February 6, 2018

Blog Tour: Sadia by Colleen Nelson – Interview


Hello Readers!  Welcome to our Tour Stop for

Sadia by Colleen Nelson

presented by Dundurn!

We have Colleen on the blog today for a quick Q&A!

Be sure to check out the other stops during the tour!



Three female Muslim teenagers must decide how far they are willing to go to defend their beliefs when faced with the pressures of life.

Thirteen-year-old Sadia is Muslim and passionate about one thing: basketball. When her teacher announces tryouts for this year’s co-ed team, she jumps at the opportunity. Her talent speaks for itself. Her head scarf, on the other hand, is a problem. Surrounded by her classmates and a new friend, Syrian refugee Amira, Sadia learns about standing up for herself and fighting for what is right.

Written from Sadia’s point of view, the book examines how three female Muslim teenagers experience life. Sadia wants to maintain her Muslim identity and refuses to remove her head covering at a basketball tournament; Amira is a Syrian refugee, reeling from the trauma she experienced when she fled her home; and Nazreen is ready to eschew her Muslim heritage to fit in with the popular crowd at school.



Thanks so much for taking the time and spending time with us here at Chapter by Chapter!

Thanks for having me! Did you know you were the first book blogger I connected with? Way back in 2013 for ‘The Fall’. I’m so happy to see how your blog has grown.



Describe your book in 140 characters or less (like a Tweet)

Sadia is passionate about basketball—and talented. But an unfair rule means she has to find a way to stand up for herself without letting her team down.



What was your inspiration for writing this book?  Was it in a dream? A thought while taking a walk?

As a Teacher-Librarian, I ask my students to make suggestions about what kinds of books they’d like to see on the shelves. One requested a book with a Muslim main character. We didn’t have many and the ones we did have (The Breadwinner series), she’d read. I asked the book store and other teachers and librarians, but no one had any suggestions. I realized there wasn’t much reading material that featured Muslim main characters. I knew there must be other kids, like my student, who wanted to read a book that reflected their life and their struggles, so the solution was obvious to me—I had to write one.

While doing research, I came across an article about a girls’ basketball team who had to sew their own uniforms to ensure that they were hijab. An idea started to sprout and within the space of six weeks, I had a decent first draft of what would become ‘Sadia’.


Tell us about the main character(s).

The main character is Sadia. She is a tomboy and loves playing basketball. She’s just made an elite co-ed team at her school but now that she’s transitioned to high school, things are changing. Her best friend, Mariam, has started to de-jab (take off her hijab) and is more interested in boys than hanging out with Sadia. Sadia has also developed a crush on a team mate, Josh, which she didn’t even know she had until Mariam started flirting with him.


Sadia isn’t just conflicted about the Josh-Mariam love triangle, the basketball tournament turns out to have a discriminatory rule about head coverings and Sadia has to choose between wearing hers and not playing. She also finds out a secret about her brother and she has to tame Mariam’s new wild streak which could get them both in trouble. Through it all, Sadia keeps herself grounded and determined (my favourite characteristic in YA characters), and relies on good sense and compassion to help her make decisions.



Do you have a favorite quote or specific part in the book that you really love?

Yes! Every time I read it, I get teary. Without giving too much away, Sadia’s friends stand up for her at a critical moment. Writing about kids supporting each other and making, not the easy choice, but the right choice was a joy to write. As a teacher, I see kindness in students all the time. It comes naturally and makes my heart happy. I wanted to make sure the good in people came through with this book. A lot of my books deal with dark, gritty issues, so writing about ‘Sadia’ and her friends was a welcome break.



Was there a specific part in the book that you had an especially difficult time writing?  If so, why?

I wouldn’t say it was difficult, but it posed an usual challenge. I’m not Muslim, but Sadia, Mariam and a new girl in their class, Amira, are. I did a lot of research to make sure their stories accurately reflected Muslim teenagers’ lives. I had three women read the book, including a friend of mine who read an early draft and pointed out how my misconceptions had snuck into the book. It was eye-opening and a great learning experience.



What sort of projects do you have going on right now.  Any new books coming out?

I have another book coming out in May with Yellow Dog Books. It’s called ‘Pulse Point’ and I wrote it with my sister, Nancy Chappell-Pollack. It’s dystopian, which is a new genre for me. Kaia lives in world where citizens have to produce the energy they consume. As soon as a person can’t produce enough energy, they are killed. When Kaia learns the mother she thought was dead is alive, she escapes and discovers secrets about City that change everything.



It was great having you on the blog today!  We hope you’ll decide to stop by again someday, and we wish you much success!!

Thanks so much! I look forward to coming back again too!





[about-author author=”Colleen Nelson”]



1 Comment

  1. Nina @ Looseleaf Reviews

    You have me sold! I usually have a hard time getting through “sports” books, but this sounds really interesting. Great interview, too.

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