When you think Contemporary Romance, Persian girls don’t come to mind. I honestly don’t know, other than the books I’ve written, how many romances live on shelves that have Iranian women as main characters. Not ones set here in the states, living average, every day, American lives. Or at least as average as it gets for middle-easterners. And when you think of a Contemporary Romance author, I’m not what you’d imagine. That’s because, much like my stories, Iranian authors aren’t that common either.
When I began this writing journey years ago, I did it as a way to find the creative outlet I’d lost from my youth. The one that wrote poetry and music, sang at the top of her lungs in front of a crowd, or in a friendly gathering with a buddy accompanying her on the guitar. She’d disappeared decades before, and I was left with a set of bullet points on who I’d become: mother, daughter, wife, sister, dentist. It was heartbreaking and utterly suffocating. I hadn’t yet dreamt of the day when the stories I wrote would actually make it into the hands of readers. But when that day came, I realized that this was my chance to contribute to my community, to shed a light on my culture, in a way that isn’t readily done these days. The birth of my Iranian MCs came to fruition, and now, I can’t imagine doing it any other way.
If you’ve ever read any of my books, you’d see that they are filled with food, language, family, and the small idiosyncrasies that may only be understandable to a Persian girl like myself. That’s because they’re the sum total of my own life.
Every moment from the time I could remember, has been filled with family, gathered around loads of yummy food, as we carry on too many conversations, in loud, obnoxious, animated Farsi. Laughter and the warm and fuzzies have always been in abundance. For as dramatic and unbearable we can sometimes be, there’s a fierce devotion that binds us, one that brings us to the forefront of any battle, big or small, because being in my family means you never have to face life’s struggles alone. And even though boundaries seem scarce at times, I’d trade them in a hundred times over to feel the security and love that I do being part of my Iranian heritage. I do my best to incorporate that level of dedication into my characters.
Darya is a newly graduated doctor working on her fellowship in emergency medicine. She’s focused and determined, so when her mother is diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer, her perfectly manicured plan for her life, goes up in flames. Now she’s faced with the impossible task of caring for her ill mother, keeping her younger sister from falling apart, all the while hiding her own despair as she financially supports them. When Anthony’s offer falls into her lap, she doesn’t think she has a choice but to accept it. It’s the responsible thing to do after all, right? She never imagined that through this tragic time in her life, she’d actually discover who she really is, what she’s capable of doing, and maybe, that it’s time she does something for herself and not only for those she loves.
This is what it means to be an Iranian woman. And this is what I want to show the world. That we too, are much like everyone else. Human, raw, flawed and ever changing. This is at the core of each MC I create, Darya included.
Maybe the world isn’t ready for Persian girls to be splashed across the pages of their romance novels. But I’m going to keep writing them, because they represent me, and the women of my culture.
Iranian women deserve to be reflected in the stories they read like every woman of any nationality does. If even one reader walks away able to identify with my characters in a way they hadn’t imagined possible, then I’m doing my job as an Iranian author ––to shed light on what truly is a beautiful, rich culture.
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