we can see our pain in a different view than it appears.

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself.

During our garage training for the past 8 years we have used music as a driving force to keep us motivated training alone between four walls in our garage. We have been dancing and singing and trying to break the silence in the garage it was then that we had discovered our love for music and singing, even though our voices were bad, We enjoyed singing and listening to music, it was one of the strongest elements that made us see the garage as our place and our home, after it was our prison.



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