Meet a Grubbie: Mariya Taher

GrubStreet runs on coffee, printer ink, and community. This series features just some of the Grubbies who make our community strong. In this edition, meet Novel Generator student Mariya Taher. Mariya has worked in the anti-gender violence field in the areas of research, policy, program development, and direct service. In 2015, she cofounded Sahiyo to empower Asian communities to end female genital cutting. 


What are you working on right now?

I’m currently in GrubStreet’s Novel Generator and working on finishing the first draft of a novel that is set in 1950s India, and is family saga that follows several generations through a caste-based society in the aftermath of the murder of the family patriarch, Judge Moin Ali. I had the idea for this novel years ago in a writing class I took in California (where I’m originally from), but I’ve been struggling to find the time to finish a first draft and the class has been tremendously helpful in getting me toward reaching that goal.


When do you feel most like a writer?

Oh, definitely when I’m in a café or coffee shop somewhere and have my earbuds in and am typing away on my laptop. Sometimes when I’m writing, I might hear a song that just really resonates with me in that moment, and then I end up listening to that song for the entire time I’m at that café and writing. (And I can literally sit in a café for hours at a time doing that.)


What's your favorite drink?

This makes people laugh sometimes, but my daily breakfast consists of a chocolate milk and banana smoothie. And by chocolate milk, I’m talking about adding the NesQuick chocolate powder, because nothing beats the NesQuick bunny’s chocolate mix.


What's your most interesting hobby?

Hmmm. I’m not sure if it is the most interesting hobby, but it is definitely the hobby that I have done the longest: Ever since I was a kid, I collected coins. I think I now have coins from over forty countries. My dad collected coins when he was growing up in India and he gave me all of his coins too.


What first drew you to GrubStreet? (And what made you stay?!)

Honestly, I was really trying to figure out how I could keep working on my novel in a structured way. I did an MFA program at Lesley University which I loved, but after I graduated, I was having a hard time juggling all my other commitments with my writing, and I knew I needed some sort of external structure to help me continue. The other big reason why I was drawn to GrubStreet, and in particular to the Novel Generator program, is because I think MFA programs generally concentrate on working on short stories. I love short stories, and am so thankful for what I learned during my MFA program, but my big passion project is my novel, and I wanted to learn more about how to complete it.


The Manhattan Young Democrats honored Mariya as a 2017 Engendering Progress honoree. In 2017, Mariya also graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, where she received the 2014 Graduate School of Arts & Social Sciences Dean’s Merit Scholarship and the 2016 Lesley University Graduate Student Leadership Award. She is also a prolific writer in fiction and nonfiction with essays and short stories appearing on NPR, Ms. Magazine, Huffington Post, The Fair Observer, Brown Girl Magazine, Solstice Literary Magazine, The Express Tribune, The San Francisco ExaminerThe Flexible PersonaCecile’s Writer’s Magazine, and more. She is also an avid chocolate taster, runner, and beginning climber. Follow her on Twitter @mariyataher83.


Want to find out more about all the other amazing people who make the GrubStreet community what it is? Check them all out here! And find out more about the Novel Generator here, including how to apply. Hurry: Applications close July 25th! 

About the Author

GrubWrites is a space for the writing and reading community to share ideas and seek advice, a place where writers at the very beginning of their careers publish alongside established authors. Book lovers, we bring you reviews, recommendations, and conversations with exciting new authors to keep you up to speed on all things lit. Writers, this is your one stop shop for expert craft talk, opinions on how we learn and teach writing, and essential advice about the publishing industry.

Plus, we want to hear from you! Our ongoing call for submissions is open to literary community members of all types and persuasions. We want to hear from students, teachers, authors, readers, editors, agents, publicists, and any devotee of the written word. If you have something to say about writing, reading, the publishing industry, or anything related to the literary world, this is the place to voice it. We’re particularly committed to advocating for a diverse range of voices in the literary marketplace and raising the visibility of writers from under-represented communities.

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