By Fred Parvaneh
Alexandra Monir is the Iranian-American author of five published young adult novels, including the bestselling time-travel romance “Timeless” (a Barnes & Noble bestseller and an Amazon Best Book of the Month). It was followed by “Timekeeper,” “Suspicion” and “The Girl in the Picture.”
The lead character, Naomi Ardalan, is an Iranian-American science genius – a first for a science-fiction novel.
Kayhan Life spoke to Alexandra Monir in a video interview (above).
You have a new book coming out around the Persian New Year called ‘The Final Six’. What is the book about?
Yes! “The Final Six” comes out on March 6th, and it takes place in the near future, where Earth is largely destroyed and underwater due to global warming. With the future of the human race at stake, the United Nations and the international space agencies form a coalition to send a team of six astronauts to create a new human settlement on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. This is a mission that requires the best and brightest of the world’s youth, and the story is narrated by two of the 24 teen finalists training for this mission, who end up forming a star-crossed connection: Leo Danieli from Italy, and Naomi Ardalan, an Iranian-American from California.
An Iranian-American female scientist lead character in science fiction has not been written about before. Why do you think it is important to introduce her at this time?
It was actually the lack of a character like this in pop culture that made me want to make the heroine Iranian-American. I’ve been a huge bookworm ever since I was a little girl, and to never see myself or my family background in the many books I read or movies I watched was always disconcerting. Especially coming of age post-9/11, where there was so much prejudice against Middle Easterners, it would have absolutely rocked my world if, for example, Hermione Granger or Mary-Jane Watson or another major character shared my Iranian background. So now, it feels like I’m giving my younger self a present: a lead character of my heritage, in a story where the focus isn’t her ethnicity, but instead places her as the heroine of an epic adventure.
What type of scientific research did you do for this book? Was there a particular person who advised you?
I did tons of research, which was one of the most fun parts of the project! I was so fortunate to be able to meet Dr. Firouz Naderi of NASA-JPL, who is a friend of my parents, and he was kind enough to read the manuscript and give me notes and corrections on the science. Through Twitter, I also connected with Dr. Robert Pappalardo, Europa Mission [Europa Clipper] Scientist at NASA-JPL, and we met a couple times to discuss the project. He even gave me a tour of JPL, which was such a thrill!
One of my good friends, Dr. Teresa Segura Hock, is a climate and planetary scientist, and she not only read the manuscript and gave notes, but also answered my endless questions! I’m so grateful I was able to consult with these experts.
Are there any plans to write a screenplay based on “The Final Six”? Have you been approached by the movie studios?
Yes – the movie adaptation is in development with Sony Pictures! They’re going to be watching to see how the book does once it’s published, and if sales are good, hopefully they will take the next step and make the movie.
Any new projects around the corner you can talk about?
Next up for me is writing the sequel to “The Final Six,” currently titled “The Life Below.” I also have a couple of other projects I’m developing, which hopefully I’ll get to tell you about soon.
Alexandra Monir is also a professional recording artist and composer. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and newborn son, where she is at work on her next novel. Preorders of “The Final Six” available here.
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