Mennah Abdalquader may be the youngest author in Fermanagh.

At the age of 11, the Enniskillen schoolgirl has written, illustrated and self-published a 211-page children’s novel, entitled ‘Into The Tunnel of Murder’, which is to be the first in a series called the Red Potatoes books.

Mennah, originally from Palestine, has lived in the UK for most of her childhood. She currently lives in Enniskillen with her mum, dad and brother, Mohammed.

Just in the door from a busy day at school, where she is now in her last year at Enniskillen Integrated Primary School, Mennah spoke passionately about the inspiration behind the story of her book.

“It all started as me and my brother really liked to play games together sometimes. Once we started this game, my mind was alarming, [thinking] ‘Oh, this is a very good idea for a book, why don’t you try it out?’

“And that’s how the inspiration came,” she said.

Mennah was in P6 when she started writing the book in February, completing it just over four months later, in June.

Talking about her writing process, she said: “I wanted a prologue. I [wrote] something that kind of connects to the book, and then I just started on the computer to write, write, write.

“I write upstairs in my room on a desk with a laptop. I just start, full flow,” she added.

The story follows the adventures of a team of children known as the ‘Terrible Group’ who work for a spy agency called Red Potatoes, led by a boss named Chips.

In the first chapter, the reader is introduced to Chips and the team, but also characters including Miss Millie Mush, Love Texas and Florence First Aid.

When asked how she came up with the names of her characters, Mennah replied: “Me and my brother, [in] all the games [we play], we just make up random names and I spent ages just looking for the perfect names for every character, and they suddenly just came springing into mind.”

The young writer followed a similar process for the intriguing title of her book.

“I spent ages [thinking about it]. ‘Into The Tunnel of Doom’, ‘Into The Tunnel ... this’, but when I said ‘Into The Tunnel of Murder’, it sounded good.

“It just stands out, I think,” she added.

After completing the book, Mennah, assisted by her father, self-published it.

“I didn’t know about self-publishing before so I thought we might go to a big publishing company, but then my dad found out about self-publishing and we thought it might be just easier to self-publish and keep it on Amazon,” said the multi-talented young writer, who also created the striking cover art for the book.

Talking about her design, she said: “I knew I definitely wanted some kind of tunnel on it. And the whole story involves spies and like people spying, so I kind of thought I really needed some eyes.

“I thought it’s like night, midnight, so [I added] the moon and the stars. And that’s how it just came.”

Having only completed ‘Into The Tunnel of Murder’ a few months ago, Mennah has started writing the second book of the Red Potatoes series.

“I’ve already started writing it, but I’m only 20 pages in,” she said, noting that it will be a different story to the first book, but will have the same main characters.

Although she is only 11 years old, Mennah plans to continue writing and hopes to eventually have a career as an author.

“I think I’ve always wanted to go along the lines of using paper as a job like an artist. But I think writing was just always what I was meant to do. I just really enjoy writing,” she said.

“Very, very proud”

Saying that he is “very, very proud” of his daughter’s talents, Mennah’s father, Dr. Ahmed Abdalqader, said: “She always wanted to be an author, something in this field.

“When she told us that she wanted to start writing a book, we thought it would be a very short book, maybe five or 10 pages.

“Then she started to read it to us, and I was really shocked at the amount of ideas she had!

“Then she told me, ‘But daddy, this is still the introduction’,” he said with a laugh.

“It was around 20 pages, and I asked her did she know how long it would be roughly, and she said yes, that she had all the plans in her mind.

“We were really, really happy for her, and very proud of her achievement.”

When she isn’t writing, Mennah enjoys reading, among other hobbies. “I do a lot of things. I like reading, which is how my writing just comes to life.

“I also like playing football. I like all sports. I like doing lots of things,” she said.

‘Into The Tunnel of Murder’ is now available on Amazon here, and Mennah is delighted to have already received 15 five-star reviews, with readers describing it as an “incredible book” and a “funny, action-packed adventure”.

She explained that some of her friends have also bought and read her book.

“They enjoyed it. One of my friends is nearly done. I’m just amazed with how this is going,” she said with a smile.