By: Negeen Papehn
I’m so happy to be on Writerspace again, discussing my newest release, Guarding Her Heart, with all of you. I fell in love with this sister duo the minute I put them on the page, and so it felt fitting to give little sister Niloo, her own story to tell. I’m hoping those that read this duology will fall in love with them too.
Why sisters you ask? I am one of three siblings, and the only girl, so I grew up enamored by the workings of sisterly bonds. It felt like a superpower I wasn’t given, to have someone you knew as well as yourself, to share all your thoughts and ideas with. Sure, I was close to my brothers, still am, but there were certain things I just couldn’t share with them. Things they couldn’t understand. I was envious of whispered secrets in the night, knowing glances, and conversations about crushes.
When I started on this writing journey, I naturally gravitated toward sibling relationships. Despite not having a sister, my brothers were my confidants in other ways. We too had our own language, one we three recognized amongst the intricacies of our family. And so, my characters naturally needed their own allies as well.
If you’ve ever read any of my books, you’d see that at the heart of each love story, is the deep roots of family. There’s drama and disagreements, but always an abundance of love and fierce loyalties. Sometimes it’s an asset, and sometimes it proves to be part of the conflict. A reflection of the inner workings of an Iranian family. And the sum total of my own life.
Every moment from the time I can remember, has been filled with family, gathered around loads of 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 spirited and unbearable we can sometimes be, there’s a fervent 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, 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.
Niloo is struggling with the loss of her mother from stage 3 lung cancer. A year has passed, and she’s finally finished with her cosmetology degree and ready to get on with her life. With access to the hottest band around, it only makes sense that she’d join Ternura’s glam squad. Touring with her brother-in-law and her best friend seems too good to be true, that is, until Darya, her overprotective, panicked, and pregnant sister, throws a fit. The compromise? Agreeing to Darya’s ridiculous terms: allowing the band’s six- foot, tattooed, stoic, unmovable head of security to babysit her. The question is, do opposites truly attract or will this arrangement end in disaster?
As an Iranian American author, my goal has always been to shed light on what truly is a beautiful, rich culture. I want my readers to identify with my characters in a way they hadn’t imagined possible, despite differences in culture. My hope is, that readers fall in love with the sisters of Set to Music and Guarding Her Heart as much as I have.