BookView Interview with Author Amir Barghi

Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.

Recently, we interviewed Amir Barghi, about his writing and his recently released SARAH, tale of a stunningly beautiful young woman struggling to break free of bonds of a forced relationship. (Read the review here.)

Amir Barghi was born in Tehran, Iran. He graduated from the Tehran University of Art with a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design. He received his Bachelor of Science from California State University, Northridge. He is the author of two books, Devil’s Garden and Sarah. Barghi immigrated to the United States in 2012 and lives in Los Angeles.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing a novel?

I think the starting point of writing is the most difficult part of a story. I usually open my story with an event or sudden accident to catch the reader’s attention. I used to imagine the whole story in my mind. It was a raw material; then I would try to separate each important part of the story. I create the main characters and analyze them to determine what their reactions would be in different situations. I try to depict them or even talk to them. I can say, I live with them for a while.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I know most writers are afraid of harsh criticism. Critics can scare people, make fun of them, or not take them seriously, but writers must be brave—don’t be scared of some scorning language. They must remember that writing is a hard job. It isn’t easy to create a good story. It requires a vivid imagination and clear thought, so they must credit themselves for exquisite talent and hugely time-consuming efforts.

What is your favorite childhood book?

I loved Robinson Crusoe, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

How often do you read?

I used to read every day but I have scarce time for it ever since I immigrated to the USA.

Were your parents interested in literature? Did they read a lot? What books did you have in the house?

My father and mother both liked poems and they recited many poems by 12th-century Persian poets. We also had many Russian masterpieces in our house such as Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, and The Brothers Karamazov.

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

I read a book many years ago about how to write screenplays by Eugene O’Neill. It was a wonderful book that helped me a lot. I’ve also been inspired by the book One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez to think differently about fiction. His magical realism is astonishing.

Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?

I usually see my stories in my dreams, but Sarah was different. I heard about a nice, rich woman who betrayed her husband when I was in high school. She accepted losing all her realty to finally get divorced. I read an old Chinese story about a nightingale in a cage at the same time. I thought there was some similarity between these stories so I decided to write it, but I couldn’t publish it because of harsh censorship in my country after the revolution. Sarah had a long journey to get published.

How did you decide on this title?

Sarah was the name of one of my classmates in high school.  She was the most beautiful girl I have ever seen in my life. I loved her, but I never told her about my feelings because I was too shy. I picked her name for the main character of the book. If she were an actress, she would be the best option to play the role of Sarah. I could close my eyes and see her face whenever I wanted to imagine a scene or section of the story.

Which scene was most difficult to write? Why?

I think the most difficult part was the section when Sam tries to explain to Sarah how he is feeling about the meaning of life. He wants to tell Sarah that life has beautiful meaning if we live in the moment, not in the past or the future. We can see the magnificent world if we clear our mind from every thought. It was a philosophical concept and it was so hard for me to translate it from Persian to English.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

I hope they enjoy Sarah and that it has some positive effect on their life. But I don’t like advising people; I don’t like to dictate to the readers what they must learn from my story. They might have different conclusions from mine. They might see something that I couldn’t recognise. So it’s better not to tell readers what they will take away from the story. A good story must be clear enough that the reader can understand the aim of the writer.

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