Macmillan Children’s Books will publish a “thought-provoking” YA debut about radicalisation from a South London school teacher.
Lucy Pearse, editor for six-plus at the publisher, bought I Am Thunder and an as yet untitled second novel by Muhammed Khan in world rights deal with Penny Holroyde at Holroyde Cartey.
I Am Thunder follows 15-year-old Muzna Saleem, a shy girl “trying to find her place in the world” who is forced to stand out when she uncovers a deadly secret. The novel explores conversations around radicalisation and “handles difficult subjects with honesty and sensitivity”.
Khan, a high school teacher in Tooting, revealed he was inspired by a recent news story about the radicalisation of three young Muslims.
He said: “In February 2015 news broke of three British school girls who flew out to Syria to join the self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’. As a Muslim and a high school teacher, I found this shocking on many levels, so in April 2015, over the two week Easter break, I sat down and wrote the first draft of I Am Thunder.
“I wanted it to be a warm hug to my Muslim students who are struggling to reconcile the things they see on the news with the Islam they know, and equally for my non-Muslim students, who might be afraid and confused by what they hear.”
Venetia Gosling, publisher for six-plus as Macmillan Children’s Books, said: “Muhammad has created an exceptional teen voice in Muzna Saleem, who leaps from the pages as she navigates the difficulties of growing up in Britain today.
“This striking debut will encourage readers to question what they see and hear and we are proud to publish such a thought-provoking and empowering story.”
I Am Thunder will be published in January 2018.
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