Author Spotlight: Sabina Kahn

Jan. 11, 2019

We are excited to feature author Sabina Kahn and her YA debut novel THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI (Scholastic Jan. 29, 2019), the story of a lesbian Bengali teen who must face her conservative Muslim family. Be sure to enter to win a copy!

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.

 I’ve always wanted to write but growing up that was never a feasible option for a career. Also, at the time there weren’t really books being written specifically for teens. So, when my own daughters began to get into YA, I would read along with them and that’s when I started thinking seriously again about writing.

Congrats on your debut novel, THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI. Tell us about it and what inspired you.

I was inspired to write this novel after my daughter came out to us. We had a lot of discussions about what some of the other LGBTQ teens she knew were going through and I wanted to write a story of hope and staying true to yourself for someone who might be going through a difficult time with their families.

Do your characters (or did you, when writing the book) have a playlist? What songs would be on it?

While I love listening to music almost all the time, the one exception is when I’m writing. If there’s any music playing I’ll end up singing or humming along and not getting any writing done. But Rukhsana likes to listen to anything by Sam Smith when she’s sad. She also likes songs from Bollywood movies, even though she can never remember their names.

Was your road to publication long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?

I would say my journey was somewhat in between. I got into Pitch Wars in 2016 after I’d written this novel and with the help of my amazing mentor, Natasha Neagle, I polished it and got it ready for the agent round. I signed with my agent soon after, revised with her and got an offer from my publisher shortly after that.

What projects are you working on now?

At the moment I’m working on another YA contemporary which deals with Islamophobia and immigration. Hopefully I’ll be able to share more details soon.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same that you would give to aspiring authors?

Don’t worry if everything doesn’t happen for you right away. Sometimes it may take a little bit longer for things to fall into place, but if you keep at it or even if you must step away for a few years and come back to it, then it will happen. There is no expiration date for creativity and we all come to this from different places in our lives. So, when the time is right for you, you can make it happen. 

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I hate corndogs with a passion. I can’t stand the way they smell and their consistency and everything about them. 

Where can people find you online?

Online, I mostly hang out on Twitter @Sabina_Writer and you can 
visit my website at

Sabina Khan writes about Muslim teens who straddle cultures. She was born in Germany, spent her teens in Bangladesh, lived in Macao, Illinois and Texas before settling down in beautiful British Columbia with her husband, two daughters and the best puppy in the world. She enjoys reading, spicy food and is obsessed with scented candles. She has a BA in Political Science and works as an Educational Consultant by day. By night she sings her heart out at Karaoke and dances like no one’s watching.

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  1. Great cover illustration for the character!

  2. This book has been on my must read list since I first heard about it. Can't wait to read this book. Congrats on your debut!

  3. I'm so excited for this book. Plus the cover is amazing :)
    Megan S.

  4. This title will DEFINITELY be of interest to readers in my middle school library (as does the book you're working on now!). Looking forward to reading it. Captivating cover. Glad you're writing AND GETTING PUBLISHED to tell diverse stories.

  5. Islamophobia, immigration and cross-culturalism are some of the most important themes we can tackle these days. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this ground-breaking book!


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