It’s time to meet an intriguing author, Negeen Papehn, who writes contemporary romance featuring Iranian main characters. We’ll start with her official bio, and then dive right into the interview so you can learn more about her books…
Negeen Papehn was born and raised in southern California, where she currently lives with her husband and two boys. She wasn’t always a writer. A graduate of USC dental school, Negeen spends half of her week with patients and the other half in front of her laptop. In the little time she finds in between, she loves to hang out with her boys, go wine tasting with her friends, throw parties, and relax with her family.
Betty: How many books have you written and published?
Negeen: I have written 4 full manuscripts and am currently working on the 5th. I currently have three of them published with City Owl Press. My Forbidden Love series.
Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Negeen: I write Contemporary Romance because I’m a “feels” junky. I love to take my readers on a roller coaster ride of emotions, where I make them fall in love and break their hearts, all at the same time. Some have said it’s exhausting to deal with all the feelings that are required when reading my books. I don’t take that as an insult, since it’s exactly what I’m going for. So if a reader picks up my stories, they should be ready to swoon, cry, have their hearts beat uncontrollably in their ribcage, and then have it ripped out of their chest and stomped on. But I promise, in the end, it’ll be worth it.
Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?
Negeen: My latest release involves the May-December romance trope. There’s a fifteen-year age gap between my MC and her love interest. This is the third book in my Forbidden Love series; each of the stories incorporate an obstacle that makes their romance “forbidden.”
All three of my MCs are also Iranian women, so the culture and the expectations of their families play a huge role in the stories. With this one, I wanted to find a theme that wouldn’t necessarily be an issue with the older population, like those in the other two books, but an issue with the younger generation of characters. I wanted to focus on a different perspective in this last one.
When love blossoms from the unexpected will the years between separate them forever?
On the outside, Bita appears to have it all under control. She’s a no-nonsense, strong-willed, force to be reckoned with. On the inside, though, she’s spent most of her life dealing with her pushy Iranian mother, ever concerned father, and overbearing younger brother.
But that’s all about to change.
Bita is determined to stand on her own two feet. She’s purchasing her first home, and ultimately, her independence. When Bita meets Ramtin, the sexy, older real estate agent, she gets more than she ever imagined. What was meant to be a simple property transaction, blooms into a fierce desire that leaves her breathless.
Now they must make their relationship work despite their fifteen-year age gap, and interference from their traditional families. Ramtin is everything she never knew she wanted, that is, until something unexpected becomes an all-or-nothing deal-breaker, and Ramtin may not be all in. Bita must decide what’s worth fighting for and if Ramtin is worth the final risk…losing her heart.
Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?
Negeen: I usually write at home. More specifically, at my dining room table. I rarely have any designated writing time that is devoid of interruptions so it’s just become easier for me to station myself somewhere central. It allows me to deal with the multitude of needs, questions, and requests, my family continues to require of me while I’m authoring.
Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?
Negeen: I don’t have any rituals that are a necessity for me to be able to write, but ideally, I’m in a pair of sweats or pajamas. The more comfortable I am, the more creative I become. I have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, depending on the time of day, beside me. And there’s always music playing in my headphones, to drown out the noise going on around me.
If I could choose my most prolific time to write, it would be around 1pm. But sadly, once I start gaining momentum, it’s time to pick up my kids, or if I’m at work, the end of my lunch break.
Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?
Negeen: I’ve been called the “feels queen” by my critique partners because I LOVE to get into the nitty gritty of my characters’ emotions. I love them to be raw and real, make mistakes and bad choices. I strive to create characters that are authentic and humanly flawed. I’d say this is my biggest strength as a writer.
Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?
Negeen: Characters come first. Something will trigger their image in my mind then as more characters are formed, the situation begins to unfold.
Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?
Negeen: I honestly wish I had a structured writing time. I’d be much more prolific that way. But sadly, my real life doesn’t allow for that. I’m a mom of two boys, ten and twelve, who have an abundance of extracurricular activities, as well as, are more dependent on me than they should be. There’s always a mound of responsibilities that come with the house and life in general. I’m also a dentist half the week. Time is not something I find enough of, so I’ve trained myself to write in the in betweens. Which means, if I have five minutes, then I use them to write. I write in the hour I have before picking up the boys, in between helping with homework, while I wait for patients to go numb, on my lunchbreaks, and late at night if I can keep my eyes open. I’ve gotten really good at stopping mid-thought and picking right back up, whether it’s a few minutes, hours, or even days later.
Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?
Imposter syndrome. It’s a real thing, and I think all writers can identify. When I first dive into a story, I’m almost lost in the pieces, trying to stitch them together in a way that makes sense. I find myself asking “what’s the point,” and “will anyone even care,” about my storyline, my characters, their struggles. I love to create love stories, but I always feel like there has to be more. Some other factor that runs alongside the couples’ evolution, adding another layer to their struggles. So I’m always wondering if I’m getting it right and if my stories will resonate with readers, or if I’m just some lucky woman who published some books on a fluke and soon the world will see that I’m just a sham. I battle my own insecurities all of the time. And sometimes, it hinders my ability to write.
Betty: What are you reading right now?
Negeen: The beauty about being an author is that I get a first-hand peek at work that has yet to hit the stands. I’m currently reading the first book in the series, A Court of Gods and Witches, by Melissa Sercia, a fellow City Owl Press author. It’s urban fantasy and I’m totally digging it.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
Negeen: I love Paranormal Romance as well as Urban Fantasy. But I read a wide variety of genres, to be honest. I don’t know if I have an actual favorite but I do prefer that there are heavy romantic elements in whatever story I’m reading.
Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?
Negeen: When I’m writing, I read in my genre. I feel like it helps me get more into the romantic mindset I need to fully develop my own stories. But once I’m done, I usually take at least a month hiatus from writing, and during those times, I read something completely different.
Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?
Negeen: I wish I wrote full time! But most of us do and very few of us get to. Half the week, I’m a dentist. But writing is my happy place, so a lot of times you’ll find me in my office, on my laptop, in between patients.
Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?
Negeen: It’s hard! As a reader, I never really understood how much sweat and tears go into writing a novel. And that’s the easy part. Everything that comes afterwards is emotionally draining and hard to sustain sanity through. The ups and downs of the publishing process, the querying, getting and agent or editor, revising over and over again, doubting everything you do until all you want to do is hide in a corner and cry, are tedious at best. So much goes into the book before a reader can hold it in their hands. So if you love someone’s work, then yell it from the rooftops because we really need the encouragement. And if you hate it, that’s okay too, but be kind in the way you talk about it because that’s someone’s hopes and dreams your discussing.
Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?
Negeen: Hang in there. Keep writing. Try and not doubt yourself to the point of no return. No one can tell your story other than you. So tell it, love it, pour your heart into it, and don’t lose faith, even if it feels like the world doesn’t get it like you do.
Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?
Negeen: I’ve just started a new manuscript, one I’m hoping to shape into a series. I’m Iranian and so I love to do own voices when I create characters. All my MCs are Persian women of varying ages and stages in their lives. It’s my way of shedding some positive light on my culture. My most recent story follows Darya, a thirty-year-old ER doctor whose path crosses with a Latin superstar. He’s nothing like she expected and she’s forced to question her biases as she tries to figure out what she really wants, while pushing against the limits created by her upbringing. And then there’s a whole other emotionally charged story line happening simultaneously because, well, I can’t just leave a romance as a romance.
Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?
Negeen: I would love to dip into urban fantasy. I’m fascinated with that type of world building and I’d love to have characters with hidden identities and powers. I’d still probably gear it in the romance direction because I can’t imagine writing anything that didn’t have heavy romantic subplots.
Sounds like some really interesting stories to explore and tell, Negeen. Thanks for sharing your writing process and insights with us.
P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!
Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.