Interview with Mandana Towhidy

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Los Angeles, though in my teeny years, I lived a couple of other places. But most of my life from elementary through college was in LA. Of course it was easy to get influenced, by the scenery, by music, by going to Hollywood at a young age. A lot of people I grew up with were either in the music and/or film industries or else they were the little brother or sister or son or daughter of someone in these industries. So I always knew a lot of insider info, private shows, etc. It was also a good mix of peaceful fun bonfire parties at the beach as well as crazy drunken nights on the Strip (Sunset Strip). We didn't have internet or cell phones, so most of the entertainment came from watching MTV or going to shows to see bands or partying. When you're young, you think EVERYONE grows up like this...later in life, you realize how different it was from a lot of other people and their teen years, etc.
When did you first start writing?
The very first book I actually wrote for a contest was in second grade. The winner got to have their book in the library for a year. I didn't win and I remember being very upset about the girl who won because she had monsters in her book and at the time I thought that was kind of dumb. :) I wrote a book called THE GIRL WHO LOVED SPRING. It was written and illustrated by me. And, even though I didn't win first prize, it was still placed in the library. I still have it. I think after that I continued to make little books. I just know that I LOVED library day more than recess and I just wanted to have a book in the library.
What's the story behind your latest book?
This book ARCADIA is about a girl figuring out what's real about life, I guess. She's in a world full of facades and fakeness and over-the-top everything. She's weeding out what things are worth it and figuring out who she is in this jungle of craziness. It's an adventure about her and her friends, teens in the late 1980's...and some heavy metal that they are all into. It's a fly-on-the-wall view of what it was like back then in that long hair scene. It's a way to see how a misunderstood girl who is falling in love for the first time fits in the world and figures out who she is within it and her relationships.

It can be a fun fun silly book, a historical look at Los Angeles or a very deep and moody book. It just depends where the reader's head is at.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Well, I think I've always been an "indie author"...but what's indie anymore? I was an editor and writer for some of the best and biggest indie magazines out there. And they were WAY cooler than anything non-indie. I dunno. I'm proud to be indie because all of my very favorite people are indie. But I wouldn't mind not being indie, too.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Just being able to write. It's not something I chose. I've always been a writer. It's like eating. Breathing. Stuff like that. I also really love and appreciate the great comments I've received along the way from fans or editors about my writing. I think when it's coming from your gut and/or heart, it just works.
What do your fans mean to you?
EVERYTHING. Of course...everything. I have one "fan" who used to retype my stories up on his blog. Way back when blogging first started. And one day I wrote him and he was shocked. But we've kept in touch. I love how I can connect with people I don't even know through my writing. It's just messing with the way letters are smashed together and organizing those groups to make a vision happen. And it's the best feeling when your vision is seen and heard and read and loved. Or liked.
What are you working on next?
I have a couple of things. I am actually working on a new book. It'll be set in the now. There will be some love or lovers in it and some stuff about writing and some other things about the advertising industry and how sometimes not all of these things work together and how sometimes they can work together.

That doesn't really make too much sense right now. But it will later. I am working on getting the first draft done and onto my agent because the entire process from start to finish is quite long and tedious. And I want to write some other things, too!
What is your writing process?
My writing process is usually spending a good chunk of time staring at a page and essentially writing down doodles, word doodles. Then taking all of those doodles and organizing them into an outline I've created. Not a hefty outline, but something to help me along my path in case I stray too far off. Then it's filling in the blanks and then comes editing editing editing editing editing editing. Then my agent sells it.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I can't remember what book I read first, but I was just remembering how much all of Judy Blume's books helped me and inspired me as a young girl. I always felt like a girl in the book (like Margaret) was speaking directly to me. I was awe-struck by her books then and even now. I just thought she was amazing and I still do.
How do you approach cover design?
I'm very visual, having also been a magazine editor and art director. I usually have some kind of vision. And then I can look at the friends in my life who are artists and fit the vision to the artist whom I know will take it to the next level. I give them some freedom to interpret my vision. And then I say what I like or don't like.
I love art, so it's a big part of the covers. I have already started to daydream about the new novel's cover!
Describe your desk
My desk is usually a clutter of stuff....makeup, trinkets that I've picked up and love, my large tea cup (filled with some sort of red tea and sweetness and almond milk), a stack of books I am currently loving and/or want to read, my cell phone, some photos I love, tarot cards, nail polish, lip balm, letters I need to address, headphones (my favorite ones are Sennheiser...I own two pairs), notebooks and index cards and post-its, sharpies and pens and hair clips...but all of it will be very very organized...even if it does sound like a mess. I also have favorite inspiring quotes ALWAYS around my desk. Ever since I was in college. Those are must haves.
Published 2013-09-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Arcadia
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 51,870. Language: English. Published: September 3, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Coming of age, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Chick Lit
Populated by rockers, Deadheads, misfits, skinheads, Goths, surfers, preppies, cheerleaders, and jocks, ARCADIA by Mandana Towhidy is a Fast Times at Ridgemont High for the Metal years. And in the world of Hollywood where more is all you need, Ronnie discovers happiness in Metal and friends and learning to see through the games and the "perfect-ness" of it all. Long Hair Rocks...Again!