Persian Night at Bethesda Library

Please join me at the Besthesda Library (Arlington Road branch) April 9th at 7 pm for a talk about my books and travels in Iran, along with some of the contributors to my forthcoming anthology Love and Pomegranates: Artists and Wayfarers on Iran. Visual Artist Rashin Kheiriyeh will show a few of her recent paintings.  Love and Pomegranates (Nortia Press, 2013), is a collection of essays, poetry and interviews that are testimonials from ordinary people who have found friendships, mentors and muses in Iran. I will also read from my new novel Night Letter (Nortia Press, 2012), a story set in early 20th century Iran that is a companion novel to Anahita’s Woven Riddle (Abrams, 2006 and Nortia Press, 2012). Anahita is an American Library Association Top Ten Best Books YA as well as a Book Sense/Indie Choice Book of the American Independent Booksellers Association. It has been translated into several European and Middle Eastern languages. Please join us for an evening of literature, visual and textile arts, and Persian...

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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

This February I was asked by novelist Lyn Miller-Lachman, author the award-winning Gringolandia and the forthcoming novel Rogue, to write a post for the new PEN American blog , which was later featured on The Huffington Post       Lyn also tagged me to be one of the next Next Big Thing Blog Hop authors. This traveling blog started in Australia. Each author answers ten questions about his or her work in progress and “tags” from one to five others to be The Next Big Thing. Many thanks to Lyn for inviting me to participate in both. What is the working title of your book? Night Letter. In Persian it is Shabnameh. Where did the idea come from for the book?Night Letter is a companion novel to Anahita’s Woven Riddle (Abrams, 2006, Nortia Press re-issue, 2013). While traveling in Uzbekistan to the ancient cities of Samarkand and Bukhara that were once part of Persia, scenes started coming to mind for Night Letter. I am also fascinated by the history of the region in the early 20th century when Iran was forming its first parliament. In that era night letters, which consisted of annonymous political expressions, poetry, and satire (written by men and women),  circulated in tea houses and public squares. These captured my interest as well as the story of the women and girls of Quchan, who were sold into slavery to raise money for taxes in Khorasson Province. The incident turned out to be a groundbreaking case in which the newly formed Iranian government stood up for women’s rights. What genre does your book fall under?Historical fiction What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?Iranian actors and actresses. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Night Letter is a tale of slavery, Sufi mysticism and a damsel-in-distress determined to save herself.  Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Night Letter was released February 2013 by a small independent publisher of global affairs and fiction, Nortia Press. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Six months and it was revised many times over four years. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? The theme...

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Mediawashed Middle East

This week my blog post Mediawashed Middle East went live on PEN America’s blog. It begins: For six years I have been speaking about the Middle East in schools, libraries, and community centers in the U.S. I discuss my novels set in Iran, and my experience at Iran’s first International Children’s Book Festival. I also show photos of the Iranian school children, teens, and college students I’ve met—young women who asked me about their career paths…   Read more at: at: http://www.pen.org/blog/mediawashed-middle-east Thanks much to Lyn Miller-Lachman for the opportunity to write for PEN....

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Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2013

Yesterday was Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2013. Angella Nazarian, a writer who has contributed to my forthcoming anthology Love and Pomegranates: Artists and Wayfarers on Iran, wrote a piece about this for the Huffington Post, “An Intimate Conversation with CNN Hero Somaly Mamavailable.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/angella-nazarian/somaly-mam_b_2441674.html?utm_hp_ref=impact More information on this topic is available through a study conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/global-report-on-trafficking-in-persons.html. Human trafficking of children and adults haunts me. I have written a young adult novel Night Letter that will be released in February, which set in early 2Oth century Persia. The story touches upon human trafficking and how the newly formed Majlis (parliament) of Iran stood up for women’s rights. Other related young adult novels include Sold, by Patricia McCormik, and, Trafficked, by Kim...

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Tools for Teaching or Discovering the Mid East

I just returned from the Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA) annual conference, which was held in Denver this year. I am still digesting all that I learned there. While attending a meeting of an affiliate group within MESA called Middle Eastern Outreach Council, I learned about three websites that are fabulous resources for anyone studying the Middle East, including regional languages. Center For Near Eastern Studies is a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education and UCLA is a language site to help entice high school and college students to study Farsi, Arabic and Turkish. Unique features of this language learning website includes videos of Turkish, Farsi and Arabic speakers talking in their native languages and alongside their images are transliterations that highlight the phrases the speakers are saying. Another resourceful site is Fifteen Minute History, Not Even Past, developed by Christopher Rose, Director of Public Engagement at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin. This site features pod casts of graduate students and other professionals about the Mid East. The topics meet Texas cirriculum standards for classroom but the interviews are meant for a wider audience. More to come about this...

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Interested in International Lit? Visit World of Words

Check out my recent post for the Author’s Corner on the University of Arizona website for WOW! World of Words…a site devoted to international literature. http://wowlit.org/books/authors-chair/anahitas-woven-riddle-night-letter/ Coming soon, a recap of the International Board on Books For Young People’s World Congress in...

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Spotlight on The Storyteller Bookstore

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Linda Higham, an independent bookseller and owner of The Storyteller Bookstore in Lafayette, CA. She brought oodles of copies of my new novel set in Iran, Night Letter, as well as the re-issue of its companion novel Anahita’s Woven Riddle, to my reading at the new and gorgeous Walnut Creek Library. Linda has owned her bookstore for over 20 years. About her secret to success, she says, “My employees are educators and librarians who are dedicated to children’s literature, and the surrounding community is loyal to our store.” I’d like to thank the people who attended my talk at the Walnut Creek Library despite that it competed with the San Fransisco Giants game. I enjoyed our...

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Mongolian Storytelling at IBBY London

Greetings from the International Board on Books For Young Readers (IBBY) World Congress in London! The event took place at the Imperial College London August 23-26th. I had the opportunity to speak at this conference on “Why I Wrote About an Iranian Heroine.” It was fantastic to meet writers, editors, librarians and educators from all over the world. In future blog posts I will introduce you to several of the people I met. This cartoon was drawn by the Mongolian storyteller Dashdondog Jamba. He said it is a protrait that he drew of himself when he was five years old. You might notice his small ear, drawn this way because when people annoyed him with what they said. His right hand has more fingers than his left because he uses it more often than the other hand. And, he has many legs because he is always running around doing chores for everyone. I met another writer from Mongolia Ligedeng Orlet. He has written novels for kids and adults and explained that hardly any Mongolian literature is translated into languages other than Chinese or Russian. They also do not have much literature from around the world translated into Mongolian. This is a situation he would like to see improved. Dashdondog Jamba (right) and Ligedeng Orlet at the reception for the Hans Christian Anderson awards. Click on the following link to hear Dashdondog telling a story in Mongolian...

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