NAKIA WHO FOUGHT FEAR ITSELF is a 52,000-word MG horror #ownvoices novel. It’s Stephen King’s IT meets CORALINE, set in Singapore with a Muslim MC.

“Nakia” means faith in the Arabic language, but by the time Nakia’s twelve, she’s lost faith in everyone, including herself. Allah doesn’t save her beloved grandmother, papa’s deep in debt, the bank wants to kick them out of their house, and mama’s left home.

Nakia decides to make some cash to pay off the debts so that her mama will come home, but her attempts to fix her family go terribly wrong when she stumbles upon a strange statue and tries to sell it online.

A mysterious entity called Deva-Asura breaks free from the statue. Its dark magic manifests people’s worst fears, driving them to their deaths. When it possesses her sister and holds her parents hostage inside a hospital, Nakia must find a magical fire, light and shield to destroy it. But Deva-Asura is on a mission to reunite with its own family. Determined to stop her, it unleashes demonic spiders, mutant plant soldiers, and other nightmarish monstrosities.

Nakia must reclaim her faith and fight ten floors of her darkest fears to acquire the magical items and defeat Deva-Asura. If she fails, everyone she loves will die.

This is an #ownvoices manuscript because I’m a Singaporean Indian Muslim. I was selected as a mentee in the following competitions: WriteMentor 2019, Fall Fiction Fest 2018, Pitch Madness 2017, and Pitch Wars 2016.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Zareena Nazimudeen


By the time the man gave up the search for the statue, it was already maghrib, the hour when the sun slipped away into the horizon. Shadows gathered deep in the heart of MacRitchie forest where different spirits lived in harmony, just like the different races of people in Singapore. Mohini, a beautiful Indian spirit that wore jasmines in her hair, Malay vampires with glowing red eyes, demon-like Chinese hungry ghosts and long-dead Eurasians in traditional colorful tunics all hung out together here. MacRitchie wasn’t a proper forest, though. Once, a long time ago, it had been a village, but people had abandoned it. Now it was a water catchment area with a jogging track no one dared to use.

The man stood in the middle of the immense pit just meters away from me, scratching his head and muttering to himself. He’d already packed his tools, so why the heck didn’t he just go? My school blouse clung to me like a second skin thanks to the steamy air. I ached to slap at the mosquito feasting on my arm and stretch my cramping muscles, but if I made a single sound, he’d know that I was spying on him.

He wiped his hands on his orange overalls, smearing the black letters that spelled out National University Research with mud. He threw a glance behind him. I flattened myself against the ginormous tree trunk that was as brown as my skin.

A strong sweet stench of jasmines snaked into my nose. My tummy cinched tight. My gaze jumped from the towering trees to the unruly bushes. Not a spirit in sight. It was too early for them.

The crows stopped cawing, the crickets stopped buzzing, and even the leaves grew still. A sudden hush fell over the forest. My toes curled in my scruffy school shoes, and I gripped the scratchy bark. It was okay. There was still time. Weak sunlight snuck through the leafy branches. Ummachi—Grandma—always told me spirits didn’t like lights. I forced my heart to stop its crazy clamoring. I would be fine.

With a muttered curse, the man clambered out of the pit and disappeared into a thick crop of trees.


I shot out from my hiding place. My school shoes scrunched dead leaves, snapped twigs, and rustled bushes. I relished the soft sounds that jarred the silence and beat it back to the edges of the forest. My tummy finally stopped doing flip-flops. I shoved my way through fat bushes. My skirt snagged on a gazillion twigs before I reached the edge of the gaping pit that ruptured the forest’s ground. Deep. At least a few meters. But if the big guy could do it, should be easy peasy for short, skinny old me. I sat on the edge, pressed my hands against the ground and slid down the wall of dirt.

The thin beam of light from my ancient I-phone couldn’t cut the growing gloom that pressed on me from all sides.