What to Read Wednesday

05 Dec



The first Wednesday of December and time for WHAT TO READ WEDNESDAY! We’re in for a treat today, so sit back and get ready to enjoy.

Please help me welcome author Zohreh Ghahremani…and feel free to call her Zoe. She’s the author of Sky of Red Poppies. Her novel won a 2012 One Book, One San Diego selection and she also has an impressive roster of reviews on Amazon for her work…and as you’ll learn from our interview, Zoe is a very interesting lady.  So let’s get started 🙂

I’m honored to have you join me today on What to Read Wednesday Zoe. Please tell us about yourself in 5 sentences.

I am an Iranian-American and have lived in the US for nearly forty years. I was born to be a writer. I left the field for which I was trained and decided to write full-time. My hobbies are painting, cooking and gardening. I write both in English and in my native language, Persian.

We share a couple of the same hobbies…my favorite being cooking. I love how creative you can get in the kitchen when the mood suits. If we looked under your bed, what would we find?

Crossword puzzles.

Do you prefer to read with an e-reader or to read “real” books?

“I’m just an old-fashioned girl!” for I like to underline, edit, and make notes on the border. So for me it’s definitely the real thing.

What genre (s) do you write?

Literary fiction.

Why did you choose that particular genre?

“Literary”, to push for my best writing and ‘fiction” to twist and turn facts any which way I choose. It’s fun to play God!

Share the blurb from SKY OF RED POPPIES.

“A testament to the transcendent power of fiction, The Moon Daughter takes its readers on a journey through, across and between two strikingly distinct, yet decidedly connected worlds. Zohreh Ghahremani manages to enlighten, engage and entertain her readers in a way all authors aspire to and few ever achieve.” Melody Moezzi, author of War on Error.

Let’s play LUCK SEVEN…describe your book using 7 words.

Women, Iran, poignant, contemporary, poetic, friendship, fresh voice.

Wonderful choices, they really give you a great feel for what the story is about. What’s a favorite line from your book that you’re proud of?

“It is the flexibility that I miss the most about my childhood; it is the remembrance of that innocence which helps me to forgive myself for who I have become.”

What makes your book stand out from others in the same genre?

Unlike other books that tell the story of few, mine is the story of an entire nation and its characters are chosen from all parts of Iranian society. Readers meet the good, the bad, the rich and the poor. My pen became the camera to depict decades that will never be again and I did it without taking sides.

Did you have to do a lot of research for SKY OF RED POPPIES, and if so how did you go about it?

I left Iran years before the revolution, so naturally, my information on its current events is limited and I needed to do much research, consulted those who were well-informed and read books.

Please share an excerpt from SKY OF RED POPPIES.

The door opened and nothing could have made me happier than the sight of Jenab, hauling his overstuffed briefcase and taking long, heavy steps. Leaning to the opposite side for balance, my teacher’s face had tightened into a serious expression and he did not bother to greet us. He dropped his case on the desk and went straight to the blackboard, where he wrote in large letters, “I think, therefore I am.”

Twenty-eight teenage girls stared back in utter silence. I could not begin to guess the topic he had chosen for the day’s discussion, but if any teacher could be bold enough to discuss what went on downstairs, it would be this one. Coming directly from the office, he had to know. But as he continued to stare at the class without offering any information, I concluded that perhaps he, too, was being cautious.

Gentle rain rapped on the window, and the smell of burning coal wafted from the corner fireplace. Our classroom rarely had enough heat, and now the thought of secret police being in the building made it impossible to feel warm.

Jenab ran long fingers through his graying hair. With half-opened lids of his droopy eyes, his expression held a permanent gloom. “Some days do not begin on the best note,” he said, putting more weight on the word ‘some’. “But I’m asking you to be in the present. Here and now. Because despite what’s pouring out there, our jobs remain within this classroom.” He turned to the window, as if to mask his apprehension. A drizzle brushed the building. The wind made the raindrops slide in different directions and the little squares of glass filtering gray light created a jigsaw puzzle of a rainy day.

The edge in his double-meaning words intensified my anxiety. If those men had not come for Jenab, then what did they want? I ran a list of other teachers in my mind, but none stood out. Any negative comments about the Shah or the slightest hint of sympathy for the oppositionists could result in secret police involvement. But no one at our school discussed such matters, nor had I heard of any demonstrations in our town.

Someone coughed and Jenab looked in that direction. Back to the blackboard, he tapped a finger under the words he had written, leaving a clean dot with each tap. “If what Descartes said is true, then your true existence began here. At this school.” He smiled his crooked smile. “With me.”

I agreed, and took the deep silence of the class to mean others did, too. Jenab thrived on his ability to mesmerize an audience and at my age, I longed to be mesmerized.

“There’s a unique substance in each of us,” my teacher began his opening monologue. “A raw matter known as the child. Pure and impressionable, flexible enough to be molded. Like clay.” His hands moved around an imaginary mound in the air. “Unfortunately, in the unbearable heat of the kiln we call ‘life’, that clay hardens and, before we know it, we are the unchangeable adult.” He went back to the window and stared out at the overcast sky hanging there like a wet sheet. “If an adult is dissatisfied with the outcome, he can take on a variety of colors to disguise his identity. But deep down, the hardened clay maintains its true form.”

Jenab went back to his desk and took out a book. I studied him amid the shuffling sounds of notebooks and pens around me as my peers prepared for a lesson in literature to follow. Jenab opened his book and began to read in his slow, deliberate manner. He may have distracted others, but I felt let down. On any other day I would have considered Jenab’s monologue my true lesson. His philosophical approach to literature gave flavor to the monotony of textbooks. I absorbed his words, drank them in, and in that drunken haze, dreamed my dreams. But this time he wasn’t convincing enough. I didn’t agree with his clay metaphor at all. Too young to fathom such hardening, I couldn’t believe my free spirit would ever be caged.

If you had to give a newbie author a pep talk to encourage them to keep going, what would you tell them?

It’s a long and bumpy journey, but you can only make it by putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. The only question you need to ask is if this is what you really want. Should the answer be yes, keep going and don’t allow anything to stop you.

Did anything surprise you about the publishing process?

Years ago I saw a movie titled, “The Singer, Not The Song.” At the time, this phrase made a lot of sense, but Sky of Red Poppies helped me to realize how sometimes the ‘singer’ is but an instrument to help the ‘song’ find its own way. As a writer, I used to believe that publishers were the only deciding factor in how well a writer did, but now realize it is the book itself that succeeds. My independently published novel has brought me more readers than I could have dreamed of and by now my “Poppies” have found a life all their own.

Would you give us a sneak peek into what your current WIP is?

The Moon Daughter is ready for publication. It is the story of two women. Part one Rana – is told in third person. It is the story of a mother of three girls in Iran’s male dominated society of late 1960’s. She is faced with issues such as infidelity, bigamy, and other matters known to many women, especially those in the Middle East. Part Two is Yalda, the story of her American raised daughter, now a lawyer, who goes back to Iran to find out some facts. She tells her story in first person.





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34 responses to “What to Read Wednesday

  1. Neecy Kelly

    December 5, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Great to meet you, Zohreh! Good advice, I’m still hurdling some obstacles in this vast industry, but I’m not giving up.
    I wish you the best with Sky of Red Poppies,

    • Zohreh K. Ghahremani

      December 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Thank you, dear Neecy. I wish you much success and know it will come soon. Just don’t give up!
      Happy Holidays,

    • ChristineWarner

      December 5, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      Hi Neecy..thanks for stopping by…and I know you’ll succeed!!!

  2. ellaquinnauthor

    December 5, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Great interview and excerpt. Congratulations on your release!

    • Zohreh K. Ghahremani

      December 5, 2012 at 11:32 am

      Thank you, and I hope you’ll enjoy my story.

    • ChristineWarner

      December 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      So glad you came by Ella 🙂

    • Kaden

      August 11, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      Alo-azaamkinformatian found, problem solved, thanks!

  3. Karyn Good

    December 5, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Sky of Red Poppies sounds like a lovely book and a great pick for our book club!

    • Zohreh K. Ghahremani

      December 5, 2012 at 11:34 am

      Thank you! If you happen to be within a 30 miles radius from San Diego, I would love to join your discussion at your book club.

    • ChristineWarner

      December 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      That sounds fun Karyn! So glad you came by and hopefully your club will get a chance to read Zoe’s book 🙂

  4. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

    December 5, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Hello Zoe, I loved that you wrote, “a fresh voice” as one of your words. And, the part about Descartes. Sounds like something I’d like to read.

    Thanks for bringing this lovely woman to your site, Christine.

    • Zohreh K. Ghahremani

      December 5, 2012 at 11:31 am

      Thank you, dear Neecy. I wish you much success and know it will come soon. Just don’t give up!
      Happy Holidays,


    • Zohreh K. Ghahremani

      December 5, 2012 at 11:37 am

      Dear Paulette: This is why I love the Internet, meeting new friends and connecting through matters of mind! Thank you for your kind words. Yes, you sound like someone who’d enjoy my Poppies and I’ll be happy to reconnect and answer your questions after you’ve read it.

    • ChristineWarner

      December 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      So glad you came by Paulette!

  5. jerridrennen

    December 5, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Nice to meet you, Zoe! I really enjoyed reading your interview and the excerpt from your book.

    • Zohreh K. Ghahremani

      December 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm

      Thank you, dear Jerri. I owe my success to readers’ support. And it has been unbelievable 🙂
      Happy Holidays.

    • ChristineWarner

      December 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Glad you got to meet Zoe and enjoyed the interview…thanks Jerri 🙂

  6. Sharon Cullen

    December 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    All of your stories sound very, very interesting and your excerpt sucked me in with your exceptional writing.

    • Zohreh K. Ghahremani

      December 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      I am thrilled to hear this. Please stay in touch when/if you should read it! Happy Holidays.

    • ChristineWarner

      December 5, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      I agree..Zoe’s excerpt was perfect. Glad you dropped by Sharon 🙂

  7. lisarayns

    December 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Welcome. Wonderful interview and your book looks great! Oh gosh, I love the snow on this site.

    • ChristineWarner

      December 5, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      So glad you droppby in Lisa….and I like the snow too…as long as I don’t have to drive in it! lol

    • Zohreh K. Ghahremani

      December 5, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      Thanks, Lisa. The book cover is one of my paintings. So glad you like it. As for snow, I love the ones on this site, but had thirty years of it in Chicago. Miss it? I don’t think so!

  8. Scrimshaw Doll

    December 5, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Cool interview, ladies. Your book sounds fascinating. Best of luck with it.

  9. Zohreh K. Ghahremani

    December 5, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Thanks. It has indeed been a lucky book as readers continue to support it. Thanks for visiting.

  10. D'Ann Lindun

    December 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Great interview! Super good luck with the book!

    • Zohreh K. Ghahremani

      December 5, 2012 at 9:59 pm

      Thank you, and happy holiday to you! Thanks for visiting.

    • ChristineWarner

      December 5, 2012 at 11:17 pm

      Hi D’Ann…thanks so much for coming by…glad you enjoyed meeting Zoe!

  11. Calisa Rhose

    December 6, 2012 at 9:59 am

    So nice to meet you Zoe. What an intriguing book. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 Happy Holidays!

    • Zohreh K. Ghahremani

      December 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm

      Thanks for your support. A writer only meets success through readers. Thank you for visiting and your show of support.

  12. Calisa Rhose

    December 6, 2012 at 10:05 am

    It says I already posted ‘this’ so I have to alter my comment to make it really post now. If it doubles, please feel free to delete me.

    So nice to meet you Zoe. What an intriguing book. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 Happy Holidays!

  13. Melissa Limoges

    December 6, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Fantastic excerpt. And I love the cover, Zoe. Wishing you lots of success with your release. 🙂


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