Thursday, July 29, 2010


I’m so excited about this forthcoming title, I had to post the interview with the author right away. Fellow Flux-er, Medeia Sharif, will release her debut BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER. in the summer of '11. (And those of you as hungry as I am for a new POV in the YA genre will surely put this title at the top of your TBR list…)

Medeia’s here today to share a few insights on her novel in development…

Congrats on selling your debut novel to Flux! Tell us a bit about BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER.

Almira Abdul, a Middle Eastern mutt of Syrian and Iranian origins, is fifteen going on sixteen and she’s fasting for Ramadan for the first time ever. Coinciding with the holy month is her first major crush with a boy named Peter, whom her best friend Lisa also is in love with. She also has a new enemy at school, catty Shakira Malik, a fellow Muslim who trades barbs with everyone. Her dentist father proclaims that she needs braces. Along with the hectic month her grandfather, who knocks down mailboxes and garbage cans when parking, is teaching her how to drive in his tank-like car.

What was the inspiration?

At first I was going to write a children’s or MG book about a boy’s experience with Ramadan, but then the idea of a teenage girl took hold of me. Almira’s voice became loud and clear.

The YA genre as a whole seems to be so heavily populated with white females. I love that your book features a "Middle Eastern mutt." I think I speak for many fans of YA when I say I'm so hungry for a different POV! Did you ever think your main character's ethnicity would help or hurt in your search to find a publisher? How so? Did you write BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER. because you saw a hole that you could help fill in the YA genre or because it was the story you felt compelled to tell?

I believe it fills a hole, and I was fairly positive that the novel would garner attention. My main character and premise is unique, but at the same time I worried that people might not relate. I felt compelled to write the novel because a) I truly adored my story idea and b) I wanted to contribute to multicultural literature.

Why Flux?

I knew about Flux before getting agent representation. I admired the covers and titles I saw on their website. Also, I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few of their books.

How'd you snare the deal? Agent? Slush?

I have a wonderful agent who got me the deal, Marlene Stringer of The Stringer Literary Agency.

What's the development process been like so far? What's been the highest point?

Each step is different to me and draws out better things from both me and my manuscript. I don’t know if I’m at the highest point yet, because something new keeps popping up. Right now I think the highest point will be when I see my cover since this doesn’t seem real to me yet.

What's been the biggest surprise since you sold your book?

I’m surprised that people are reaching out to me. The YA community is warm and generous. I’ve had established authors visit my blog, tweet at me, and email me when I used to believe that authors were inaccessible. Complete strangers approach me to ask about my debut novel. This is a delightful and welcome surprise

Are you working on anything new right now?

I’m working on a sequel to BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER. Also, I take breaks from it to work on a new, unrelated work-in-progress.

How has the acquisitions and development process changed the way you read?

I find myself questioning the publishing journey of the novels I read: how long did the authors take to write them and what kind of feedback did they receive to fine-tune the work? These intrusive thoughts thankfully don’t get in the way of me comprehending the text.

How has the acquisitions and development process changed the way you write? Do you think you'll pay more or less attention to the market as you draft new work?

I’m a more patient writer. With previous works I did revisions in a rush, within a few weeks with poor results. Ever since I had hope brewing in me that BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER. might be the novel that gets my foot in the door of the publishing world, I spent months revising it. Even with my current projects, I take my time on revisions. I’m better at utilizing feedback and putting a manuscript away and taking it back out to view with fresh eyes. Also, after my book deal, I tested the waters with a few critique groups and finally found one that I’m comfortable with. If I’m stuck on BESTEST or another project, they give me great advice.

As for the marketability of my work, I don’t really pay attention to trends, but I do ask myself if my new projects would be of interest to people. I’m a voracious reader, so I wonder if someone else were to write my story idea, would I be compelled to read it? If I look deep inside of myself and the answer is no, then I save the idea for later and instinctually pick another one.

What are you most looking forward to as your book nears publication?

I’m curious to see people’s reactions to my novel. I hope I strike a positive chord in my future readers, whether I entertain them or teach them something.

You can continue to check in with Medeia as her novel nears publication at her website and blog. Congrats again, Medeia—can’t wait to get a peek at the cover art!


  1. Thanks for the great interview! Congrats on your upcoming novel, Medeia. It sounds so good. I love that you are writing about Muslim teens. We need more of that kind of diversity, I think. Also, it gives me hope that maybe I will sell my Mormon Sci-Fi novel, which people seem convinced that non-Mormons wouldn't want to read. But I don't see why they wouldn't. Anyway, hearing about your book gives me hope.

  2. Thank you so much, Angie. I'm glad my story brings hope to people. I don't know why anyone would think non-Mormons wouldn't want to read your novel. What matters is the story.

    Thanks so much, Holly, for having me. I linked this to my blog and website.

  3. Great having you, Medeia! Can't WAIT to read your book...

  4. Great interview, Medeia. I'm really looking forward to reading BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER. I love books that honestly illustrate the experience of growing up bicultural. Until last night, I didn't even know that the multi-cultural YA genre existed. *sigh of relief* Where've I been, right? Thank you for posting this interview, Holly. : D

  5. Thanks, Ezzy. I read the genre, but I didn't know it had a name until a few years ago. :)

  6. Wonderful interview, Medeia & Holly! Love the questions & the insight into the whole publishing process. I can't wait to read your book!

  7. Great interview! And I know what you mean, Holly, about this being a brand new and exciting POV. I can't wait till Medeia's book comes out! :D

  8. Great interview!! I'm looking forward to seeing your book cover too, Medeia:-)

  9. Thank you Holly Schindler for a fab interview with Madeira Sharif. I'm so thrilled for her and her new book - I hope she gets to see the cover soon! :-)

    Take care

  10. Great interview. This book sound interesting and like a lot of fun. It will be nice for the kids and even adults to have something different to read. =D

  11. Thanks for the informative interview! I'm looking forward to reading this one.

  12. Thanks again, everyone. *blushes*

  13. I'm looking forward to reading your book too. One of my students last year pointed out that Muslims were completely unrepresented in American literature. (I don't think that's entirely true, but it's close enough.) So I was proud I could say I knew of an American writer who was writing a book with a Muslim protagonist!

  14. Holly, this is an excellent interview. I'll be looking forward to reading Medeia's novel, and yours as well. I started reading YA novels to screen them for my great-niece. Now I'm reading them for myself.

  15. Loved the interview -- thanks Holly & Medeia! Medeia's book and MC sound awesome. :)

  16. Medeia,
    I think I found your book somewhere on the 'net and then began following your blog. I've enjoyed getting to know you, especially in the insightful interview. Now, to read the book!

  17. Thank you Edi, Shari, Patricia, and Mary.


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