HomeChildren’s BookWriter Limelight: Meeting with Hena Khan

Writer Limelight: Meeting with Hena Khan

3 years prior to the pandemic hit, I had the wonderful good luck of sharing a train flight with Hena Khan, the acclaimed writer of Amina’s Voice. Hena as well as I were headed residence from #nErDCampLI, as well as I keep in mind really feeling erased– as well as spoke out– from the meeting. When I rested down following to Hena as well as began talking, my fatigue vaporized as well as an instantaneous link was created. For the following 60 mins, we discussed creating (we were both launching writers); parenting (Hena’s 2 boys remained in intermediate school; my child was an elderly in secondary school); as well as numerous various other subjects that newfound good friends on a train usually find.

Considering That Amina’s Voice appeared in 2017, Hena has actually taken place to release several MG books, consisting of Amina’s Tune ( 2021 ), Even More to the Tale (2020 ), as well as the Zayd Saleem: Chasing After the Desire collection. She is additionally the writer of 7 image publications as well as has actually added to 6 youngsters’s compilations, consisting of As Soon As Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope as well as Delight by 15 Muslim Voices A preferred visitor audio speaker in class, institution amphitheaters, as well as collections throughout the nation, Hena’s newest MG story, Zara’s Guidelines for Searching for Hidden Prize, is out currently from Salaam Reads, an imprint of Simon & & Schuster. Right here’s a short recap:

Zara’s Guidelines for Searching for Hidden Prize

Zara lives for bike flights with her good friends– so, when her glossy, new bike goes missing out on from the park eventually, she’s smashed. After her moms and dads urge she make the cash for an additional bike herself, Zara’s established to begin a service. What kind? A lemonade stand? Not lucrative sufficient. Offering repainted rocks? Not nearly enough consumers.

Zara’s beginning to obtain dissuaded when she as well as her buddy Naomi ultimately create the excellent concept: The Prize Wagon, a restless yard sales that discharges novelties from the Saleem family members cellar as well as generates income at one time! When a mix-up obtains Zara in warm water once more, will she have to provide up whatever she’s gained towards her brand-new bike?

The Meeting

MR: Invite to the Mixed-Up Data, Hena! I’m so satisfied to have you right here. I can not think it’s been 5 years given that our courses went across!

HK: I understand! It’s so great to recollect regarding that beautiful train flight as well as our immediate relationship! Many thanks a lot for welcoming me to speak about my latest publication.

MR: Zara’s Guidelines for Searching for Hidden Prize is the secondly of a trilogy. ( Zara’s Guidelines for Record-Breaking Enjoyable appeared previously this year; Zara’s Guidelines for Living Your Ideal Life bars on March 21, 2023.) What was the motivation behind the collection?

HK: I thought of the concept throughout the pandemic while paying attention to youngsters playing outside in droves as well as considering my very own childhood years. I loved Beverly Cleary’s publications, personalities like Ramona Quimby as well as Henry Huggins, as well as reviewing their smart shenanigans (any person else wish to stomp about on coffee can stilts as well?). I wished to create a collection that in a similar way makes children want they belonged to the community as well as visualize themselves participating in the enjoyable, similar to I did.

MR: Zara has 2 caring moms and dads, a cute-but-sometimes-annoying little bro, Zayd, a solid bond with her relations, including her grandparents as well as her uncle, Jamal Mamoo, as well as a team of caring, fun-loving community good friends. Is this reflective of your very own childhood years? What are the major resemblances as well as distinctions?

HK: The team of community good friends is significantly based upon the youngsters I matured with, as well as the Goldsteins are motivated by my long-lasting good friends that lived nearby. The expanded family members, nevertheless, is a lot more reflective of my youngsters’s experience as well as viewpoint as third-generation Pakistani American Muslims. I’m captivated incidentally my children engage with their grandparents (Naano as well as Nana Abu are basically my real-life moms and dads), aunties as well as uncles, as well as the method they connect to the society. They locate it at the same time cool down as well as funny as well as do not have the exact same sort of stress, assumptions, or clumsiness that I really felt as a kid of immigrants. I additionally really did not reach mature about numerous loved ones, as well as constantly wanted I had actually been as lucky.

Garbage as well as Prize

MR: Among the major motifs of Zara’s Guidelines for Searching for Hidden Prize is our psychological accessory to ownerships. This reverberated with me deeply, due to the fact that I lately needed to remove my mama’s house, which included 60 years’ well worth of things. (The job was difficult, to claim the least.) What made you concentrate on this style? As well as where does Marie Kondo suited the image?

HK: Oh wow, my heart is with you– I make sure that was unbelievably challenging! I matured with moms and dads that conserved whatever, as well as we had a storeroom just like the one I define in guide. They hesitated to get rid of anything, in the hopes that maybe beneficial in the future. I wished to deal with the subject due to the fact that it’s something I still duke it out, both in regards to locating the best equilibrium in between conserving, contributing, as well as reusing my very own points, as well as persuading my mommy to get rid of her “scrap.”

I believed a great deal regarding the concept of garbage versus prize, why we value the important things we do, nostalgic worth, as well as what truly matters. As well as it really felt both cleansing as well as hopeful to create several of the scenes. I have actually listened to a great deal regarding Marie Kondo, specifically the debate around removing publications (the scary!) , as well as believed it would certainly be amusing to include her although I’m not an adherent … at the very least not!

Watching Life from a Younger Lens

MR: Contrasted to several of your previous MG books ( Amina’s Voice, Amina’s Tune, as well as Even More to the Tale), the Zara’s Guidelines trilogy alters more youthful, ages seven-10, with much shorter phases as well as many images. What’s the major obstacle when creating for a more youthful target market? What’s one of the most enjoyable?

HK: I would certainly claim the greatest obstacle is having much less area to totally expand personalities as well as stories, which is really vital to me also in a much shorter publication. It’s so enjoyable to be able to leap right into the activity, as well as to check out the globe via the lens of a 10-and-three-quarter-year-old. Youngsters at that age are really mindful as well as involved with the globe yet still so earnest as well as innocent, as well as I enjoy to discover the important things that I’m considering currently from that point of view.

Collection Versus Stand-alones

MR: Along with the Zara’s Guidelines trilogy, you have actually created the Zayd Saleem: Chasing After the Desire collection, with 6 publications in overall. What’s it like to work with a collection instead of a stand-alone publication?

HK: The greatest distinction is that you are familiar with your personalities deeply, so it seems like reaching have fun with old good friends in each tale. I never ever truly thought writers that discussed their personalities determining what takes place in a tale, yet I type of comprehend that principle currently. When personalities end up being so totally created in your mind, you have a suggestion of what they would certainly claim or carry out in a scenario, as well as it comes to be less complicated to create them. At the exact same time, it’s vital to maintain the tales fresh as well as fascinating as well as stay clear of repeating. I enjoy making passing recommendations to previous publications as little shocks to those that have actually reviewed them all.

Picture-Book Love

MR: You additionally create image publications, consisting of the well-known Under My Hijab Is it challenging to change from MG to image publications– as well as from image publications to MG …?

HK: It’s not as well tough to change backward and forward in between the styles given that they make use of really various creating muscle mass. I usually do not work with 2 middle-grade jobs at the same time, yet usually count on an image publication throughout breaks. I enjoy the economic situation of words as well as the method one sentence can make or damage a whole publication. It compels you to be a sharp editor as well as take note of every syllable.

Commemorating Variety

MR: Your publications are carefully instilled with aspects from your Pakistani heritage, as well as your personalities are ethnically, culturally, as well as consistently varied. What can writers– as well as authors– do to enhance the exposure of genuine, varied personalities in kidlit?

HK: Thanks! Individuals I enjoy influence a lot of what I create. It’s vital to keep in mind that I stand for just one part of the Pakistani American Muslim neighborhood, which additionally has variety within it– in terms of degree of social adaptation, socioeconomic condition, spiritual awareness as well as even more. And after that, naturally, the American Muslim neighborhood is much more varied. I assume it’s fantastic to see even more varied depiction in kidlit, yet we require a larger range of tales as well as personalities in all categories. While it’s fantastic to have publications to event variety, society, as well as customs, I really hope to see even more tales where identifications aren’t always stressed yet are merely woven right into the history like in Zara’s Guidelines.

Plotter or Pantser?

MR: What does your writing regular appear like? Do you have a specific timetable? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

HK: I want I had a regular, yet I do not. I create in any way times of the day, often everyday for some time and after that except weeks. I would certainly such as to locate some self-control at some point! On the whole, I’m even more of a plotter than a pantser.

The Secret to Success

MR: You have actually created 13 (as well as counting!) middle-grade books, 7 image publications, as well as tales consisted of in 6 compilations. What’s the key to being such a respected writer?

HK: Well, I have actually gone to it for some time currently, as well as often it seems like I have actually released a great deal, as well as at various other times I assume I might have done a lot more! I assume the trick to remaining involved as well as inspired is to maintain tough myself to boost my craft, to attempt to get to target markets in various methods, as well as to just blog about what really thrills me.

What’s Following?

MR: What are you servicing currently, Hena? Checking Mixed-Up Data viewers desire to understand …

HK: I’m thrilled to be beginning on my 2nd visuals story, completing up a brand-new middle-grade story, as well as editing and enhancing a compilation that hasn’t been introduced. I have actually additionally obtained some brand-new image publications en route! Please get in touch with me to obtain updates on my brand-new titles.

Lightning Round!

MR: As well as ultimately, no MUF meeting is total without a lightning round, so …

Preferred creating treat?

I like cookies yet choose nuts or pot corn.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee completely! I consume coffee with a little of milk.

Marie Kondo: Yea or nay?

Nay, can not do it!

Zombie armageddon: Yea or nay?

If I needed to pick an armageddon, it would certainly be the one.


I would certainly need to go with invisibility.

Preferred position on planet (besides Seville, Istanbul, as well as Seattle)?

Turks as well as Caicos is simply amazing.

If you were stranded on a desert island with only 3 points, what would certainly they be?

My partner as well as 2 boys. Or if they count as one family members, after that gelato as well as my laptop computer. MR: Thanks for talking with us, Hena– as well as congratulations on the current magazine of

Zara’s Guidelines for Discovering Surprise Prize!


Biography Hena Khan is a prize-winning writer of image publications as well as middle-grade fiction. Her middle-grade story Amina’s Voice introduced Simon & & Schuster’s groundbreaking Salaam Reads imprint as well as was called a Best Publication of 2017 by the Washington Message, NPR, Kirkus Reviews, as well as others. The follow up, Amina’s Tune, won the 2021 Asian/Pacific Honor for Kid’s Literary works. Hena created the preferred Zayd Saleem Chasing after the Desire collection, as well as Even More to the Tale, an unique motivated by her all-time favored publication, Little Females Hena’s well-known image publications consist of Golden Domes as well as Silver Lanterns, Under My Hijab, Crescent Moons as well as Pointed Minarets, Evening of the Moon, as well as It’s Ramadan, Curious George Find out more regarding Hena on her internet site as well as follow her on Twitter, Instagram, as well as Facebook

( For a lot more on Hena Khan, take a look at this MUF meeting

Melissa Roske





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