I was lucky enough to interview Saadia Farqui on WOW! Women On Writing this past week. Saadia writes just about everything you can imagine–fiction and nonfiction for kids, teens, and adults. She has a podcast about books with another author; and she trains various audiences, including faith groups and law enforcement, on topics pertaining to Islam. She has been featured in Oprah magazine in 2017, as a woman making a difference in her community. I am so excited to speak to Saadia on this special Friday Speak Out! edition of the Muffin because she truly has a lot to say encouraging all women to bring their voices to the table.
On her website, she says: “I am a self-taught ‘interfaith activist’, which means I strongly believe that the path to peace in this world is to understand and accept other religions and ways of life as valid and valuable. Sometimes I write about that as well.”
WOW: Welcome Saadia, we are thrilled to have you with us today on The Muffin to talk about your children’s book series and other writing you do as well as your podcast! We have a lot of children’s writers that turn to us for help, navigating the publishing world, and we are excited to add your “in the trenches advice” to their resources. So, let’s start by you telling us about your early reader chapter book, Meet Yasmin! What’s it about? Why did you write it?
Saadia: Thank you for having me on the website! Meet Yasmin! is a collection of four specific stories from the Yasmin series. It’s an early reader, which means it’s perfect for children in grades K-2 , and it focuses on the antics of a curious and imaginative second grade Pakistani American girl called Yasmin. I wrote it to give children of color a character they could identify with and relate to, in a world where the majority of children’s books feature white main characters. I also hoped it would provide all readers a chance to see a different cultural perspective than the one they’re used to.
WOW: That sounds great for all children. Books can definitely open worlds to kids beyond their own neighborhoods and schools. How lucky we are to have an author with us who is doing that for kids! So how did you get a literary agent for your book series? And did you sell her on just the one book or other books, too?
Saadia: I queried countless agents for a number of years, just like other writers. I wrote several manuscripts before this one, both children’s books and adult ones. After several years of rejections and writing new manuscripts, I was able to find my agent Kari Sutherland through participating in a Twitter pitch party. I actually had an adult short story collection as well as the Yasmin series, plus a picture book at that time, and signed with Kari on the basis of all three.
To read more of the interview, please go to WOW!’s website where the interview was originally published.