I so enjoyed Sky of Red Poppies. Reading it made me realize how much we’re missing by not hearing more from the hearts and minds of Persian immigrants. I was so impressed by the writing style and storytelling abilities it showcased.
Would you share a bit of your childhood with my readers…did your life resemble that of any of the characters in Sky of Red Poppies?
The house where Roya lived is my father’s house. The detailed descriptions are all true, down to the names of the servants. Roya’s life was indeed mine in the beginning – with the exception that I came from a larger family. To present Shireen’s true story as fiction gave me the poetic license to help Roya become who I always wanted to be! However, regardless of some added action to make the story flow, her emotions are absolutely true.
When did you first know you wanted to write?
I must have been born with a pen in my hand! Writing to me is what fresh air is to a runner. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write and according to my teachers, I was put on this Earth to be a writer. Throughout my life, whether I studied, taught at the university, practiced dentistry or raised a family, I took every chance I had to write and when not writing, I dreamed of this day!
Have you had any inspirational teachers or writers in your life?
Many. I take pleasure in being inspired by others. As a young girl I was so impressionable that each time I came across a good book – and I was a heavy reader – I promised myself to someday be as good as that writer. I don’t know if that has changed at all for I still read a lot, learn from great writers and exchange imaginary notes with them!
Did you have a favorite character in Sky of Red Poppies?
One?! I love all of them, even the bad ones! Of course Shireen will forever have a special place in my heart, but how could I not love Pedar, auntie, Reza, Zahra and the rest?
I fell in love with the line of poetry that you quoted in a radio interview, "A word that comes from the heart, has no choice but to settle in another!" Do you find a lot of poetry relevant to life?
Indeed I do. I grew up in a society where poetry is part of life. Persians are really into poetry and in fact, much of our old literature is lyrical. We use poems in conversation, tell fortune from the book of Hafez and even play games that involve poetry. Whenever I feel lost for words, the verses I’ve memorized come to my rescue. This is not peculiar to me as most Persians seem to feel the same.
Will you give us a brief synopsis of your new novel, The Moon Daughter?
The Moon Daughter also comes from the depth of a woman’s heart. It is the story of a young wife, who aims to please her chauvinist husband. Unable to give him the son he wants, she faces great disappointment after each daughter is born. It is told in two parts. Part one, Rana’s Story, begins with the birth of her third child. Not only is this one a girl, she is also born with a problem. This is purely a Persian woman’s story.
Part two is Yalda’s Story, in which the daughter looks back at her mother’s past and seeks revenge. This part is seen and told from an American perspective.
Once again, the novel deals with current issues in Iran, but it probes the injustice that women in Iran as well as those in most of the Middle East encounter.
My editor is taking a final look at it and when I wrote to ask her what had caused a minor delay, she offered this explanation, “It's glorious, actually. So you could say I'm savoring it!” Let’s hope the readers feel the same when it comes out this fall.
Dear Lynette, I hope this has answered your questions and wish to thank you for your support. Furthermore, I thank your readers for their interest in the work of a new writer with an unpronounceable name! Should other questions come to mind, I will be happy to answer them and who knows? I hope we’ll meet someday.
Q&A by Lynnette Phillips, Avid Reader Book Reviews