As a school teacher, my mother encouraged me to be inquisitive and curious all the time even if it meant I would be the annoying kid in class, which I was. She used to say in accented English that “There are millions of answers to a single question, and millions of questions to a single answer” and she was right. She kept me well informed in current events, sciences, conspiracy theories, and ancient myths that didn’t always ring true, but I was tasked with spending hours at the school library scouring the books to find answers to her many questions and unfinished tales. That was also when I began to write because the war was simmering in my home in Palestine and the only place I could venture into was my imagination. In Arabic, I read the classics of Jules Verne, Victor Hugo, Astrid Lindgren, Daniel Defoe and others. At the time, my mother, who was in love with the Murder She Wrote TV show, let me borrow one of the paperbacks to read and I hated it. But it was something to read, nonetheless. I became hooked on Judy Blume’s Superfudge, and obsessed over J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, The Hobbit, and The Chronicles of Narnia, and I even tried to write a Harry Potter knock off with Archaeologists as my protagonists.
After ten years in Palestine, I returned to the United States to start college. I earned my B.S. and M.S. in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas and was on a Pre-med track before realizing that medicine was not my calling. So, I taught science for three years while interning at three fine literary agencies, Veritas, Folio, and Talcott Notch where I picked up the skills to become an efficient literary agent. I was exposed to a plethora of authors and the talents they brought to the table and learned that each project required special attention. I knew from then on that reading the works of these talented authors and helping them publish was something I really enjoyed doing. This is what I get to do everyday at Talcott Notch where I’m finally realizing my true calling and ambition while working side-by-side with some of the most talented agents in the industry.
What I’m looking for:
Generally, I’m looking for projects with diverse characters such as myself. Stories that can teach me about other cultures, think Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, Girl At War by Sara Novic . Stories that are quirky but teach me something new and real, think The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, The Man in the High Castle by PKD, The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. Stories that have a strong voice and can stir my emotions until I can’t put the book down, think In The Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner and All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
Adult: up-market literary and commercial fiction, and psychological thrillers. Not looking for paranormal, memoir or romance. I would love to find a great urban fantasy or magical realism for adults.
Young Adult: All subgenres except paranormal and romance. That includes realistic young adult, science fiction (alternate history, dystopian, some cyberpunk and time travel) and fantasy (magical realism and contemporary, urban, and retellings of fairy tales). In YA, I would love to find a book with diverse characters. Think in terms of ethnic, cultural, and sexual diversity.
Middle Grade: Anything that resembles Judy Blume’s work. Anything humorous and creative.
Non-fiction: Anything that teaches me about other cultures, especially rogue ones, and historical periods. Anything that can make me laugh.
I am not looking for romance, cozies, chick lit, high-concept fantasy, weird fantasy, self-help, or memoirs.