KH: It had already kind of switched from Farsi to French, because I had lived in France for a handful of years before that, and I was becoming really comfortable writing my short stories in French. Then, when I came to the States, obviously it took me some time to learn English, and I really didn't write much -- at least in English. I was still writing in French, and a little in Farsi, the first few years, just for myself. At some point before I graduated high school, I began to write in English. By the time I was a junior in high school, I was in the 3A class -- I was up there with the best students. We were reading John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway, and we were reading Our Town and Upton Sinclair. It was a pretty good selection. By then, I felt at ease with English, and I had begun to find in my head a voice that spoke to me in English that I felt I could wield.
In the summers of those years, I worked as a security guard, so I would have long days of just sitting behind a desk. You really weren't supposed to read, but I would sneak in a paperback novel with me. I read a lot of genre fiction. I read mysteries and I read horror novels. And around this same time I began writing short stories in English. Suddenly I felt that there was a rhythmic cadence of English in my head, and I began to recognize a voice. That was probably around the end of high school, beginning of college.
JM: Were there any books that spoke to you with particular power at that time?