Teen Press Corps member, Ivy, interviews Darius The Great Is Not Okay author, Adib Khorram
Ivy: Why did you want to be a writer?
Adib Khorram: I don’t know I ever made the conscious decision to be a writer. I just had been writing since I was probably about 13. And as I did it more and more I started to think ‘Oh, well maybe I can actually get a book out there!’ I just kept plugging away at it.
I: Where do you find inspiration for your books?
AK: I find them anywhere, usually in the shower. That’s when I get all my best ideas, in the shower where I can’t write them down. But almost always, it’s from some problem that bothers me or some worry I have or some anger I haven’t been able to get rid of.
I: Why did you want to write Darius the Great?
AK: I wanted to write Darius the Great is Not Okay because I was visiting my family in Canada, my Iranian family, but they all live in Vancouver, and I had just finished the first draft of a book that I thought was unique and brilliant and was going to be the one that would get out there. And then, the day after I finished it, I saw an announcement for a book that sounded exactly like what I had just written. I was like ‘F…fine.’ and so I raged for like a day and I said: “Okay, I will write something that only I can possibly write.” And I don’t know anyone else that has my family, so I ended up just writing about Iranian Americans and family.
I: Obviously, a lot of your book is inspired by real life, but are there any specific things that are unique to you that you put in there?
AK: I would say all of the feelings about being torn between a family that you love but don’t know is very much inspired by my feelings, growing up with my family like that.
I: Do you think you would have read your own books when you were a teenager?
AK: Probably not. We had a lot of very boring assignments at my high school like Crime of the Ancient Mariner and A Separate Peace, and so that really turned me off of reading in general for a lot of my teenage years. When I first got back into reading, it was with sci-fi novels, so I probably would not have picked mine up. Maybe if I saw that it was an Iranian American might have grabbed it, but otherwise, it was pretty well outside my wheelhouse.
I: Why do you want to write a contemporary?
AK: I don’t know. I think that’s just what… I don’t know, I don’t think it was a conscious decision, it was just like that’s the story I felt like telling.
I: What are some of your favorite books right now?
AK: I just finished, like two days ago, I finished a book called We’ll Fly Away by Brian Bliss about a teenager that’s on death row. And it was listed for the National Book Award and it’s a really great work about what’s wrong with our criminal justice system and economic disparities and the kind of negligence of adults sometimes perpetuate on kids. So, that really stuck with me. Also, I’m completely obsessed with Natalie Parker’s Seafire. Yeah, we’re basically twins. Especially in our world today, I desperately needed kick-ass girls standing up to toxic masculinity. I’ve been super obsessed with those lately.
I: What are you thinking about writing in the future?
AK: I definitely have a couple more contemporaries I would like to write probably, and at least one of them is going to be more set in high school. I’m completely obsessed with the Netflix series American Vandal, and so I feel like I’d love to write something that has the feel of that, but I haven’t figured out what that is yet.
I: In your opinion, what makes Star Trek great?
AK: Oh, my God, you don’t have time for this! I love the future it presents for humanity, that we will eventually past our problems and learn to embrace inclusion and diversity and equality and recognize that everyone has something to contribute to the future.