Sara Farizan was born on August 2, 1984 in Massachusetts. Her parents immigrated from Iran in the seventies, her father a surgeon and her mother a homemaker. Sara grew up feeling different in her private high school not only because of her ethnicity but also because of her liking girls romantically, her lack of excitement in science and math, and her love of writing plays and short stories. So she came out of the closet in college, realized math and science weren’t so bad (but not for her), and decided she wanted to be a writer. She is an MFA graduate of Lesley University and holds a BA in film and media studies from American University. Sara has been a Hollywood intern, a waitress, a comic book/record store employee, an art magazine blogger, a marketing temp, and an after-school teacher, but above all else she has always been a writer. Sara lives near Boston, has a cool sister, loves Kurosawa films, eighties R&B, and graphic novels, and thinks all kids are awesome.
1. Favorite books/authors who inspired you?
My mentor Chris Lynch is my Obi Wan Kenobi and he taught me a great deal, though I don't think I am anywhere near being a Jedi master as of yet. I always loved J. D. Salinger as a teenager. Marjane Satrapi, John Irving, Richard Russo, Adam Langer, David Sedaris, Gish Jen, Walter Mosley, and Firoozeh Dumas are all kinds of awesome. And I would one day like to write a book as wonderful as The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
2. What’s your writing routine?
I write whenever I can, wherever I can. I like to be alone whether in my room, a bagel shop, or library and listen to music. The music depends on what kind of scene I am writing. Fiona Apple has gotten me through many scenes over the years.
3. What part of your book was the most fun to write?
The dialogue exchanges between Sahar and Nasrin, Sahar and Ali, and Sahar and Mrs. Mehdi. Those characters didn’t really hold back any verbal punches with one another.
4. Which part was the most difficult?
Everything! I wanted to make sure that I depicted the setting well so that the audience could understand the world my characters were inhabiting, and show a spectrum of identities that seemed authentic. There aren’t very many YA novels with trans characters or Middle Eastern characters and so I wanted to do all of the characters justice and show that everything isn’t so black and white.
5. Is there one particular character in your new book who you relate to the most? Why?
I think all of the characters are much braver than I am. But I understand Sahar in her wanting to be with someone she just can’t be with. I think that’s a universal feeling for all young adults.
6. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Write about things that are important to you, even if you don’t think anyone would want to read about it. Read a lot. Set deadlines for yourself and have someone hold you accountable. And live your life. I think the best scenes and stories come from being social and being in situations you never expected to be in.
7. Cats or dogs?
I’m allergic. I wish both cats and dogs well, but I am not a pet person. I know that makes me seem like Lord Voldemort and very un-American, but there you have it.
8. If writing weren’t part of your daily work, what career would you like to have?
I would love to work for Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop in any capacity. If Big Bird needs a personal assistant, for example, I would be all about it.
9. Which author would you most like to spend the day with?
I would be too nervous to spend a day with an author! I would just keep worrying that he or she thought I was a hack. But if she were alive, Dorothy Parker.
10. What is your secret superpower?
I am an incredible lip-syncher.