Meet the Conference Faculty: Serene Hakim

“It’s important to find someone who not only understands your work but who you feel comfortable talking openly with.”

-Serene Hakim

Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 26th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 28–June 30, 2019, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Serene Hakim

Serene Hakim has been with Ayesha Pande Literary since 2015. A child of immigrants, she grew up straddling cultures and languages. She is looking for both adult fiction and non-fiction as well as YA (all genres) with international themes or a focus on LGBTQ+, feminist issues and underrepresented/marginalized voices. She is especially interested in stories dealing with the Middle East and is specifically looking for writing that explores meanings of identity, home, family and parenthood/motherhood. Forthcoming projects include Kristen Arnett’s debut novel Mostly Dead Things.

 Scribe: What is your approach to the author/agent relationship?

Serene Hakim: For me, the author/agent relationship is really unique. It’s a professional relationship, but it’s also very personal so it’s important to find someone who not only understands your work but who you feel comfortable talking openly with. We’re your advocates and want to make sure we’re all on the same page. So I believe in full transparency and being open and honest about my approach, both in terms of my revision plans and the submission later down the road.

Scribe: Are there specific elements that draw you to a project?

SH: I love when projects have some sort of quirky element or something that’s just a bit different and fun. In this sense, I love magical realism, but I’m also drawn to offbeat themes. No matter what though, I love confident, voice-y writing and a compelling plot (which I totally know is what everyone says they want!).

Scribe: Tell us about a recent project you’re excited about!

SH: The first book I ever sold is finally coming out this June – Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett (about a woman who takes over her father’s taxidermy shop) – so I’m really excited to see this book exist in the world and I can’t wait to hear how readers react. In terms of projects that I’m working on, one of my authors is writing a YA coming-of-age story about a Filipina-American girl who gets into a lot of trouble in the aftermath of her mother’s death. It’s heart wrenching but also subtly funny and so relatable. Another one of my authors is working on an adult novel about two Iranian-American friends who start having odd mystical experiences that connect them to a culture they thought they had lost.

Scribe: And also, in your bio, you mentioned that you’re interested in novels dealing with themes of family and identity. Is there a novel that you recently enjoyed that deal with these themes?

SH: Last year I read Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram and loved it. It follows a boy who visits Iran for the first time with his family and it expertly captures the feeling of both being connected to a culture and yet completely outside of it. The author focuses a lot on family, friendship and identity, and it’s basically everything I’m drawn to!

Thanks, Serene!

Click here to read our 2019 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2019 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 28-June 30) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.

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