Hello everyone! And welcome back to my author interview series.
Today I am interviewing Patricia Panahi, another member of my Indie Eden Book Club, about her debut novel, Veil of Walls. It is the story of a young girl who goes to Iran with her family to visit her relatives, but ends up staying much longer than she wants to. Let’s see what Patricia has to say about it, and about her writing process.
Hi Patricia! Let’s start with one of my favorite questions: Which typical author interview question do you hate the most?
“Is this book autobiographical?” I lived in Iran during the time period, but if I wanted to write about my own life, I would have written a memoir. Aside from the initial culture shock, my own life wasn’t interesting enough for a memoir, so I wrote Veil of Walls as a complete work of fiction.
Can you give us a short description of your book?
[From back blurb] Anahita Sadeghi, a typical, happy-go-lucky American ten-year-old, was not too keen on traveling to the other side of the world to meet her father’s family. But her month-long vacation turns into a nightmare when her Persian relatives refuse to let her return to the States. She is forced to deal with the dizzying maze of social customs, resist her grandmother’s efforts to mold her into the proper Persian girl, dodge her aunt’s schemes of marriage, and fight to make her own life choices until she can find a way to return home. Longing for her friends and her freedom, only the enigma of her missing aunt, Scheherazade, gives Ana a glimmer of hope of one day escaping Iran for good. Will Ana’s family marry her off and forever bind her to this country, or will she break free of Iran’s walls and find her way back to America?
Is there any famous author that inspires you, or that you admire?
I love good writing and a story that sweeps you away. A few of my favorites are Ann Rice, Alice Hoffman, and Deborah Harkness, among others.
Good choices! Your book is in the literary fiction genre. What drew you to this genre? Do you also like to read books in this genre?
I categorize Veil of Walls as literary, historical, and cultural.
Literary, in my definition, is good writing and since I taught English in college, that is important to me.
Historical and cultural novels transport me to other times and/or other places, bringing history and cultures alive in my imagination.
So to answer your question, I do read regularly in this genre, but I also enjoy a well written book with a touch of magic or the supernatural like works from the authors I mentioned above.
Who is your target audience for this book? What do you think will appeal to them about Veil of Walls?
My target audience are educated females who enjoy reading and learning about other times and cultures, readers of The Kite Runner, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, Memoirs of a Geisha, Septembers of Shiraz, etc.
When you write a book, do you plan out everything beforehand, or do you let the story follow its own course?
I did not plan out Veil of Walls, but I wish I had. It took me ten years and 33 drafts to finally land an agent and a publisher. I am outlining my next book, though.
Wow, that is a long time, and a lot of writing! Do you have any quirky writing habits that you used when writing this book or others?
Not really. I usually just write until my eyes are sore, then stop.
Any writing tips for other writers?
Success in a writing career requires tenacity and extreme patience and persistence. Never give up!
That’s the same advice I give! : ) What would you say is the best way to market your book? With which method have you had the most success so far?
I am still learning this, but I have done several author events. I have found that giving a presentation works best followed by a book signing. I have a website and I am very active on social media and a member of numerous writing and reading groups. My publisher has just placed my book on Kindle Unlimited for a period of time to get attention and more reviews. I am also listed on NetGalley to garner additional professional reviews.
How did your book come to be published? What was your journey to publication like? Did you get a lot of rejection letters before you finally saw your name in print?
Ten years and agent rejections beyond count. Revised again and again using paid editors, notes from agents, notes from publishers after landing an agent, and suggestions from my agent.
You really have gone on quite the journey with this book. Is being a published author everything you dreamed it would be? If not, how is it different? Is there anything you would change about it?
My novel was recently published so cannot say, but wish I didn’t have to do so much of the marketing. I would prefer to just write.
I totally agree (as people might know from my previous posts on the subject). Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, and for all the great writing tips!
About the Author:
Patricia Panahi was born in Massachusetts from an American mother and Iranian father. At the age of nine, her parents divorced and she was taken to Iran where she lived for the next 16 years, muddling her way through the complexity of Persian culture. In her early twenties, she returned to the States and earned a BA in English and MA in Linguistics from San Diego State University, and, years later, a PhD in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health for personal interest.
Panahi has taught English in Iran, California, and Hawaii, owned and operated The Light Spot Bookstore and Coffeehouse in San Diego, and directed English Language Programs for international students for the University of Hawaii. Her writing work includes The Well Woman Cookbook, God Outside the Box, and her debut novel, Veil of Walls. She lives on the beautiful island of Hawaii with her husband, Mark.