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I’m not sure why, but I stopped writing in high school. In fact, I didn’t think about writing again in any serious way until sometime in law school (not being very good at science, I’d decided to pursue law instead of medicine). After I graduated, I practiced family law for Legal Services in New York City, representing survivors of domestic violence who were primarily from South Asian countries. It was good work; every day I did something tangible to help someone else and I grew close to some of my clients. But the more I practiced law, the more I realized I didn’t want to be a lawyer, and the more I wondered why I had waylaid my dreams of writing. I realized that, if I didn’t at least make a serious attempt to pursue a career as a writer, I’d always regret it, and spend the rest of my life wondering “what if.” I began taki
Right before I started at Iowa, I did a writing residency at Hedgebrook. While I was there, I wrote a humorous monologue about a Pakistani-American girl recounting some of her more traumatic teenage experiences. This monologue was later performed in San Francisco. The audience seemed to really enjoy it, and I began to think that there might be a novel here, and how it would be a funny novel, but also an important one, because there weren’t very many books that addressed the experiences Pakistanis or Muslims have growing up in U.S. When I got to Iowa, I was still mulling over the idea when I found out that a children’s fiction workshop was being offered (apparently for the first time ever). I took this as a sign, registered for the workshop, and began working on Skunk Girl. The rest, as they say, is herstory.
Sheba Karim lives in New York City. She is working on a short story collection and is very glad not to be a lawyer anymore.
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