When Jennifer Zobair sat down to write her first novel, she already had a muse in mind for the heroine, a glamorous, foul-mouthed Muslim woman whose high-profile job in Boston politics is on the line after a terrorist attack.
The character, Zainab, was inspired in part by Muslim political operative Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton and vice chairwoman of Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Zainab and her fictional friends struggle to balance their high-pressure jobs with family expectations, like many real-life Muslim girlfriends of the author, an Iowa-born convert to Islam. And although terrorists are central to the plot, Zobair said, she was determined not to let them overshadow the romance at the heart of the story.
“I was thinking of people with anti-Muslim views and thought, ‘Can I change that? What would it take?’ ” Zobair recalled in an interview at her home in Virginia. “Well, it’s got to be love.”