Keep Your Eye On ... Abdi Nazemian.
Tell us about your latest book or a project you are working on.
I've been working on adapting Like a Love Story into a movie. It's been a fascinating process taking a story that's so close to my heart and reimagining it in a new medium. I'm lucky to have two magical partners in the process, Marti Noxon and Jessica Rhoades, the team behind Sharp Objects. I'm also currently working in the writers' room of an upcoming Fox show, Almost Family, which is so much fun. And I very much hope to work on my next novel after that.
Tell us about your writing process.
Writing novels while also writing movies and television, and raising two young children, is a major challenge, especially when you're a writer who needs to deep dive into your characters to find their voice. So, my solution has been to check myself into hotels when I'm writing something new. I find that the creative juices are much easier to access with solitude, lots of coffee and the right playlist. Once I've found the voices,
I can write from home, typically very early in the morning before anyone is awake. I'm also a big fan of the tools provided by Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way, and recommend it to everyone, whether you're a writer or not.
How did you first get published?
I was a working screenwriter long before I had my first book published, but I still found the path to getting published very bumpy. My first published book, The Walk-In Closet, didn't sell to a major publisher and I had pretty much decided to self-publish. In a fortuitous twist of fate, my agency had just started their own imprint and put the book out. That book ended up finding its audience and winning a Lambda Literary Award for Debut Fiction, which inspired me to keep writing books and telling personal stories. I wrote my first young adult novel, The Authentics, after that, and it was published by HarperCollins, who I've been working with ever since.
What do you like about writing for young people?
So many things! Around the time my first adult novel came out, I was reading a lot of YA and was so inspired by the diversity of the genre, which is a testament to the young people demanding that diversity. The primary reason I started writing books (other than my deep love for books) is that I was frustrated by how hard it was to get diverse stories greenlit in film and television, so the diversity in YA really excited me. Also, as someone who struggled with both my cultural identity and sexuality growing up as an immigrant in multiple countries, I'm holding onto a lot of stories about my emotional experiences as a teen that I want to tell.
Tell us about writers who inspire you?
This question reminds me of another reason I like writing for young people, which is that the books I read as a teen helped me as I was finding my sense of identity. For me, there were a few queer authors I discovered in my teen years who made me see a world that I recognized I could belong to. James Baldwin and Armistead Maupin are the ones who really made me feel seen and helped me form and accept my sense of self. I'm also deeply inspired by the incredible Iranian writers in the YA genre at the moment, including, but not limited, to Sara Saedi, Alexandra Monir, Adib Khorram, Arvin Ahmadi, Sara Farizan, and Tahereh Mafi. It's incredible to see so many Iranian stories being told.