Today’s special guest is … author Sahar Delijani
|© Copyright:Alison Rosa|
First, of course, a warm welcome and thank you for your visit and for taking time to answer our questions.
A curious question in advance: What drink do you prefer? Coffee or tea? A cozy sidewalk cafe or rather a spicy-scented tea house?
I’ve grown up with tea and although I don’t drink it as much as I used to when I was still living with my parents and brothers, it is still a magical drink for me. But at the same time, I think I like the enviornment of a cozy café to a tea house.
Please be so kind to introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Sahar Delijani and I am the author of Children of the Jacaranda Tree, which is my first novel. I was born in Tehran in 1983 and when I was 12, I moved to Northern California with my family. I went to school there and eventually graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in Comparative Literature. That is where I met my husband, an Italian university professor and moved to Italy eight years ago.
Dream job writing: How did you get into writing and when did you start? Who or what influenced you in choosing your profession as an author?
I’ve always wanted to write. I started writing poetry when I was fifteen and that was what I had in mind first: to become a poet. But after university, I realized that poetry wasn’t my preferred means of expressions. I wanted to tell stories, I wanted to create characters, that is when I started writing stories and novels. I have always been a very systematic and obssesive reader. I believe books and stories in general inspired the love for writing in me.
The path from an idea to a finished manuscript:
Tell us about your writing life and how you shape the writing? Sketches and notes, together with a post-it collection or rather everything tidy with a system on a computer?
I first need a very general and broad story-line, for instance, I think I want to write about a woman who meets a former lover after many years, tries to start something new with him, but it is too late. It is very broad but it is of funamental importance to have as a starting point. This story line is the only premediated part of the writing. Then I need a scene to begin the first chapter. After that, there is nothing premediated and preplanned. One scene leads to another. I leave my characters quite free and independent. It is they who carry the story forward. So no sketches, no notes, not outlines, just from one scene to the next. I have utter trust in my characters.
Are you following certain rituals in your everyday writing process?
Do you have a fixed daily schedule with dedicated times for private hours or writing?
I write in the mornings until lunch time. Then I have a break, have lunch, and read for about an hour. Then I start writing again until more or less 6 pm.
When a new book is created …
At what point in time do you show your creation to a test reader for the first time? Do you present your work at all before it is completed? Or do you maybe even let it be read while writing so as to be able to react to criticism right away?
My only test reader is my husband. In the past, when I was sure I am completely done with a chapter, I would send it to him, he would read it and give me feedback, and if I agreed with his points, I would do a last revision and send it to him again for that last approval. Now, for my new book, I read it to him aloud as I finish a new section. It is a completely new thing. It is not a new strategy but something that came to me spontaneously. We both enjoy this reading very much.
What causes you more trouble? The beginning or the end of your book?
The beginning! There is nothing worse than looking at that first blank page and think that you have hundred of pages to go! And the beginning is something that comes directly from me and not from the novel. It is my wisdom that speaks and not the wisdom of the novel, which is far more superior to mine.
As an author do you have any influence on the book title and the cover design?
For the title yes. I come up with my own titles. But for the cover I like to leave that to the publishers and if I don’t like something, I tell them. There is always a final mutual understanding.
The first time you see your own book on the shelf of a bookstore – can you describe THAT feeling?
My knees felt made out of liquid. That night I got a very high fever out of tension and excitement. I felt much better the next day.
Which book has left a lasting impression on you and is an indispensable part of your bookshelf?
The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek.
If was possible: With which fictional character would you like to spend a day with?
I don’t know… I think I prefer to spend a day with the authors of the characters and not so much with the characters themselves.
Book fairs and readings, especially livestreamed readings are becoming increasingly popular. Where will we be able to meet you next?
I am actually on tour in Southern Italy at the moment. In the beautiful region of Puglia. You can find me here!
Do you enjoy public relations / readings or do you suffer from stage fright???
I like meeting new people, writers, and also my readers very much. I am happy to say that I do not suffer from stage fright at all. If I have not been on the road for too long and am not yet exhausted, I feel completely at ease.
As we are blogging ourselves, we are particularly interested in this:
Social networks like Facebook, Twitter & Co intensify the contact between authors and their fans. Blessing or Curse? How do you feel about this? How do you keep in touch with your readers – or the readers with you?
It is both a blessing and a curse, because you sometimes feel obliged to constantly share something with your readers and there are times of course that you have nothing to share, but the sense of obligation remains and it is at time troubling. You also end up spending too much time on Social Networks and less on what you should do, which is to write your next book! So I am trying to create a balance. But I have to say, when I receive a message from my fans, it always makes my day!
How important are reviews for you? Do you take negative reviews seriously and how you react to it?
They are of course very important, because one feels one’s work is recognized and in some ways taken into account. Negative reviews don’t bother me; I could always learn from them.
Let´s talk about your Novel „Children of the Jacarandatree“.
Your debut novel will be published in over 70 countries and translated into 27 languages. Congratulations to you for this great success!
In Germany your book will be released on March 3rd.
Can you give our readers a brief summary about contents of the book?
My book is about the children of political activists in Iran who were first part of the revolution and later became the first victims of the Islamic regime that was established soon after the revolution. Hence, it is about my generation. About our birth, our childhood as the children of the revolutionaries turned persecuted, and later as adults seeking to continue what was started by our parents, which is a free, democratic and just Iran.
You were born 1983 in “Theran’s Evin Prison”. Your parents were arrested for political activities in the times of the Iranian Revolution, when your mother was pregnant with you.
What motivated you to write this novel? Do you write about life experiences of yourself and your family?
I wanted to not only talk about what happened to my family and as a consequence to us the new generation, but also about a period in Iranian history that in my opinion changed the destiny of Iran forever. I wanted to talk about how a dictatorship is born and how it is resisted.
Where does autobiography end and novel begin?
Neither begins or ends. They go hand in hand throughout the novel.
Was writing this book a difficult process for you and your family?
It was of course very emotional, specially the two chapters based in prison which are the two chapters that are based on reality and the rest of the book is more of fiction.
Do you talk about the time gone by, the Revolution, the captivity of your parents and the political changes in the country a lot?
I talk about it a lot because I talk about my book a lot through the promotions and presentation. But definitely the political changes of the country is a very live and present topic for Iranians.
How was your research work?
Did you gain new insights in the course of these talks, learn new aspects?
For the first part of the novel which is based in the 80s, I spoke to my parents but also did research on my own of old and new articles, newspapers and books. Through the research and specially talking I was taken even more profoundly into the deep grief that continued to hunt both my parents and all the other families who had lost their loved ones during the violent repressions in Iran during that period.
You emigrated to America together with your family and today you live in Italy with your husband.
Do you occasionaly travel to Iran? Do you have family there to visit? How is your novel received there? What does your family think about your novel?
I used to go to Iran very frequently before the publication of the book. I still have much family in Iran. The book will not be published in Iran but we are hoping to get it to the Iranians (once the Farsi translation is done) via internet.
My family is very happy about it. There is something immensely relieving in having something that one has lived for so long in silence and secret out and in open and read by people all over the world. That is the biggest satisfaction for us all.
What do you want readers to get out of this book?
That Iran is a country of resistance, of courage, of solidarity and of love.
Last but not least:
Which new book project are you working on right now? What can we look forward to next? Can you tell our readers a little something beforehand?
At the moment, I am working on my second novel. I am still very much obssessed with the the 80s in Iran and for its utmost importance and weight on recent history of Iran. Hence my second novel is based in Iran, in the 80s and the changes the country went through and the both emotional and existential implications of these changes for the people who lived it.
Who or what makes you particularly happy?
My husband, my family. Traveling. Reading.
And … what makes you rather contemplative?
The impact of the great History on individual lives. The way a person’s life can change simply because of the political and historical context of one’s country in a given a moment of history.
Would you tell us your own unique recipe for a good mood?
Sunshine and spending time with family and friends!
Thank you so much for spending your time with us and answered our many of questions. We hope and wish that we will be reading more from you! We are looking forward to your next books.
All the best and good luck for the future!
Wer mehr über die Autorin erfahren möchte, kann dies unter folgenden Links tun:
Rezension zum Buch: –> LINK
Thank you for publishing this very nice interview! Really enjoyed reading it. Lots of interesting and also profound insights.