Today we’re happy to welcome Adib Khorram to the blog to chat about his book, Darius the Great Is Not Okay, and share a little bit about tea along the way.
Summary: Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran.
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian–half, his mom’s side–and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.
Darius has never really fit in at home in Portland, and he just knows things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Sohrab introduces Darius to all of his favorite things–mint syrup and the soccer field and a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, friends don’t have to talk. Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.
By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Adib Khorram’s brilliant debut is for anyone who’s ever felt not good enough–then met a friend who makes them feel so much better than okay.
What do you love about Darius as a character?
I really love how, despite feeling out of place and isolated, Darius doesn’t try to change who he is to fit in better. I wish I’d had his strength of character when I was a teenager!
Darius the Great is Not Okay seems to center around friendship. What is a true friendship to you?
True friendship is when someone accepts you exactly as you are, but makes you want to be better than you are.
What was the most challenging part of your journey to a published book?
Honestly, DARIUS was a such a wonderful, painless process, I feel a little guilty. But I’m making up for it now with trying to write book two!
As a tea lover myself, I really enjoyed your blog post about your visit to the Steven Smith Teamaker Tasting Room a few years ago. Are you drinking tea while you write and what are some of your favorites?
Thank you! Full disclosure, I think I took that post (and whole section of my website) down during a revamp, but I ended up writing more about that here. I am indeed always drinking tea, usually black tea in the morning, oolong or green in the afternoon, and green or white or herbal at night. Right now I’m absolutely obsessed with Long Jing. I got a great pouch of Ming Qian Long Jing from a small producer (without a website), and it’s absolute heaven. And with flu season around, I’m living off Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice to ward off any creeping cruds. While I was writing Darius in particular, I drank a lot of Smith Teamakers’ Rose City Genmaicha, and my family’s Persian tea blend.
Thanks for the idea! I just ordered some Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice. Switching gears now, what did you read as a young adult?
I read a ton of adult fantasy. For a good two or three years, I was obsessed with Magic: The Gathering tie-in novels, back when they were actually good.
Finally, what’s next with your writing?
It’s another YA Contemporary, this one about a Type-A personality who has to learn to listen to the people around him.
ADIB KHORRAM is the author of DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY. If he’s not writing (or at his day job as a graphic designer), you can probably find him trying to get his 100-yard Freestyle under a minute, learning to do a Lutz Jump, or steeping a cup of oolong. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where people don’t usually talk about themselves in the third person. You can find him on Twitter @adibkhorram, Instagram @adibkhorram, or on the web at adibkhorram.com.
Photo by Afsoneh Khorram