Friday, June 28, 2013

An interview with Lori Foroozandeh

Today, I’m interviewing Lori Foroozandeh here on the blog. She has an absolutely amazing story which she has turned into the book, “Lori’s Song.” I’m looking forward to getting a copy and reading it.

How did you get through writing this book? There’s some real drama going on here as I’m looking at the description, it sounds very poignant.
It was very difficult.  When I returned from Iran, I totally went out of control doing drugs, and drinking, I had no self-control.  I think in the back of my head I wanted to die, which I almost did a couple times.
But  around the end of 2003, people kept telling me to write a book it would be a good catharsis!  I started writing and my mind took off.  I remembered everything like I was reliving it.  I just sat down and wrote never had to think about anything.  In about 6 months I had it done, but I couldn’t re-read it.  So I had my husband do it.  I also got a literary agent who had done a lot of work on it, but in defense of her I added to the book after she and I were finished with our agreement, so the bad grammar was my fault.  To this day I haven’t read the complete book from front to back.  I’ve went over certain chapters, especially with my therapist.  But I didn’t publish it right away, I got divorced and in 2006 he started urging me to finish it up and publish it.  He offered to pay the self-publishing fee, so in 2009 it was released.  

There was of course a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment here in the US as a result of Sept 11th. How did you deal with it?
I understood it all too well.  I can’t say that I hated the Muslims or people from the Middle East, and to be honest to this day I don’t HATE THEM.  I know it was just the FANATIC Muslims who did this and not your typical Qur’an abiding Muslim.  If you truly read the Qur’an you will see it only promotes basically what the Bible does, nowhere in the Qur’an does it say to kill people from America, or that America is the BIG SATAN.  While I am NOT Muslim, I’d like to say something in their defense, they even believe in JESUS, The bible says that Prophet Jesus was crucified to bear God's wrath for the sins of the believers and accordingly he was cursed. On the contrary, Muslims believe, according to the Quran, that he was neither crucified nor cursed but was held and will be held in honor in this life and in the Hereafter.

What do you want someone to take away from the book?
•           To know that no matter how BAD or UNBEARABLE your life may seem, there is always hope, there is always your will to survive so please use it.
•           Check out the laws and customs of the country you want to visit.  Even Canada or Mexico, you need to know your rights before you leave this country.  When I got to Iran, the first thing they did at the airport was take my passport.  They told me I needed my husband’s written permission to leave the country and that my American citizenship was not honored in their country I was now Iranian because I married an Iranian and we live in Iran.  And I had no recourse because there is no American Embassy in Iran
•           Help one another, we only live once and we need to learn to give rather than take.  I appreciate my life and FREEDOM more than I ever have in my life.  The older I get the more I appreciate everyday I’m alive.

Does the cover of your book relate to a specific incident?
That is what the camp looked like it had that type of barbed wire around it.  The moon was so prominent, that was the only light in the camp, they had these huge lights that lit up like spotlights when they wanted to check the prisoners at night.  It’s funny people think I sat around and pondered things and prayed a lot, to be honest I was too scared all the time to think of anything but living from minute to minute.

So many will focus on the negatives, I don’t wish to do that. What were your favorite things about Iran, while you were living there?
The friendliness of strangers, I remember being lost once when I first started teaching English at this institute, and I had gotten a taxi to a certain street then I didn’t know where to go, all of a sudden I had 10 people wanting to pay for a cab for me to get me there.  MY GIRLS- the ones I taught English too were my SHINING LIGHTS in Iran.  I didn’t know that much Farsi and they didn’t know English so I had to teach them LITERALLY FROM THE BEGINNING, like “Hi how are you”.  I taught for four years and grew so close to those girls and their families.  They were constantly bringing me gifts and flowers for the day.  I became the TOP TEACHER for three years in a row.  These girls would stay a little after class and we would get in a circle and they would ask me questions about America.  Questions they couldn’t ask their parents or would get in trouble for asking.  They knew they could trust me.  They asked about boys and dating, and just simple things like clothes shopping.  I loved them so much.  Then one of my students LAYLA, was drowned in her father’s swimming pool for not being a virgin on her wedding night.  The mother in law stands outside the door of where the husband and wife copulate and in the morning if there is no blood they mark them as “whores” and if their father doesn’t do the respectful thing of killing her, they would have hung her.
I saw hangings in town squares that were watched by everyone and they even encouraged the children to watch.  They hung women by construction cranes, so it was a slow hanging they would just slowly lift them up, and what their idea of compassion was allowing the girls mother to accompany her up to the noose and spend five minutes with her.  It’s all disturbing and barbaric.
I loved the bazaars too, how you could barter for just about anything, clothes food.  They didn’t have grocery stores like they do here, everything is sold at separate little shops.

Is there anything else you would care to add would be great.
You need to live your life for TODAY.  Write a post it note that reminds you to let people know you love them,  and never go to bed mad.  Always kiss goodnight and always tell people you love them, this goes a long way.  We have two choices in life to LIVE it or EXIST in it.  I chose to live it, I hope you do too.  I want to leave with this writing I did on my site when I put it up on the web back in 2008, and for me it’s so true. Thanks for having me Brian.
While Terrorism is a war that starts developing within the mind,
Religion is a war that antagonizes our conscience, but
Love is always a war within the heart.....
Lori F.5/2002 Share The Peace! (WEBSITE) (BLOG) (TWITTER)!/lforoozandeh (FB) (AMAZON)
Thank you, Lori Foroozandeh

Thursday, June 27, 2013

On Nelson Mandela

These are a few of my thoughts regarding Nelson Mandela. He’s of course very ill right now. According to the news I was able to glean that he is on life support as I am writing this. He really is a great man in my mind. It isn't often that a political change like what happened in South Africa occurs without major bloodshed. He helped that country find their way into the new order of things where everyone could truly be equal regardless of their skin color, etc. Usually when something like that happens, the ones that think they are losing it all will fight back. That's simply human nature and it has occurred throughout history. It hurts everyone, including the ones that are fighting back.
One of the things I think of regarding South Africa is Apartheid. We actually had something very similar here in the US, like it or not. It’s part of our history. In fact I grew up in a very racist household, though before I moved out on my own I ditched those beliefs. Part of what caused me to do that was Nelson Mandela and what he had to say.

I also wanted to include in this post something from those that have actually lived in South Africa. Me, I’m an outsider that’s looking in. I’ve gotten fed what the news media to some extent has wanted me to hear. Luckily, for me, I just happen to know some people that live in South Africa and here are the responses.

Wanda Hartzenberg, Preatoria, South Africa
Madiba meant change. A change in definition a change in power and a change in perspective. Mostly a change in perspective. Everybody always say he is a symbol for hope. That hope was borne from change though. He changed himself and for the better. Making his life, his pov and his actions all the more relevant. He changed how we spoke, how we saw ourselves and our place in the world. He changed our language both spoken and our way of thinking. Note that this is a personal slant. I don’t speak for the collective. This is what Madiba means to me. Freedom not only in the conventional understood way but in that he opened up our minds, hearts and country and gave us the opportunity to grow and be part of things, ideas, ideologies we were never before free to be part of.

Aneesa Price, Johannesburg, Gauteng
Well here goes my thoughts:
"I remember a time when, as a Colored girl, my paler brother could go to beaches and movie houses that I couldn't. I remember living in a less than safe area because it was one that Colored were allowed to live in and I remember a school that seemed normal to me then, but if I look back now, I see it for what it is - one with many disadvantages. Mostly, I remember the riots right on my doorstep with my father and brothers protecting us in ways they shouldn't have had to and neighbors turning on each other in their momentary madness.
Then I remember the day that Nelson Mandela walked out of prison. I watched it on TV with my family and everyone was so happy, so hopeful. I remember the fantastic things he did - how cleverly he used sports to unify a nation, his patience and sensitivity, how words and deeds were things he used selflessly for the betterment of South African people.
Today, I can thank him and many others like him, the comrades and freedom fighters, for the enormous sacrifices they made so that I can love the man I do today (a white man), have the beautiful children I treasure and the many opportunities I have. Sometimes it is the big things like those that make the difference - getting to go to a good university (not a non-white one as in Apartheid times), getting to marry whom I want and provide my children with a could education. And sometimes it is the smaller things, the ones we take for granted that make the difference the most for which I am grateful for. You never know how freeing it is to be able to just stop and go into a store, see a house in any area and buy it and take your kids to the nearest hospital... you never know how liberating that is until you don't have it. Fortunately, time has made me remember enough to be grateful and to have moved and even more fortunately, my children do not have those restrictions on them in the least.
Yes, there are many other challenges South Africa is faced with today but compared to the past, it is utopia.
Thank you Madiba for your strength, courage and wisdom. The world may admire you, but we, South Africans, live our gratitude every day.

"Amandla, Viva South Africa! Viva Nelson Mandela!"

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Nature Call's

I had the opportunity to read, "Nature Calls" a while back and I thought it was really good. It's kind of a shared world anthology like those I work on for my publisher, Perseid. As a rule, there's a common theme that will run through every story. In this case, the common theme is nature. My favorite character of all would have to be the Sasquatch. I really liked him.

A little earlier I had a talk with the author, Bonnie Bernard about the book.

Brian: Where did the idea come from for this book?
Bonnie: The idea came to my husband and I one night while we were camping way, way out in the far corners of the Idaho back country. We'd been sitting out in the dark, enjoying the glow of a warm campfire...when a bear snuffled into our camp. Our fearless dog whined and hid behind me, I hollered, "Oh crap!" and my husband shuffled us inside the van. We left everything else outside. The bear pawed around our campsite for a few hours and then wandered off. Meanwhile, we plugged in my laptop and wrote the rough draft for "Transportal Potty".

Brian: How did you like writing Howie and the Sasquatch in this book?
Bonnie: Howie and Sasquatch came about because many of my reader-base has a thing for the human-hating demon and I wanted to give them a little treat. Howie thinks Yeti is acceptable, probably because he's not a human.
Brian: You've said before that there is a wildlife organization is who benefits from the books royalties. What charity is it?
Bonnie: The first 100.00 in proceeds goes to

Here is where you can find the book.