Bonus Q&A: Betsy Bird Interviews Susan Muaddi Darraj


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Listen along as The Story Seeds Podcast host Betsy Bird chats with Susan Muaddi Darraj (author of the debut middle grade series Farah Rocks and a 2014 AWP Grace Paley Award, 2016 American Book Award, and 2016 Arab American Book Award winner). They go behind the scenes and talk about what it was like working with 12 year old Sulaf on Episode 8 “A Girl Who Looks Like Me” and grow her story seed about a young Arab-American girl who finds herself at the center of a mystery at the theatre where she works.

Susan talks about how Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe and her visit to the Riverside Theater inspired the story she grew. Sheds light on the contemporary authors she admires: Jarrett Lerner, Toni Morrison, Esmeralda Santiago. And, she shares two tips for young writers and our listeners:

  • Reading makes you a better writer
  • Don't write yourself into a tired state. End your day at an interesting point in your story so that you can pick up fresh where you left off the next day

Books and media mentioned in this episode: Farah Rocks series by Susan Muaddi Darraj, Hercule Poirot Mysteries by Agatha Christie, Miss Marple Mysteries by Agatha Christie, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Netflix's Anne With an E, The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Calls to Action

Kids: Grow your own stories with the help of our Imagination Lab activity e-zines! Call The Story Seeds Hotline at 646-389-5153, email us at, or visit our website to submit your story ideas. You can also join The Story Seeds Society, our kids listeners club.

Grownups: Visit for subscription links, to sign up for our newsletter, and to download our printable activity e-zines for your kids (or the kid in you!) that offer opportunities to read, write, and get creative alongside listening to each episode . You can also follow us on Instagram @storyseedspod, on Twitter @litsafarimedia, and on Facebook @literarysafari.

Get our Imagination Lab: Experiments in Creativity activity book! It pairs perfectly with the podcast and features tons of episode-inspired prompts and projects! Order your copy here!

This episode is also available on YouTube. Subscribe here.

Support Us

Visit our recently launched page where you can support The Story Seeds Podcast on a recurring or one-time basis. Your donation - large or small - will help us create more episodes of the show and give us the ability to provide opportunities for more kids from around the world to participate in Story Seeds.

Show credits

Credit to Matt Boynton and Ania Grzesik of Ultraviolet Audio for the sound mixing, design, and score of our bonus episode. Our theme music is composed and performed by Andrew VanWyngarden.

The Story Seeds Podcast is a creation and production of Literary Safari

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