When Fatima Taha was 5 years old, she traveled back to Pakistan—where she was born—to celebrate an uncle’s wedding. It was for a few months during the summer, and she remembers getting heat rashes in the 100-degree weather. But her mother had enrolled her in karate classes while they were there, so she hi-yahed her way through the pain.
She also found time for another pursuit.
“I enjoyed reading so much that I’d sit outside on the roof while my uncle studied for his medical exams and would read all night,” says Fatima, who was born in Karachi, a Pakistani city where the streets are always full of people and the scents of deep-fried street food like bhel puri, pakora and samosas. “I’m still a night owl and sometimes read until the light comes through the windows.”
Attending high school about an hour from Atlanta, Fatima began participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, where she solidified the idea that she would one day be a writer and eventually a novelist.
After graduating, Fatima earned a degree in English literature from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in the same subject from Georgetown. Then, she started teaching at private schools and community colleges. Now, Fatima is pursuing her doctorate in comparative literature from the University of Maryland and, in her spare time, uses texts like Harry Potter to help youth and adults fall in love with letter writing.
The Love of Reading
Fatima estimates she’s read more than 10,000 books. Her favorite is Orson Scott Card’s “Enchantment”—a signed copy of is one of her most prized possessions and was given to her by an undergraduate professor with whom she often traded novels. And while she especially enjoys horror, science fiction, fantasy and comedy, she says the subject doesn’t matter if the book is well-written and captures her interest.
Her love of reading continued through her college years to the present, and she often enjoys reading and sharing her interests with her husband, whether that was while they lived in Maryland or during travels around the northeast and the world.
In mid-2021, when her husband got a job on Wall Street, Fatima moved with him to the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. She does a lot of walking and estimates she’ll listen to several audiobooks each week depending on how much she walks.
Despite her parents’ desire for her to become a doctor, Fatima says she’s happy being a writer at Trueline and achieving a goal she set at a young age.
“Since I was five, I wanted to be a teacher and a writer,” Fatima says. “I’d rather do something I love and be happy than be rich doing something I don’t enjoy—and, fortunately, my parents are proud and delighted with what I’ve achieved.”
The Love of Writing
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Fatima was working for the University of Maryland’s National Foreign Language Center, writing foreign language tests for the Department of Defense. But travel was halted, and the center had to let people go. So Fatima, who had recently met her now husband Haris, found herself looking for a job.
“I was on LinkedIn and stumbled upon a job opening at Trueline and started reading the website and thought the company looked like a lot of fun,” Fatima recalls. “But I didn’t expect to be hired because I was living in Maryland.”
After an initial phone conversation with Joy Wilkie, Trueline’s director of people and culture, Fatima interviewed with Director of Content Jim Cavan, who gave her a writing test on the topic of cannabis. She knew she’d enjoy working for Cavan and Trueline after the fun experience writing that test story.
She joined the company as a writer in May 2021 and says she’s had her share of challenges. Writing a 1,000-word story on a pharmaceutical company is much different than writing a young adult novel, Fatima says with a laugh.
When she completes her doctoral program in time to go scuba diving this summer, Fatima says she plans on doing what she’s always done: keep her options open and see what opportunities present themselves. She plans on completing her first novel—and maybe several others—in the next 10 years.
“Occasionally I’ve spoken to people we’re writing about features who did one thing for 30 years, and at the end of their careers they shifted to something completely different,” Fatima says. “Life is too short to rule anything out.”
Bonus Facts on Fatima Taha
Did you know? Fatima Taha speaks English, Urdu, Hindi and French and is learning to speak Korean and Farsi. She shares a birthday—June 15–with Ice Cube, Courteney Cox, Neil Patrick Harris and Lisa del Giocondo (the subject of the Mona Lisa).
Who’d play you? Kajol, a Bollywood actress and one of the most successful people in Hindi cinema.
Bucket list: Snorkeling and scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; skiing in Whistler, the famous resort north of Vancouver.
Greatest achievement so far: Not giving up on her dream of being a teacher and educator.