Most people with story ideas don’t think of writing an entire book. It’s easier to put the idea into short story format, or in our crazy-busy world just let it go altogether. But for young adult author Medeia Sharif, ideas do become novels.
“When I was in middle school and high school, I wrote silly short stories using my classmates as characters. But as an adult, I don’t write short stories. When an idea pops into my head, I immediately think about novel writing,” says Sharif, whose debut novel, Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. came out in July.
Sharif’s passion for writing started in middle school, and by high school she knew it was her calling when her love of Sylvia Plath fueled a passion for writing dark, disturbing poetry. Eventually, Sharif started writing novel-length stories in college with an adult audience in mind. And, like so many of us, she shoved them into a drawer. It wasn’t until she became a teacher and an avid reader of books for young adults that Sharif began writing YA fiction.
“Since I was surrounded by those books, I started to write for young people, which made sense since my characters were young. BRE is my first YA novel and I had two MG drawer manuscripts precede it.”
The Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. revolves around a 15-year-old Muslim girl, Almira, who wants to feel like the typical American girl, but has to follow her family into the month-long sunrise-to-sunset fast known as Ramadan. Forbidden to date, Almira endures the frustrations of falling for her possible soulmate Peter, while her best friend also crushes for him. Not to mention there’s a new Muslim girl in school whose short skirts and flirty attitude command the attention of every boy. What’s Almira to do to get Peter’s attention?
Shariff wrote Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. in nine months while working full-time as a middle grade English teacher. During this time, she hit agentquery.com and got busy querying a slew of agents. While there was a lot of interest in her multicultural story, there were also a lot of rejections.
“I received many positive responses, but my weakness was plot. One agent was kind enough to call me to tell me what changes needed to be made. I also got a few almost there and not quite there responses.”
After revising her manuscript, Sharif was picked up by literary agent Marlene Stringer and Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. was bought by Flux. She is currently working on the followup story, as well as a contemporary YA WIP in the revision stage. For Sharif, writing has always been at her side.
“It’s my life. I wrote my first novel shortly after graduating from high school, and kept plugging away with different manuscripts and numerous rejections until I got my agent in 2008. Writing is in my blood. With or without an agent, a deal or a published book, I’ll always be writing.”
Read more about Medeia and her work at www.sharifwrites.com, and follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/sharifwrites.