Thursday, June 30, 2011

Two Books about the Same Person


Like I said yesterday, I went to a panel where two authors discussed writing about A’isha, Muhammad’s favorite wife; Sherry Jones wrote The Jewel of Medina and Kamran Pasha wrote The Mother of the Believers.

Many historical fiction authors (myself included), worry that someone will come up with their idea first. To my dismay, Kamran said many of us will face this. But he said that’s okay. It’s less important to be first and more important to be authentic to your own voice.

I wondered beforehand if there would be any tension between the two of them, but Sherry said simply, "The more books about Aisha, the better." I think you'd have to really love the history to be able to say that.

When a publisher accepted Sherry's book "Muslimaphobes" went psycho. People told her encouraging Muslimism would by dangerous. The controversy grew so out of proportion that before the book was even published, it made headlines. Her publisher decided not to publish her book because of the scandal and she had to find someone else.

"They acted like it was more dangerous than satanic verses," Sherry mumbled. Come to find out, she wasn't exaggerating; that was actually a quote. 

I was shocked people could be so ignorant. I thought everyone knew Muhammad preached peace.

Then I remembered the time someone at my work got on a ten-minute soap-box about how we should kill all the terrorists and ship all the Muslims out of the country. For all our progress in tolerance, there’s still a lot of work to do.

Sherry said something that really stood out to me: “I got a lot of bad reviews from people who hadn’t even read it…” She stopped and corrected herself. “My book got a lot of bad reviews.”

“You have to tell your novel the way you want to already knowing people won’t like it,” said Kamran. “Do it for the work, because you can’t control the world. If even one person is touched by what you write, you succeeded.”

5 comments:

  1. Fascinating post and interesting-sounding books too. Isn't it amazing how authors get stupid remarks all the time from people who don't know what they're talking about? How can anyone give a bad review if they haven't read the book?

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  2. Thanks! It's great to hear feedback.

    I have more about stupid remarks from readers in future posts.

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  3. These books sound fantastic! I'm going to have to check them out.:)

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  4. It's so great hearing about your conference experiences, especially all of these religious discussions. I'm fascinated by the dynamics between different religions. Thanks for sharing!
    Marie at the Cheetah

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  5. Yeah--every time I see a book come out that features one of the historical figures that are prominent in my own novel (still being shopped to agents), I cringe. But so far every time, just by reading the blurb or review of the book, it becomes clear to me that each author has taken those characters in very different directions than the one I've chosen or has focused on different events in their lives, etc. Then I sigh with relief. :)

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