Nadiya Hussain rose to fame after winning the sixth series of The Great British Bake Off and has since presented her own cookery shows, including Nadiya’s Fast Flavours as well as Nadiya: Anxiety & Me, which takes an in-depth look at how she and others live with anxiety and panic disorder.
Nadiya has published eight bestselling cookery and storybooks, including Nadiya Bakes, the Amir Sisters series, which is centred around identity and family, My Monster and Me, her first picture book, as well as Finding My Voice, which takes a look at the different roles Nadiya plays in her life and how they have shaped her.
Nadiya makes regular appearances at cookery events throughout the UK and abroad. She was also featured on the BBC’s list of 100 Most Influential Women.
You’re an amazing success story, having accomplished so much in the last decade. Is this the life you envisioned?
“Before appearing on The Great British Bake Off, I was studying to become a social worker. I was also a stay-at-home mum with three young kids. After winning the show, my entire life changed and I found myself catapulted into a career I had never imagined myself in. And I am loving every moment of it.”
How and when did you decide to write your first children’s book?
“I started writing my first children’s book six years ago. My kids were much younger and I loved that I was writing books that they could be a part of and enjoy. Writing for children really allows me to enjoy letting the childish part of my imagination out.”
Your first children’s book, Bake Me a Story, is an amazing concept, especially with its unique blend of cooking and storytelling. What inspired this approach?
“I wanted to write an interactive book that we could bring to life with this unique concept of getting families into the kitchen to spend time sharing stories and cooking together.”
The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters was billed as a British-Muslim take on Little Women. What inspired this story?
“This book allowed me to be creative with the characters and write about what I know, including immigrant families, fitting in, struggles and life, in general, but from a very different perspective.”
How has your personal journey influenced the narrative in My Monster and Me?
“As an anxious child, I was always told that I was a worrier or that I was an overthinker. I never read a book that explained what it meant to feel worried, so it was important for me to tell a story that explained anxiety. It is a book that I would have benefited from and I know many are benefiting from today.”
In Finding my Voice you question your identity. What have you come to learn about yourself through this book?
“Questioning my role in society and my identity has been a big part of my self-exploration. But as a first-generation British woman growing up in an immigrant home, my story is different – a story many will identify with and be intrigued by. So it was an absolute must for me to talk about this journey, for better understanding, acceptance and appreciation of diversity.”