Author Highlight: Sarah Musa
Author Sarah Musa grew up in New Mexico, USA, and currently lives in Amman, Jordan. Her mixed ancestry—half Palestinian and half Hispanic—has led to an interesting mix of stories, and her six children are often her first readers.
Sarah always wanted to be a writer. As a child, she devoured library books at all hours—sometimes until the books were confiscated! She began writing her first novel at age 13, and then gave up on the project when her brother stole her notebook and read the story.
For years, Sarah submitted stories to mainstream publishers, but she always felt like she was hitting “a brick wall.” She’d often stop writing for long stretches of time out of frustration.
Her breakthrough came when her sister told her about Ruqaya’s Bookshelf. Finally, a publisher looking for the stories she wanted to tell! She was so excited to write for Muslim children that Ahmed and the Very Stuck Teapot was soon born.
“To be given the freedom in such a way that I could write about stuff I really cared about, stuff I was passionate about, stuff I believed, it was so freeing that it just kind of poured out of me. I wrote it in a weekend…and so it began.”
Sarah is now a firm believer in supporting Muslim publishers rather than “chasing” mainstream publishers. “I do not like that we have to ask permission to be ourselves…We are always asking permission, and we need to stop doing that.”
Here are Sarah’s published works so far:
- My Garden over Gaza, a story about hope and resilience in the face of oppression.
- Amir’s Blue Jacket, a story about sadaqa jariya and coping with the loss of loved ones.
- Ahmed and the Very Stuck Teapot, about kindness to animals and focusing on what really matters.
- Trains and Trainers, about the bond between a boy and his autistic brother.
- Haifa Fixes Her Lie, about a girl’s love for her uncle, whose good example teaches her about honesty.
Sarah hopes to continue to tell the stories that matter to her. She also loves supporting other Muslim writers, to help them believe in themselves and their stories. “We need to give ourselves permission. Allah gave us permission. He gave us tongues. He gave us the ability. He gave us the talent. Why are we asking permission?”