Shaming My Red Lips. It is about the life of a female Brooklyn teenager transported back to Iran at the age of 16. This story about my formative teenage years is sprinkled with the familiar angst, anger, energy, and passion that you would expect of any sixteen-year-old. It reflects not only a time when the world around me was changing, but when I was changing myself. As an Iranian-American born in Iran, raised in New York, and then forced to relocate back to Iran at the turbulent age of sixteen, in my mind, the only suitable reactions were fight or flight. I ended up doing both.
In Iran, I longed for the freedoms I had come to know and love and that some of us take for granted, like choosing my religion, choosing who I wanted to date, or even wearing red lipstick. While at first I thought I was fighting against my parents and against a country I didn’t feel I belonged a citizen of, I finally came to understand that I was fighting for something much more important: I was fighting to be myself. And that’s something every single one of us should be fighting for every single day.
So the intention of this book is not to complain. It’s not to whine. It’s not to attack a country or its peoples in an effort to get you to form an opinion one way or the other. Rather, this book intends to show the importance of remaining true to yourself and fighting for what you believe in. I share my true story and all its hardships, setbacks, intimacies, and victories because in the end, they led me to security, hope and finally self-discovery. I can only hope that the way I lay my life out in these pages might serve as a source of inspiration for someone to remember that, above all, staying true to yourself and standing up for what you believe in—no matter the consequences—is the greatest accomplishment you can hope to achieve.
Tell us something about yourself.
I am a former reporter/ anchor, and current perfume entrepreneur. I was born in Tehran and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve traveled around the world and after seeing so many inequalities especially towards females in the Middle East I decided to express my concerns and frustrations as an Iranian American immigrant with my tell all memoir. What you might find interesting is that I also teach belly dancing and if there weren’t so many limitations growing up, I would have (might have) been in the pro tennis league or in dance school- Juilliard Performing Arts was my dream at the time. Now I do both as a hobby and love it!
What inspired you to write this book?
I was very frustrated with how I was treated in Iran and noticing how others were treated. I even burn up when I watch the news today about what they are still doing and how they are treating females. It is not only about the life of a westerner in Iran but understanding that being your true authentic self EVEN in the face of an Islamic repressive environment is the greatest accomplishment one can hope to achieve. This goes for every girl or boy.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I always wrote poetry and stories that come to my mind. My notepad is always in my bag. I find writing a medium to be free and let loose.
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
Both. You have to be aware of your timeline. Once that is in place I just sit down and write.
Do you have a daily or weekly writing schedule, or do you write only when you are inspired? How many words or pages do you complete in a typical day?
I write every day, at least 30 minutes. It’s my mental workout which comes right before my meditation, yoga and 5 min ab workout daily.
How many drafts did you write before publishing your most recent book?
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
Interesting question. I have evolved as a person from the time I experienced all I did, and with the power and knowledge I have now I feel now I can/ want to make a difference. Probably at the time I would’ve done the same as I already did, learn and absorb everything.
Do you read reviews?
I welcome feedback of all kinds. It helps me grow and opens up my mind.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Just write. Do it. Go for it. When you take action energy flows. The words come to you. Why? Because whether writing a memoir, novel, you are sharing your thoughts with someone and connecting in some way or somehow with someone. You are, for 10 min or an hour, being someone’s companion or friend to hopefully enrich their lives or bring them a new perspective. Use that as fuel to keep you writing and motivated.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Individuals who want to know and understand what really goes on in these countries and in parallel in so many other countries. And of course it is about female (and male) empowerment and development. It’s about information, learning or becoming open to learn.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?