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Why this Story? (My Inspiration)

Photo: Jim (

Why this story?

The most dreaded question for any writer.  Usually, because it’s the hardest question to answer, but one that requires a writer to dig deep.  And digging deep for any writer… is always dangerous.  But that’s how you get to truth.

I started writing this short script back when I was at York University in Toronto, studying Film Production and Screenwriting.  But even though this is where the actual words on paper started; the inspiration for it goes back much further.

In fact, it goes back to September 11th, 2001.  I think everyone remembers where they were on that day, and I distinctly remember being in the basement of our school, having our class photos taken.  Suddenly, an announcement came on from our Principal, saying that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  I looked around… and all my friends and classmates were puzzled.  What did this mean?

Then maybe 15-20 minutes later, a second announcement came on about how a second plane had hit the second tower.  And I remember realizing… wait, this isn’t an accident.  What is going on?

Before this, I had no idea what terrorism was.  And as we sat in our classroom, silent, watching the terrible news footage unfold on the television, as our French teacher tried to stay calm, but secretly was freaking out because her friend was in New York… I remember feeling that this was the end of the world.

This was going to be World World Three.

And I was terrified.

We lost our innocence that day.  It was our forced coming-of-age into this new world of fear and terror.  We knew nothing would be the same.  We couldn’t go back to our childhood bliss.

Wanting to tell this story… is really wanting to explore that notion of innocence.  And how everything we’ve come to think of– terrorism, the bad guys– are the furthest things that we come to think of, when we think of an “innocent” little girl.

In a strange way, that one event changed who we were in an instant.  It shaped the decade to come, our adolescence, and the way that we view the world and adults.  It certainly shaped the way that I tell my stories.

Ever since, I aim to tell stories that provoke.  Stories that aren’t always easy.  I use humour and satire to cope, and to point out all that I see that is wrong in the world– and all that is right– when there is right.  But mostly, there are only shades of grey.

This is the story of my inspiration.  But it’s also a story… that I know many of you know well.

Thanks for listening.

~ Steph

About littlemissjihadfilm

When 10-year-old, Afghani-American, Sally Khan, discovers that the father she never knew disappeared on September 11, 2001, she becomes convinced that he is a terrorist. Now if she could only figure out what that means! LITTLE MISS JIHAD is a dark comedy, yes, comedy, about faith, tolerance, and a child's imagination running away with her.

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