Photo Credit: Mark Karlsberg /
Studio Eleven

Sara Farizan is the daughter of Iranian immigrants, and grew up feeling different in her private high school; not only because of her ethnicity but also because of 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 in San Francisco, California, but Boston, Massachusetts, will always be home. She has a cool sister, loves Kurosawa films, eighties R&B, and graphic novels, and thinks all kids are awesome.


Author Q&A

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 Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel was the most fun to write?

I really enjoyed writing Saskia because she is just a femme fatale sociopath with this very alluring exterior. She is charming and worldly but has all the trappings of a villain. I enjoy writing unlikeable people because I think they are compelling in a great many ways. I think of Pinkie from Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock as being a completely sociopathic role model. Though Saskia is not as violent, they seem to be going through the motions of saying the right things, being numb at times, threatening. 

4. Which part was the most difficult?

I think writing the coming out scenes with Leila’s mom. It just reminds me of my own coming out (even though they were VERY different) and I didn’t want my own mother to think I was writing about her. Also, I didn't want coming out to be this huge, big thing. It was just a part of the story and not the whole enchilada.

5. Is there one particular character in your new book who you relate to the most? Why?

Leila’s a lot like me, but we differ in a great many ways too. We have a similar voice because I was twenty-three when I started writing this. She is a lot more introverted than I was. She thinks a lot more without actually saying what she is feeling. I was a total blabbermouth, loud, in a lot of clubs and school president. All of those things sound terrifying to Leila. 

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. 

Talking with Sara