Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Author Spotlight - Nasrin Mottahedeh on her award winning children's picture book



WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?
Up until the 9th grade, I averaged a “C” in creative writing, but in the middle of this grade, our Literature teacher went on maternity leave and a new teacher substituted for her.
My first writing assignment in her class was returned to me with no grade. In red, she wrote, “Nasrin, in the future, you will become an excellent writer if you stop writing so poorly now. Girl, don’t hold back your creativity. Re- write the assignment and resubmit it.”
It was there and then that I realized that fear of being different had made me hold back, and I ended up writing “poorly”. And that teacher’s challenge is how my love of writing began.  
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
As far as I recall, I always wanted to become a world traveler. During summer, my niece and I would have these elaborate plans for traveling the world. I remember, when I was around 6 years old, I had a tricycle that I tried not to use too much so I could use it in my future world travelings!
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?
Ice Dream’s Wish was not my first choice. Since there is a mention of a computer in the very first pages of the book, I originally wanted to call it www.awish.com.true which I figured could be a good marketing tool for website and products as well. But my daughter thought it might be too complicated for children and suggested this name.  
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
“The girl, who had given the snowman the rosebud heart found it a few steps away and noticed how it had changed. She did not know that all the love Ice Dream had felt during that day, had filled his heart, helping it blossom into a perfect rose.”  This is my favorite because I believe that, even love alone, could have achieved the conclusion of the book.  
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
As an author (whose name has skipped my mind) said, “In every book written, part of the author resides”
Any of the three kids in the book could have been my childhood; I was a very inquisitive child!
The angel is who I wish to be: a miracle doer. 
And the snowman is who I think I am: caring..  
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
Being caring and generous is not only good, but it’s cool as well.  
TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
I do have a funny story to share about my book, Ice Dream’s Wish.
On the day it was published, I was on my way home with boxes of fresh off the press books, when I received a call from an old, elderly friend who, when she found out about my new book, insisted on receiving a copy that day. Once there, she asked me to read a few pages out loud to her. I was barely on the second page when she told me that she needed to close her eyes for better concentration. In less than a minute, I noticed that the deep concentration was making her snore! Just to find out if she really was asleep, I started to read, in the same tone, her shopping list, that was left on the table! And oddly enough, she would nod occasionally and then more snoring. I realized it was time for me to leave, so I got a little closer to her and shouted, “Boo” in her ears. That did the trick, and I said goodbye and left. 
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
I don’t believe I was influenced by a particular style of any author in writing this book. But there is one author who inspired me to write it.  When my daughter was 8, I was at a bookstore searching for a good book for her. While there are plenty of good children’s books, I just couldn’t find the one I was looking for. So I started browsing the other sections and found this inspiring quotation by Toni Morrison that said, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it,” And this corresponded with my daughter’s writing assignment about “The day the snowman started to walk.”
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
Every good book I have read has influenced my life in a way. In my youth, reading The Fruits of the Earth by the French author, Andre Gide, strengthened joy, love of life and appreciation of every moment in me. A few years later, the Russian authors like Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Chekhov taught me about social issues such as education, war, poverty, freedom, and so on which influenced my outlook on the world. And later in life, writers like Hemingway, Garcia Marquez, and Jose Saramago educated me about courage, honesty of emotions, and creatively mixing imagination with reality, and tragedy with humor. 
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
For many years, I used to publish a magazine that was the first official magazine for women in Farsi outside of Iran. And owing to the fact that I both published and edited it, I had complete freedom in writing and choosing authors and articles without interference or censorship of a superior, and that encouraged me to work with great enthusiasm and a sense of creating a unique magazine with high standards.  
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS?
Well, first I clean my computer screen and dust off the keyboard. Then I pick a number 2 pencil and start writing!
HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED? 
I self-published and am still searching for an agent.  I am waiting to find a publisher and then have a big celebration!
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
God bless Google to find how. And don’t be afraid of rejections.  
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? 
Actually, I would like to share that I only tried to acquire a publisher once. He seemed to like the story, and he said he would gladly publish my book if I would westernize the illustrator’s and my names. His reasoning was that because of political issues, Middle Eastern names are not favorable and hard to market. Of course, I refused that offer, and now, after receiving four literary awards, I realize that, actually, book fans care about good writing, not the name of the author and I truly believe that this openness is what distinguishes progressive countries such as the United States.  
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Yes, I am in the process of writing two children’s book, of which, one is a sequel to Ice Dream’s Wish. In addition, I am putting the finishing touches on a humorous book in Farsi for adults called The Mini Writings of N. On the internet, sometimes I am known as “N”.  

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org