|Timeless by Alexandra Monir
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (January 11, 2011)
Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves - a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.
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Los Angeles, CA - Talent runs deep in 25-year-old Iranian-American Alexandra Monir’s family. Given that her grandmother is the late Persian folk and opera singer Monir Vakili, it is perhaps not surprising that she has already released her first, much lauded novel Timeless.
But when one realizes she also wrote and recorded multiple songs to compliment the novel, and that she’s already penning her second book (as requested by Random House), it’s hard not to be impressed.
PAAIA talked to the novelist and songwriter about what it’s like to have new fans, the process of writing Timeless, and how her family and heritage inform her work.
Monir shares snapshots of her success with the wonder that one would expect from a first-time novelist. She talks openly of seeking out her book in bookstores, and was so excited to see it displayed among a collection of Harry Potter novels that she had to immediately tweet a photo. In addition to strong promotional support at Barnes and Nobel stores, Timeless was also selected as one of Amazon.com’s Best Books of the Month - before it was even released.
The novel is a young adult book that details the story of a “time-crossed romance between young characters that have yet to grow jaded,” which Monir says allowed her to write a “true love story that spans centuries.”
Given that the novel spans such a sweeping timeline, research was of great importance to her writing process. She describes her studies as a “kind of living, breathing, eating exercise” that consisted of trips to the library for primary source documents and watching period movies that had her “living in an Edith Wharton type of world.”
Part of Monir’s success may well be attributed to her innovative use of technology. While she says her publisher hasn’t yet started doing enhanced e-books, she wants to “move music and storytelling forward through technology,” adding “it’s not enough to rely on radio and live performances, especially if you’re not a newsmaking artist like Lady Gaga.”
The young author says that her grandmother inspired a storyline in her novel in which her protagonist goes back in time to meet her family. She grew up entrenched in the world of Iranian music and art, though she never met her grandmother, who many call the “First Lady of Iranian Opera”. “I never met my grandmother because she died in a car accident before I was born, and because of her career and the way my parents talk about her, I always wish I could have.”
Timeless took Monir a year and a half to write, though she says research took as much as sixty percent of that time. The deadline for the sequel is tighter, and Monir says that, all told, she’ll have about six months to finish it.
Another advantage that technology has given the author: Fan interaction. By connecting with readers on Twitter, she’s been able to find the inspiration to continue working. She excitedly shares such connections, telling us the story of a reader who said that readingTimeless inspired her to enter her school’s writing competition, where she found success all the way up to the state level.
“That’s what it’s about,” says Monir. “With writing, you can touch people’s lives. If someone picks up my book and it makes him or her write and read then that’s all I could hope for.”
Kia Makarechi is a New York-based writer and news editor for the Huffington Post.
Alexandra Monir's Biography:
At the age of 25, author and recording artist Alexandra Monir is releasing both her debut novel, Timeless (Random House; January, 11 2011) and album written and recorded as a companion to the book.
Timeless is a sweeping young adult fantasy novel that spans three fascinating eras in New York history. The novel combines a time-traveling romance, multi-generational family mystery, adventures through New York City's past, and original music. The result is a thrilling, three-dimensional page-turner for its readers.
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Alexandra fell in love with writing, acting, and singing. She trained rigorously with professional theater companies, spending her childhood and teen years performing musical theater. Meanwhile at age eight, she began writing a series of short stories centered on the fictional adventures of she and her best friend, which led to the dream of one day becoming a published author.
Alexandra has been performing her own music since the age of fourteen, and moved to LA at seventeen to pursue a full-time career as both a recording artist and a professional writer. She spent her teen years developing her voice and songwriting skills with prolific music producers behind such superstars as Aretha Franklin and Mariah Carey, and spent a few summers as the opening act for Jive and J Records pop stars before being signed by one of the world's leading music managers, HK Management. Determined to create a signature sound for her music, Alexandra teamed up with the songwriting/production team that helped launch Christina Aguilera to success, Heather Holley & Rob Hoffman. Alexandra's style combines the smoky sounds of old-school jazz and big band - with contemporary hip-hop beats and pop hooks.
While writing spec scripts and pitching projects for film/TV in Los Angeles, Alexandra came up with the idea forTimeless. She spent over a year researching and writing the book in New York City, and continues to divide her time between LA and New York, where she is writing the sequel.
Whether in books or music, theater or film, Alexandra was born to be a storyteller!
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