Zinet Kemal

Zinet Kemal, is a cloud security engineer, an award-winning children's book author, speaker, and a master's degree student in Cybersecurity at Georgia Tech. She is a wife and mother of 4 kids. She also volunteers at a non-profit as a board director. Zinet is an immigrant from Ethiopia, now in Minnesota made her way to be a multi-award-winning cybersecurity practitioner.
  1. Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story? 
    Both my children’s books “Proud in Her Hijab” and “Oh, No …Hacked Again!” are award-winning children's books inspired by my own children’s questions and experiences. Both are for kids between the ages of 6-13 years old.

    Proud in Her hijab is my first children's book published in 202, I wrote it inspired by my kid’s years of questions they ask me about their hair types and hijab. Proud in Her Hijab is a story that empowers and uplifts girls who choose to wear a hijab while encouraging friendship and respect. Also, to create awareness for readers about the importance of appreciating diversity & inclusion and embedding appreciation for others’ faith as well as cultural differences. Proud in Her hijab is the recipient of the 2022 writer’s digest winner under young adult fiction.

    Oh, No …Hacked Again! is my 2nd children’s book published in 2022 and received an award & a wonderful Kirkus review. I wrote this book inspired by the experiences of my own children. During the pandemic, I noticed how my children were spending more time online gaming or for school. With that exposure, I also saw two of my children’s gaming accounts get hacked on more than one occasion. A story to teach children the important message of online safety and to spark interest in young readers, especially girls and girls who look like me, to consider cybersecurity and the STEM field as meaningful career options.

  2. Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?   
    The most difficult process is finding the right illustrator that works with your vision and for your story. As a children's book author, I feel like there is an extra precaution and pressure to make sure that the language used aligns well with the children’s intended age group. As a self-published author, I like that there is freedom of creativity but it’s also a lot of work coordinating with editors, illustrators, and book designers/formatters to bring the books to life.

  3.  Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
    I am an immigrant from Ethiopia. I moved here 9 years ago to MN and I grew up with no access to a children’s book or never owning a children's book of my own. When I came here, I was fascinated by the access and the number of beautiful children's books. But just before coming to the US, I was able to get my hands on a few of John Grisham's books and I loved Trevor Noah’s “Born Crime.” 

  4. What inspired you to start writing? What is your favorite place to go for inspiration and/or your favorite place to write?
    My kids are my inspirations for both books Their questions and our conversations prompted me to write our story so that our experiences will solve a problem for others.I must say I wrote both books from my own home during the midst of the pandemic, but I will have to say my greatest ideas come to me in the shower and I know because I am getting a break from my kids calling me “mommy” for 100th time in there.

  5. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time? 
    Reading, spending time with my 4 kids and husband, and learning more about the industry I work in cybersecurity at a Fortune 500 organization.

  6. Favorite place to visit in Minnesota?
    My family loves the original pancake house We love visiting different parks with the kids too.

  7. Where can readers find you online? 
    Website: www.zinetkemal.com
    Facebook: @zinet_Kemal
    Instagram: @zinet_Kemal