A year to go…

So SCARLETT UNDERCOVER comes out in about a year, which is amazing beyond amazing to me. I love my main character, Scarlett, and I love how the final draft for copyediting turned out. Pam Garfinkel at L,B, was so easy to work with, and so good at pinpointing areas that needed help…though I’m still seeing her “Condense a bit?” comment bubbles in my sleep!

So now I’m working on something new, and — full disclosure — have had two manuscripts rejected yet again. They probably deserved it. But still, *sigh*.

Which makes me wonder what SCARLETT has that the other two don’t. It is better written (I think) and is a mystery (which seems to be trending right now). But here’s the kicker: Scarlett’s a Muslim.

On one hand, I’m SO happy that a publisher like L,B wants to put a Muslim protagonist out there, especially one who isn’t particularly observant. She’s a teenager, struggling to reconcile what she loves about her faith with the everyday realities of her world.

On the other, I’m terrified. What right do I have to write a Muslim girl? Especially a Muslim girl of color. Scarlett’s dad is Egyptian, her mom’s family is from Sudan. Ideally, a writer of color would be the one bringing my cappuccino-skinned, non-hijabed Scarlett to life.


But Scarlett’s my baby. I love her. She’s part of me. So many hours of my life have gone into her birth that I’d be afraid to try and count them. With any luck I’ll be able to help her grow up through other books. Even if that doesn’t happen, Scarlett will always be dancing around in my head, pissing off bad guys and setting wrongs right.

My guess is that some good people in the real world might be pissed off, too. Hopefully not too much. And hopefully they’ll judge the book on its own merits.

And hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, SCARLETT UNDERCOVER will be read by all kinds of people from all kinds of faiths. Hopefully it will show that there is a real market for books with Muslim main characters, which will in turn make it easier for Muslim writers to sell their own books about Muslim kids.

I would love that.

So if the idea of SCARLETT UNDERCOVER makes you mad, replace her. Write something better. I want you to. Seriously. Smash the hell out barriers to diversity in publishing. Go all TWILIGHT and POTTER with your Muslim girl heroines.

I want you to.

And Scarlett would, too.