Omneya Shohayeb

Saved By The Book

Art Direction Yasmin Reda Photography Alaa Taher Shot on location at Sequoia

Egyptians often need a motivational boost, a life jacket to keep us afloat; and Omneya (Mony) Shohayeb has generously shared hers with us. Her compilation of short motivational stories, The Life Jackets, is a book that should be on everyone’s reading list.

Shohayeb has always wanted to write. Ever since she was a little girl, she would scribble anything on a piece of paper to express her emotions. Although the Egyptian author currently lives in Ontario, Canada, she has lived in Los Angeles, London, and Cairo. With an MBA in marketing and a master’s degree in communication management from the University of Southern California, Shohayeb juggles her writing career with her day job at eBay as an online content developer.

Her love of writing was always there, but Shohayeb didn’t know where to start, “I’ve always had a dream of being a writer and having my own book, but never actually done anything about it until now.” A friend of Shohayeb suggested she start a blog where she can post all her pieces. And so the journey began. Shohayeb launched her blog, The Life Jackets, a collection of her motivational and inspirational stories that she wanted to share with the world. “A life jacket can be any person, thought, or event that lifts us when the tide is high. Each story is unique. Each has a different perspective,” Shohayeb explains.

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Shohayeb didn’t settle, she wanted to take her writing to the next level. “I wanted to see people’s response to my writing before I actually started on the book.” With readers in over 72 countries, Shohayeb felt like it was the right time to follow her dream. Compiling 31 of her short stories, Shohayeb approached Daisy May Publishing in Ontario, Canada. “They were really supportive! They liked the idea of short stories because people have become used to fast reading,” she recounts. After the second round of edits, the cover was designed by Ashley Murphy.

Every writer looks up to a certain author, but for Shohayeb it’s a bit different. “I get my inspirations from the people I meet and the places I have been,”  Shohayeb explains. With most of her writing done on sleepless nights at three in the morning, Shohayeb enjoys personalising things, and turning them into an inspirational story. Her favourite short story, The Bride of the Nile, is the perfect example. “It’s a symbolic story about a girl who is in love with the Nile,” explains Shohayeb. The real bride of the Nile portrayed by Egyptian star Lobna Abd El Aziz in the 1964 movie, which provided inspiration for the story, enjoyed the piece and gave Shohayeb some great feedback.

The Life Jackets has proven to be a great success so far. Shohayeb has become a member of the Canadian Author Association, where she carries out public readings of her book. The book is also being used academically as part of the Mohawk College English language instruction course. As if that wasn’t enough, Shohayeb also received a congratulatory letter on her book from David Sweet, Canadian Parliament Member.

The talented writer shares advice for aspiring artists, “you have to write everything from the inside. Write in your free time because it all starts with a thought.”