Sara Azizi is a writer and storyteller. The aim of her work is to bring the beauty of foreign lands and especially Persian culture to a wider Western audience. A native of Iran, she has lived and studied in Potsdam, New York, and Toronto, Canada. The Knight, the Princess & the Magic Rock is her first book to be published in the US.
Sara Azizi would like to share some of her thoughts and experiences on her development as a writer of children’s books with you:
The author as a girl
“I was born in Iran and that is where I spent my childhood. The world of fairytales has always fascinated me and I have been telling stories since I was quite young. When I was a child, my father used to read beautiful books from all over the world to me and my sister. The stories resonated within us and we always made connections with the heroes and heroines, whatever the cultural setting of the tales. It was much later that I realized that fairytales had a wisdom to teach, a wisdom that is common to people everywhere because it concerns the nature of all human beings.
“After I grew up and got married, my husband and I moved to Toronto, Canada. At the University of Toronto I studied languages, including German and Latin. I was overjoyed to be able to read parts of Virgil’s Aeneid
in the original language. In spite of the difficulty of learning to understand the language, I felt at home in this beautiful epic. In a way, stories bridge cultures; the same truths are repeated in different settings.
“As a child, I used to come up with stories. Together with my sister and cousin I would take on different roles and act out these stories. However, it was not until I was 26 that I actually began to write my own first stories.
Sara Azizi (on right) with her sister
After we moved to Potsdam, NY, in 2002, I came to know the Hindu community of the town; they had cultural classes so that the children could become familiar with their ancestral tradition. I too used to attend these wonderful classes. Just before Diwali, a Hindu festival signifying the victory of good over evil, I was asked if I could write a simplified version of the Ramayana
, a beautiful Hindu epic which I knew very well from my childhood. The organizers wanted the children to take part in the plot of the story and read it aloud at the festival. So I wrote a version of the story for the children, and when at the festival the children each took their part in the play and read the story for the audience, I was delighted.
“I enjoy writing children’s stories very much and I particularly like to tell stories to children! This way I can see their reactions and responses face to face. I am also fond of reading out loud to children especially beautiful books from various cultures. While doing that, we look at the pictures and we like to say a few basic words from the language of the people. I like the way children follow the stories, the way they repeat their favorite parts endlessly. They never tire of listening to the same story.
“When I write, I always try to have this in mind: every culture clothes the truth with its own beauties. I like to dwell in the fairytale lands and to invite others to dwell there, too. Strangely enough, this can be even more real than most of our everyday experiences!”
A Fascinating Fact about Sara:
From what Sara wrote above, you may not be surprised to learn that her favorite movie is the Mahabharat, which was actually an Indian television series based on the ancient Indian epic story known as the Mahabharata. It tells the story of a family feud between the noble Pandava princes and their scheming cousins, the Kaurava kings. The story is thousands of years old and the origins probably fall between the 8th and 9th centuries BCE. The series is subtitled in English and has 94 episodes totaling more than 70 hours! It was shown in the United Kingdom by the BBC, where it was watched by more than 5 million viewers.