Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Interview with mystery novelist Teymour Shahabi

My special guest today is Teymour Shahabi. He’s chatting with me about his new young adult mystery novel, The Secret Billionaire.

During his virtual book tour, Teymour will be awarding a print copy of The Secret Billionaire with a personal message (international giveaway) to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the link below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too.

Teymour Shahabi was born in Paris of Persian parents in 1985. He moved to the United States to study Comparative Literature and Mathematics at Harvard University. He lives in New York City where he’s spent the last few years among serious professionals, many of whom probably prefer to read nonfiction. The Secret Billionaire is his first published book.

You can watch him try to figure out writing and life on his Facebook page.

Welcome, Teymour. Please share a little bit about your debut release.
The Secret Billionaire is a young adult mystery novel. It tells the story of an enormous fortune that a tycoon left in his will for “his dear friend Lucian Baker.” Only there is no trace of anyone by that name. Decades later, three high school students set out to solve the mystery.

Excerpt from The Secret Billionaire:
The Metropolitan Times
June 24, 196…

At nine o’clock yesterday morning, following ninety days of fruitless searching, billionaire industrialist and businessman Lyndon Surway was officially pronounced dead. Mr. Surway was last seen by members of his staff departing from the main airplane hangar of his estate a few minutes past eight in the morning, flying alone aboard one of his aircraft. His last recorded words to the command center crew of his hangar were: “Clear skies and mild winds. Perfect visibility, or as perfect as I could hope, for as long as I can tell. Gentlemen, I wish you a thorough enjoyment of this fine day.” Nothing unusual was noted in his language or behavior.

The late Mr. Surway often took his plane out with no stated destination. But this time, he failed to return at the customary hour of six in the evening. As no word had been received from him, the kitchens were advised that he would likely dine outside. At ten o’clock on the following morning, when there was still no news of Mr. Surway or his aircraft, the Steward of the House alerted the municipal, state, and federal authorities, and a search began for the missing magnate. But no airport, hotel, hospital or inn within fuel’s range of the estate could provide any information. Dozens of interviews bore no result. Countless journalists and detectives rushed in from every corner of the country, but none of them could unearth a single clue regarding Mr. Surway’s whereabouts. Not even the Steward could guess where Mr. Surway had gone. On the morning of his disappearance, Mr. Surway had only told him: “My day is free and so am I.”

Fifteen infantry troops were dispatched, with over a hundred hound dogs, across more than two hundred miles of hills and valleys surrounding the town of Spring Forge, where Mr. Surway lived. The infantry and the dogs found nothing. The Air Force then loaned eighteen jet-powered aircraft to continue the search. The Navy joined the effort with five ships, sixteen helicopters, and four submarines to scour the coastal regions, islands, and ocean floor within flying range of the Eastern Seaboard. Again nothing was found. Finally then, a large-scale search was conducted through the grounds and the buildings of Surway House itself, led by seven hundred volunteers from Spring Forge and other towns throughout the valley. Still they found nothing. Yesterday marked three months since Mr. Surway’s disappearance. The aircraft was legally declared lost, and its owner deceased. Mr. Surway, estimated for each of the past twelve years to be the wealthiest man in the Western Hemisphere, leaves behind no known relatives.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Thanks to incredibly supportive readers, I’m working on... the sequel!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t see writing in my future. Logically, there must have been such a time—perhaps contemporaneous with potty training.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work full-time in a field that has nothing to do with writing, and I’m incredibly lucky to love my job. I’m even more fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who support and even celebrate my writing. And by challenging me and teaching me in ways that are seemingly completely unrelated to fiction, they constantly help me grow as a person – and therefore as a writer. This said, finding the time to write requires a fair amount of discipline. To make progress, I must stick to a strict schedule taking up nights, weekends, and much of my vacation time, with no exceptions allowed (otherwise, what’s NOT an exception?). But it’s all self-imposed, and I get along shockingly well with my writing boss.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Writing, to me, requires both clarity of mind and physical energy. A quick way to achieve both is to listen to loud, inspiring music before setting down to work. Another one, more recently, has been to practice the bo staff. I have no roommates and no mirror in the living room—so who’s to say I don’t look heroic?!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
In all seriousness, pharaoh. Then, a few years later, orchestra conductor. More recently I’ve gone back-and-forth between the two.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
One of the characters in the book is obsessed with a specific (grievously underrated) type of food. So am I. It’s a love affair.

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Thank you for being a guest on my blog, Teymour!

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Teymour Shahabi said...

Thank you Lisa! It's a pleasure to join you :)

Anonymous said...

I like the excerpt!