New YA: Introducing Sara Haghdoosti and Sunburnt Veils

Introducing Sara Haghdoosti and her YA debut, Sunburnt Veils

We’re delighted to officially announce the acquisition of ANZ and UK rights to Sara Haghdoosti‘s YA debut novel, Sunburnt Veils, a ‘love story with a hijabi twist’, which Wakefield Press will publish in March 2021.

Sunburnt Veils is a smart, funny, character-based exploration of Islamophobia through a heroine who’s the kind of girl who reads at parties, but pushes herself to take a visible stand after a fellow student calls in a bomb threat on her first day of university, after she leaves a bag in a lecture theatre to take a phone call.

Here’s a sneak peek at the story:

Girl meets boy, ghosts his text messages, then convinces him to help her run for the student union. Just your typical love story with a hijabi twist.

Tara wears hijab even though her parents hate it, and in a swipe right world she’s looking for the ‘will go to the ends of the earth for you’ type of love. Or, she would be, if she hadn’t sworn off boys to focus on getting into med. Besides, what was wrong with just crushing on the assassins, mages and thieves in the fantasy books she reads. 

When a bomb threat on her first day of university throws her together with totally annoying party king and oh-so-entitled politician’s son Alex, things get complicated. Tara needs to decide if she’s happy reading about heroes, or if she’s ready to step up and be one herself.

‘I’m incredibly excited about Sunburnt Veils,’ says Sara, who was born in Iran, grew up in Sydney and now lives in Chicago. ‘I grew up without having people like me at the centre of stories. I hope that young people pick up this book and see a part of themselves and also push themselves to think about what they want to create and realise that they have much more power than they imagine.’

Sara, like her protagonist, has been politically active from a young age.

She got her start in organising at the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and then went on to work at GetUp, Change.org, the Mozilla Foundation and founded Berim (‘Let’s go’ in Farsi) – a non-profit that worked to support change makers in Iran. She’s currently the Deputy Director at Win Without War. Her writing has appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Drum and she’s been a panelist on the ABC’s Q&A.

The novel was acquired at Wakefield Press by Margot Lloyd, who’s just left her role as YA publisher to take up a senior editor role at UQP. Jo Case, who succeeds her as YA publisher this week (and is Wakefield’s marketing & publicity director), read the manuscript as Margot was working with agent Danielle Binks to acquire it, and fell in love with it immediately.

‘Sara’s writing voice crackles with authentic, quietly acerbic intelligence and charisma, and the plot has a forward momentum that had me glued to my seat until I finished it,’ says Case. ‘This is classic coming-of-age YA with a thoroughly contemporary feel that fits perfectly into the list Margot has built here at Wakefield, and has a similar pop-culture-savvy to authors like Poppy Nwosu and Lisa Walker. I was excited when Margot signed the contract, and looked forward to working on it as Sara’s publicist. And now, I feel very lucky to be inheriting it as publisher, as one of the first books I’ll work on.’

Binks says, ‘Sara was introduced to me via the fabulous LoveOzYA author Sarah Ayoub – and I’ll never be able to thank her enough for putting me onto this extraordinary new voice in our youth literature! I’m also not surprised that an indie publisher like Wakefield are the ones to take a chance on Sara Haghdoosti, and welcome her onto their growing list of stellar Australian YA.’

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