About Courage #5: Medeia Sharif

sharif4bMedeia Sharif is a Kurdish-American author who was born in New York City. She received a master’s degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University. While in high school, she became a voracious reader and she became a relentless writer in college. Her persistence paid off when BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER. was published by Flux in 2011. Her second novel, VITAMINS AND DEATH, is slated for publication in 2014 with Prizm Books/Torquere Press. In addition to being a writer, Medeia is a middle school English teacher in Miami. Her memberships include Mensa, ALAN, and SCBWI.        source

To celebrate VITAMINS AND DEATH, Medeia is hosting an international giveaway on her blog of the 10 edgy books that inspired her to write VITAMINS AND DEATH. Deadline for entry is   31 December.  Medeia sent a synopsis of VITAMINS AND DEATH to promote its 2014 release.

Deidra Battle wants nothing more than to be invisible. After her mother, a public school teacher, engages in an embarrassing teacher-student affair at Lincoln High, they relocate to a different neighborhood and school. Being her mother’s briefcase, Deidra joins her mother at her new workplace, Hodge High.
Since her mother has reverted to her maiden name and changed her appearance, Deidra thinks no one will figure out they’re the Battles from recent news and that they’re safe. Neither of them is. Hodge brings a fresh set of bullies who discover details about the scandal that changed her life.
Feeling trapped at home with an emotionally abusive, pill-addicted mother and at school with hostile classmates who attempt to assault and blackmail her, Deidra yearns for freedom, even if she has to act out of character and hurt others in the process. Freedom comes at a price.

I asked Medeia about courage!

Medeia, you’ve actually been writing for several years and  I know you’ve been doing a lot of reading. Who are some of the characters you’ve read about that are noteworthy for their courage? What elements of their character (or of the author’s writing) speak to that courage? How do you build courage in the characters you create?

I have taken a turn in my writing. My latest book coming out in 2014, VITAMINS AND DEATH, is dark and gritty, whereas my first novel, BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER., was far lighter. In VITAMINS AND DEATH, the main character has to dig deep for courage to fight the problems she goes through both at school and at home. There are many external prompts—for example, the need for both emotional and physical survival as my character deals with an abusive mother and relentless bullies. Internally, my character is ambivalent about speaking out, fights her dark thoughts, decides to be gutsier, and then looks towards a brighter future. She also finds the good in people around her, which is hard to do in the environment she’s in, and this also fuels her courage.
Some of my favorite books that inspired me to go edgy have similar aspects that speak to courage. In the beginning, the main characters are silent or semi-silent victims who have people prey on them, and then their convictions on fighting what’s bad in their world solidify. Some of these books are Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK, Elizabeth Scott’s LIVING DEAD GIRL, and Cheryl Rainfield’s SCARS.
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5 thoughts on “About Courage #5: Medeia Sharif

  1. Yay, Medeia! You inspire me by the message you’re sharing in your book. Writing about some issues…well it makes me want to snuggle up with rainbows and unicorns and pretend the big bad world doesn’t exist. =)

  2. I am so excited for Medeia. It takes a lot of courage to branch out into a different genre and I am so happy for her that she was willing to take the risk! There are so many lessons we can learn from courageous characters and her latest book sounds like one we will think about long after we close the book. Wishing her the best of luck! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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