Saturday, June 25, 2011

Interview: Author Medeia Sharif (and a Book Giveaway!)

Debut author
Medeia Sharif is a serious reader. Her reading goal for 2011 is 150 books. By early June, she already reached 100! She has a great blog with lots of book recommendations and book giveaways, and I always enjoy stopping by and reading her posts. I'm honored to have Medeia at my blog, and I'm excited to share her interview with you.

More info about Medeia:

Medeia Sharif is a Kurdish-American author who was born in New York City. She presently calls Miami Beach her home. She received her master's in psychology from Florida Atlantic University. In addition to being an author, Medeia is a school teacher. She became a voracious reader in high school and a relentless writer in college. Her persistence paid off in 2008 when she attained agent representation, and in 2009 when she got her first book deal.

(Flux, July 2011)

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Dawn: Tell us about BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER.

Fifteen-year-old Almira Abdul is fasting for Ramadan for the first time ever, but the month does not move smoothly at all. She has her first major crush, treads on her best friend's toes, butts heads with a new archenemy, and has a strict old-world grandfather who drives her crazy. There's a disparity between what she desires and how she was raised, but she wants to be an all-American girl.

Dawn: What inspired the story?

Medeia: Almira inspired me. The main character popped into my head and I wanted to write her story.

Dawn: You work full-time as a teacher, you're a novelist, and you read more books than anyone I can think of. How do you do it? What does a typical writing day look like?

Medeia: I've been asked that before, and I don't know how to describe a typical day. I have no set sleeping pattern. Sometimes I sleep at night like most people do, and other times I fall asleep in the afternoon to wake up at midnight. I prefer to write early in the morning or late at night, so I try to accommodate my writing preferences. As for the reading I do, I don't do most of it at home. Some books I read for work. And it would come as a surprise how much reading one can do at the laundromat, in waiting rooms, on plane rides, and other places. I read many books on my phone. Those apps have quadrupled my reading.

Dawn: What grade or grades do you teach?

Medeia: I'm certified to teach 6 to 12, and I've taught all those grades. Right now I'm in a high school setting.

Dawn: How did your students react when they learned about your book deal?

Medeia: I do my best to keep my day job separate from my writing life. I don't want to advertise at my workplace, and sometimes people ask too many questions when they find out I write. Honestly, I never announced my deal to my students. My students found out about my writing when they Googled me. Some of them asked me what Flux was and if I was famous (I told them "sort of"). Also, some of them wanted an autographed copy.

Dawn: How much do you outline before you start writing your first draft?

I've outlined for many years, but with the past few wips my outlines have become even more detailed. Getting stuck at a new plot point while drafting is an uncomfortable feeling, but an outline provides direction.

Dawn: What author has most influenced you?

Medeia: I have to go with V.C. Andrews. I became hooked on her serial novels in middle school, which led me toward a path of bookwormhood and writing.

Dawn: Do you have any advice for unagented, unpublished writers?

Medeia: Be persistent and never stop writing. If a manuscript doesn't work out and has been rejected at a gazillion places, work on the next one (BRE isn't the first novel I've written). Also, don't write in a bubble, typing all those manuscripts without input from the outside world. I've only been participating in critique groups and conferences in the past few years, and I wish I had discovered these resources earlier.

Dawn: Thank you so much, Medeia! It's super interesting to learn more about you. I love your advice--very inspiring! I hope to meet you in person at the SCBWI Summer Conference in L.A.! In the meantime, I can't wait to read BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER.

To learn more about Medeia:!/sharifwrites

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Now for the giveaway! BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER. will be available July 8th, and I'll send a copy to the winner A.S.A.P. Hot off the press, bloggy friends!

To enter the contest, all you have to do is:
1. leave a comment on this post before 11:59 p.m. on Friday, July 1st, 2011
2. be a follower of this blog
3. have a mailing address in the U.S. (Sorry about that, international bloggy friends. I wish I could include everyone.)

Each person can enter only once. I think that's it as far as the rules go. I'll update if I realize I forgot something.

Good luck! :)


Paul Greci said...

Oh! I want to read this book!! I loved the book trailer!!!

And yeah, I'm also amazed at how many books Medeia reads on top of everything else she does!! :-)

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for the fun interview and giveaway. I'm now a follower. :o)

And if I didn't have kids, I'd probably sleep like she does.

Lydia Sharp said...

Fabulous interview! Can't wait to read this. :D

Unknown said...

Great interview, Dawn, and thanks for the giveaway. I'm looking forward to reading Medeia's novel. Hoping loads of success for both of you!

Cathy said...

I'm happy to see that this ethnic book is being published. Not enough of them are.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, guys, for your interest and support.

Thank you, Dawn, for interviewing me and posting this!

Dawn Simon said...

Thank you, Medeia! It was fun interviewing you. :)

KM Nalle said...

Medeia - I enjoyed learning more about you. I also got hooked on VC Andrews (even though my mother didn't approve)!

Thanks for hosting Dawn! Great interview.

Anonymous said...

I've wondered too how you managed to teach (which we all now includes may hours of preparing and grading), read so many books, and write a novel! Geez, I feel like a slacker.

Angela Padron said...

Medeia is a fantastic writer and a sweet person. I'm glad I get to be part of her process by being in her critique group. We are all very happy for her with her new book and look even more forward to the next book!!!

Jess said...

This book sounds fantastic, and Medeia is a super multi-tasker :)

I would love to read it!

Suma Subramaniam said...

Wow! Nice interview Dawn. Thanks for sharing. Its inspiring to know that Medeia is such a voracious reader. I would love to read her book.

Shalet Jimmy said...

Hey! That was a wonderful interview....Loved it...

Shalet Jimmy said...

HeY! That was a wonderful interview....loved it...

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Medeia rocks. I'm sooo looking forward to reading this! It's on my KOBO and I'm just dying to dig in.