Kick-ass women in history

Josephine Baker, A’isha bint Abi Bakr, and other inspirations As we wrap up Women’s History Month, I reflect on the difference the heroines in my novels have made in the world they lived in and today, including in my own life. From A’isha bint Abi Bakr, the youngest wife of the Prophet Muhammad and protagonist […]

Censored! The Banning of My Books

It’s Banned Books Week! Did you know my first novel, THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, has been banned in several countries including Malaysia and, when I went there in 2011, Egypt? Why? Because I wrote about the Prophet Muhammad and his youngest wife, A’isha. Before it was even released, the book spurred an angry demonstration in […]

Five ‘Middlebrow’ Writers, One Excellent Blog

I am so delighted with the blog Mirabile Dictu‘s review of FOUR SISTERS, ALL QUEENS that I’ve copied it to share with you here. I first learned about this blog, which used to be called Frisbee: A Book Journal, from Trish Hoard, my good friend whom I met when she edited THE SWORD OF MEDINA […]

A’isha Still Inspires Me

Here is the speech I gave on Sept. 11, 2012, at the Spokane Coeur d’Alene Woman Magazine Luncheon: “Moments,” I once wrote, “are the hinges on which the doors of the human universe swing.” I’m here to tell you about some of mine. I remember the moment I discovered A’isha bint Abi Bakr, the youngest […]

How I Got My Agent

The first literary agent who read the manuscript of my first novel snapped it up. Don’t hate me, though: She turned it down the first time she read it, plunging me into despair. Why did Natasha Kern reject my first submission? As so many first-time authors have done, I sent her my first draft. She […]

Passion: More Than Just Play

In 52 years of marriage,Vladimir Nabokov wrote hundreds of love letters to his wife, Vera. This I find touching, even moving. But surprising? Hardly. Nabokov was a writer, after all, and no doubt he expressed himself most perfectly via the written word. He was also, as anyone knows who has read “Lolita,” a man of […]

Let’s take our country back!

Here’s the text of my speech against Islamophobia given at Portland State University Friday, Oct. 29: As the author of two novels about the Prophet Muhammad and his controversial bride A’isha bint Abi Bakr, I know something about hate. I know something about fear. Some people hate me because they think I’m an Islamophobe. Islamophobes […]

My Story: Finding Power Within

Dear Reader, Every writer, it’s said, has a single story to tell — and tells it over and over again. A’isha bint Abi Bakr, the most famous and influential woman in Islam, inspired me to write about her life in my novels “The Jewel of Medina” and “The Sword of Medina.” Now that I’m at […]

Note to Authors: Don’t Do This!

Dear Reader, I am sick of being called an “Orientalist.” As if being interested in another culture were a bad thing. And, as I’ve pointed out ad nauseum, “The Jewel of Medina” doesn’t exoticize the Middle East. To the contrary, readers of my book will find that Muhammad and his followers lived grueling lives of […]

No pain, no gain

The remarkable, fabulous highlights of my life since the controversy over THE JEWEL OF MEDINA catapulted me to fame, or infamy, depending on your point of view.