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carefulwithwords
12-29-2011, 09:10 PM
I've read basically everywhere that I shouldn't include any bio info in my fiction query unless it's publishing credit (of which, I have none). However, in my case, the main characters in my novels are Muslim. And one of them is a gay Muslim. And although I am a Muslim, I have a decidedly non-Muslim sounding name (as a convert). I'm worried agents will read the query and think oh here's some wasp who wants to write about Muslims :::eyeroll::: .

What does the forum think about signing off my query with "I'm an American Muslim and this is my first novel." <--sounds kinda like the beginning of a PSA doesn't it?

Toothpaste
12-29-2011, 09:39 PM
Wow. That's a tough one. I'm not sure actually what the answer is. But I will say if I saw your "I'm an American Muslim" line I'd find it fine, and not find it too PSA like or whatever.

IceCreamEmpress
12-29-2011, 10:48 PM
Or "Like {protagonist}, I'm a Muslim living in the US" (or "living near Detroit" or "living in San Jose" or whatever, if the book is set in the area you live in.)

LJD
12-29-2011, 11:49 PM
hmm. If the religion is an important part of the story, I think I'd include it. I like IceCreamExpress's idea for phrasing.

My understanding was that if you had personal experience related to your novel (or, for example, you were writing a historical novel and had a relevant PhD...) that it can be mentioned in the bio.

carefulwithwords
12-30-2011, 12:36 AM
Or "Like {protagonist}, I'm a Muslim living in the US" (or "living near Detroit" or "living in San Jose" or whatever, if the book is set in the area you live in.)

I thought about that too. Since half the novel is set in Morocco and I live in Morocco which is probably also good for an agent to know. However, i was worried that this would make the agent think this was a thinly veiled memoir. And I've read agents hate those. ;)
It's definitely not a memoir and the religion is both the setting and many times the source of the characters internal conflicts.

carefulwithwords
12-30-2011, 12:40 AM
My understanding was that if you had personal experience related to your novel (or, for example, you were writing a historical novel and had a relevant PhD...) that it can be mentioned in the bio.

Yeah, I've read that too. But then I'm thinking well if I were writing a book about a family of Catholics living in Spain would I be like "By the way, I'm Catholic too!"

I'm probably giving this way too much thought.

Funny story though, I queried one of my *top 5* agents last week and somehow in the process of obsessing over this issue sent him the closing line: "I am American and this is my first novel." F$#%!

IceCreamEmpress
12-30-2011, 02:25 AM
The agent doesn't care whether or not it's a thinly-veiled autobiography; they'll figure that out after they get to know you. ;)

The thing is that there isn't anywhere near as much misrepresentation and misinformation about Catholics in the current English-language media as there is about Muslims, so your having inside experience of that religious tradition is relevant. Sad that it would have to be, but that's the way things are right now.

happywritermom
12-30-2011, 04:53 AM
I think I'd go with something like, "In (Name of Novel), I draw from my own experiences as a Muslim living in the U.S."

Midwest
12-30-2011, 09:24 AM
I think including this little bit of bio is a good idea. HappyWriterMom suggests a good way of working it in.

carefulwithwords
12-30-2011, 12:31 PM
Thanks, guys, I'll definitely include it. I appreciate the feedback from everyone.

trickywoo
12-31-2011, 09:41 AM
Ditto everyone else. I think it's relevant given your book's content. I'd include it in a single phrase at the very end. Good luck!

quicklime
01-04-2012, 06:23 PM
I've read basically everywhere that I shouldn't include any bio info in my fiction query unless it's publishing credit (of which, I have none). However, in my case, the main characters in my novels are Muslim. And one of them is a gay Muslim. And although I am a Muslim, I have a decidedly non-Muslim sounding name (as a convert). I'm worried agents will read the query and think oh here's some wasp who wants to write about Muslims :::eyeroll::: .

What does the forum think about signing off my query with "I'm an American Muslim and this is my first novel." <--sounds kinda like the beginning of a PSA doesn't it?

Edit: I read threads top-down, instead of bothering to see what other people have posted. On looking, I see I am a minority opinion in this thread. Anyway, here's my take:

I'd leave your conversion out, as I don't feel it is a credit, but the part I bolded above should be fairly obvious (that, WASP or not, this isn't a "towel-headed camel-jockey cutout fest") from your query itself--you should be able to sell that the book deals with Muslims in a thoughtful and educated manner, which is what you are really worried about proving to the agent, rather than your own faith, in how you word the query and the first couple pages without having to raise your hand and shout "Ooh, and I'm a muslim! Really, I am!!!"

Besides, if you point it out specifically, how do you know they aren't making the counter-assumption, that you are a Muslim convert and this book is your soapbox to brow-beat the rest of us with? (again, the answer is the wording of the query pitch)


just my opinion, but anytime I see things like that the cynic in me asks "ok, so why do they feel the need to stress this point?" and comes up with at least as many plausible concerns or disadvantages. sometimes it is just better to let the writing speak for itself.