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Escaping Invisibility

Dec/25/2022 / by Melanie Fourie

Deeba Zargarpur, who developed her gusto for literature as a youngster, has released her debut YA novel

Afghan-Uzbek American author Deeba Zargarpur has released her debut YA novel, “House of Yesterday.” An editor at Salaam Reads, a children’s imprint at Simon & Schuster, Zargarpur pens her novels after hours. She attributes her love of books to her folks, whose scary stories kept her awake at night. In an interview with SEEMA, she discussed her childhood, inspiration, work, and forthcoming literary endeavors.

What was it like growing up as an Afghan-Uzbek American?

It was beautiful. My family is lucky to have immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan in the 80s. When I think of my childhood, I think of boom boxes playing [Afghan singer] Ahmad Zahir, long summer days spent exploring with my cousins, and big family gatherings filled with food and chai. I think of my grandparents and great-grandparents and the beautiful music of their Farsi.

What first inspired you to become an author?

I always loved writing. From a young age, I was making up stories, even before I learned to write. It wasn’t until I was in college that I started writing fiction. I wrote in between classes, but I never thought it would amount to anything in the future. Writing was always treated as a hobby in my family. It was something you did for fun, not as a career.

Could you discuss the gist of and the inspiration behind “House of Yesterday”?

My debut YA novel, “House of Yesterday,” is a gothic family drama that follows a mother-daughter duo as they renovate an empty home, only nothing about the house is abandoned. There is something that is lingering in the shadows, hinting at a darker family history that is ready to break free. It’s an examination into the grief that lingers through generations of immigrant families, and what it means to confront the ghosts of your past.

There was so much that inspired my work, but the driving force behind all my stories was writing characters that looked like me. I never saw myself in a book, and that feeling of being invisible really hurt me as a child and young adult. It’s important for all children to see themselves reflected positively in literature, and I’m so lucky that I get to provide a mirror for young readers!

Do you have a specific writing method that you subscribe to?

My writing process is very chaotic. I wish I was more disciplined or had a more organized method to my writing, but I am a person that writes when inspiration strikes. I always have a notebook handy to write down ideas and scenes when they come. If I don’t, they’ll be lost!

How do spend your free time?

When I have free time, I try to do activities that refill my creative well. That can be traveling to new places or trying new experiences, like rock climbing, mountain hiking, or learning a new language. I think part of being a good writer is always being curious about the world and the people in it.

Tell us a bit about your support system.

My mom is a big supporter of my work. She encourages me and pushes me to produce my best work. She has read every draft of every book and has given me a lot of input. It’s been really nice to have my family’s encouragement to chase my dreams.

Also, it’s been so important to have a solid writing community to lean on. Publishing is a very hard industry, filled with rejection. If I didn’t have my writing friends to cheer me on, I probably wouldn’t have continued writing.

What’s a typical day like in the life of Deeba Zargarpur?

A typical day is very busy. I like to wake up and spend a quiet hour by myself in the morning with my coffee. Then, I turn on my computer and work my day job. There are lots of meetings, emails, editing my author’s books, and participating in auctions. Each day is different, which is something I love.

At night, I switch gears and focus on my own writing. Sometimes it’s doing research; other times it’s drafting or revising. It’s really a nonstop work day during the week! If there’s time, I like to unwind with a cozy show with dinner or a video game!

Do you have any advice for aspiring female authors?

Write what brings you joy. You will spend a lot of time by yourself, with your thoughts. If what you’re writing isn’t bringing you happiness, the act of writing will only take away from you. So write about what keeps you inspired and what feels true and honest to you.

Do not be afraid to dig deep, and do not be afraid of what other people might think because you cannot please everyone. There is someone out there who is going to need your story, and that is the person that matters.

What’s the way forward regarding your literary journey?

The plan is to keep writing for as long as I can. I’m currently working on “Farrah Noorzad” and the “Ring of Fate” series and plan to keep writing in that world for the next few years. This series is my happy place, but perhaps in the future I’d like to write an adult fantasy series as well!

For inquiries regarding Zargarpur’s work, you contact her here.