The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

night letter Cover

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 human trafficking relates to Patricia McCormick’s novel Sold, and, Trafficked by Kim Purcell. There are no historical YA books set in Iran to which I can compare Night Letter, except novels by Susan Fletcher, Shadow Spinner and Alphabet of Dreams.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I feel I answered this above so I won’t elaborate here.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The multiple points of view lend a dynamic voice. As one reviewer commented for the The Bulletin of the Center for the Children’s Book, “Shifts in narrative perspective, from Anahita’s first-person account to the third-person narration of events taking place on her behalf, keep readers engaged in this action-laden adventure in a seldom-explored historical setting.”

Art lovers and others might enjoy the cover art, which was a commission by Tehran-based artist Rashin Kheiriyeh. Her fairytale style fits the premise of the book. Also, the art featured inside the novel is by regional Iranian, Turkish and Central Asian artists.

Educators will appreciate the extensive author’s note, glossary and map.

Here are the authors I’m tagging. Check back for others I will tag:

Kris Dinnison 

Claire Rudolf Murphy

Mary Cronk Farrell

Maureen McQuery