Please help me welcome Patricia Dunn, author of Rebels By Accident! She’s stopping by today as part of her blog tour organized by JKSCommunications.

A Troubled Teen Sent to Cairo Finds Revolution is Everywhere, Including in Ourselves

When my first party ends in jail, I think things can’t possibly get worse. But then my parents send me to my grandmother in Cairo, and I’m sure my life is over. My sittu is Darth Vader’s evil sister, and I’m sure the only sites I’ll get to see in Egypt are the rooms in her apartment.

Turns out she’s not so bad. We ride camels by the pyramids and ice skate at a mall.

As Sittu says, “Sometimes a moment can change your life.” But it can change the life of a country too. When a girl named Asmaa calls the people of Egypt to protest, I find myself in the middle of a revolution, running from tear gas and guns.

Oh yeah, and I meet the cutest guy I’ve ever seen. Fall in love for the first time. And have my first kiss.

Buy: Amazon | B & N  | Indiebound

I’m Not That Smart

by Patricia Dunn

When people say to me, “It was so smart of you to have written a young adult book. They are so popular.” I smile and think to myself, “I’m not that smart.”

When I started Rebels By Accident, originally titled Misidentified Persons and then True Weirdo and several other titles in between, I didn’t know that I was beginning the long hard journey of writing a novel. I enrolled in a writing class to take my mind off of another novel I had written. It was out in the world looking for an agent and after years of working on that book, it was time to start something new.

Cassandra Medley, at Sarah Lawrence College, was teaching a course called the Writer’s Gym. She’s an amazing teacher and playwright, so I figured even if I didn’t get much writing done, it would be great to be in a class with someone whose work I admired.

One of the first writing prompts Cassandra asked us to do was to write about a hand. It’s structure and texture, whatever came to mind, and before I knew it, the voice of Mariam started to come through. A fifteen-year old teenage girl who had a story she needed to tell. As I read the first free-write out loud, one of the other student’s in the class said, “It sounds like you’re channeling her.” I must have been. There was no way I wanted to write a teenager’s story. I taught teens writing in the summer and their in-your-face honesty, though admirable, scared the heck out of me. Teens are too smart, too sensitive, too everything. Mariam was no different. She had her share, maybe more than others, of teen angst to work out. I wasn’t ready to go there with her. At forty-one I still hadn’t fully recovered from my own adolescent years. I believe we never graduate from high school, emotionally that is. As an adult I could pretend otherwise. But if I were to take on a fifteen year-old narrator there would be no hiding from the truth. There I would be standing in the middle of my high school cafeteria, naked. Raw and vulnerable was not the writing experience I was ready to live. But the harder I tried to ditch her, the stronger Mariam held on. Clinging to my pen and my keyboard every time I tried to write from the point of view of an adult narrator. Eventually, she wore me out, and I accepted Mariam as my narrator. Like many teenagers, she was opinionated and certain of exactly the story she wanted to tell, until, of course, she wasn’t. And so, her story changed again and again, but with each revision, Mariam’s voice grew stronger. Until one day she and I were clear as to the exact story, we wanted to tell. The journey of an Egyptian-Muslim-American teen who in our post 9-11 world, is very disconnected from her culture, and how she finally figures out what it means to be Egyptian and American. She also wanted to tell a love story. This I resisted at first, until she showed me she wanted it to be not just a girl meets boy story, but a story that also includes falling in love with a place and a people, and friends and family. Most importantly, a story that includes falling in love with one’s self.

I didn’t set out to write a young adult story. Like I said, I’m not that smart. I’m just grateful that the protagonist of my novel is.

Author Bio: Patricia Dunn’s debut novel, Rebels By Accident (Aug. 16, 2012, Alikai Press) tells the story of a troubled teen sent to Cairo who finds revolution is everywhere, including in ourselves.

Dunn was the managing editor of, America’s most popular Muslim online magazine from 2003-2008. She has an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College where she also teaches.

Her writing has appeared in Global City Review, where she edited the post-9-11 International Issue., Women’s eNews, The Christian Science Monitor, The Village Voice, The Nation, L.A. Weekly and other publications have featured her writing.

Her work is anthologized in Stories of Illness and Healing: Women Write Their Bodies, from Kent State University Press (2006); Progressive Muslim Identities: Personal Stories From the U.S. and Canada, Muslim Progressive Values; and most recently in the bestselling anthology, Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, Soft Skull Press. She is featured on WISE Muslim Women.

Dunn was raised in the Bronx, became a political activist while living in Los Angeles, has traveled throughout the Middle East, and lived in Jordan and Egypt before settling back down in New York where she lives with her teenage son and her toddler dog.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Thanks Patricia, for stopping by today. I loved hearing about how you channeled Mariam, I’m glad she held on!

Tagged with →  
Share →

4 Responses to Blog Tour: Rebels By Accident by Patricia Dunn

  1. Jimin Han says:

    I love how Patricia talks about resisting the story that is trying to be told through her. I’ve read this book, and it’s incredibly compelling and unique right now because of the way we learn about Egypt. But it’s also not unique in that to be a novel these days, these books need to propel you into the story and not let go and that’s what Patricia has done here with Rebels By Accident. Looking forward to your next book, Patricia!

  2. Connie Stambush says:

    I’m drawn to the idea of learning about contemporary Egypt through a compelling young female protagonist. We need more stories of the world through women’s (young) eyes. And this one is a wonderfully timely story. The fact that Pat didn’t set out to script it to fit the times ensures me that Rebel By Accident will be all the more authentic. I also love how the title …By Accident…mirrors Pat’s path to finding and crafting a voice so fresh in today’s tumultuous world.

  3. kimbacaffeinate
    Twitter: kimbacaffeinate

    What a cool post i loved reading how you ended up writing a YA novel, and it sure sounds fascinating.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted..In a Fix by Linda GrimesMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge