Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2018 with Hafsah Faizal

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-six authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Hafsah Faizal

There are some who are born knowing they are writers. Hafsah Faizal was not one of them. Her journey to becoming an author was a long and winding one, and in reality, is barely just beginning. Hafsah is the author of We Hunt The Flame, a YA fantasy forthcoming from FSG/Macmillan in 2019. She’s the owner of IceyDesigns, where she creates websites for authors and beauteous goodies for everyone else. Born in Florida and raised in California, she now resides in Texas with her family, some koi, and a library of books waiting to be devoured. Her work is represented by John M. Cusick of Folio Lit.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramTumblrGoodreads

I was never a big reader. I was one of the brightest kids in my school, but I cheated on my reading log.

It was only many years later that I realized why: because those adventures, those journeys, those fun times that occurred in books? They could never be me. I was different, as was clear when I browned in the playground. When my dark hair needed to be coiled in a braid or it would swallow me whole. When my teacher couldn’t pronounce my name for the first few weeks of class and when my burqa-donning mother needed to say my daughter can’t eat this and this and this. So when I blatantly stood out in my surroundings, what solace could I find in a book where I was reminded of just how different I was? I hated reading.

Many years later, my life shifted. I donned the veil, just like my mother. We moved to a new state and I lost all my friends. I started homeschooling. Loneliness became my constant, the worst friend one could ask for. My brother, my complete opposite when it came to reading, brought home books high above his reading level. He’d talk about them and press them into my hands. One book became another, and another, and another.

I read to lose myself. Rarely could I find myself, but sometimes, between the magical covers of a tome, I could find snippets. Like horcruxes I began to collect.

I have no single literary heroine. I would be lying if I said I did. But rather, there are little pieces of different characters that I would carve off and hold close. Like Katsa from Graceling, who was looked upon differently by her people. Like Maddy from Everything, Everything, one of the first characters I connected so strongly with. She was smart, homeschooled, lonely. She started a blog to connect with the outside world, yet her closest friend was her mom. I saw so much of myself in her. Then there was Skylar from I’ll Meet You There who lived a more extroverted life, but had tremendous responsibilities heaped upon her at such a young age. When she said I’m tired, I bawled and bawled and bawled. But she emerged with a sense of bittersweet happiness. Most of my favorite heroines do.

My literary heroine is rarely the one who fights back. Rarely the one who talks loud and mouths off. The ones I find myself rooting for, fighting for, crying for are the ones who persevere. Who are burdened with responsibilities they never should have borne. Robbed of the freedom to dream, to wish, to paint an unblemished future with whatever they’d like. Who are frowned upon by so many for the mere act of existing. Who carry the weight of so many, yet continue with a weary smile, knowing they’ll likely never receive the same in return. The quiet heroines. The resilient ones. The ones who grit their teeth and steel their feet and carry on.

Because they remind me I can, too.

Title We Hunt The Flame
Author Hafsah Faizal
Pages N/A
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Fantasy
Publication Date May 14th 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Find It On Goodreads

In the caliphates of Arawiya, the forest extends its palms and the sands bleed black.

In Demenhur, the Huntress dons a man’s clothes, deceiving all, including herself.

In Sarasin, the Prince of Death steeps his hands in blood. He no longer knows to dream.

In Alderamin, the clock chimes for the ones immortal as the darkness stretches and yawns.

And from the shadows comes a woman. Cloaked in silver and jeweled in crimson.

Set in a richly reimagined ancient Arabia, We Hunt The Flame follows Zafira — a young woman who masquerades as a man to seek a lost artifact that could return magic to her cursed world — and the Prince of Death tasked with killing her.

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