Author Interview #1: Mir-Yasher Seyedbagheri
Updated: Feb 18
In beginning a new series of author interviews, I have chosen to highlight Mir-Yasher Seyedbagheri as the first of their kind. As the first author accepted into City. River. Tree., that feels fitting. Snug, even. Like a really nice sweater.
Yep. Fits nice.
In addition to City. River. Tree., Mir-Yash Seyedbagheri has had work published in Unstamatic, Door Is A Jar Magazine, Maudlin House, and Ariel Chart.
What does it feel like to be rejected on a literary level?
Rejection hurts. No beating around the bush. The solution is to keep submitting and setting goals for publication. If I get rejected at one journal, for example, I might send out to six others. It keeps me busy and helps boost self-esteem. I’d also say rejection is subjective. Keep that in mind and really try to respect the editors who take the time to respond. Rejecting pieces isn’t fun and it’s not like editors are laughing maniacally and smoking in dark rooms.
What age range do you normally gravitate towards for your POV characters?
In terms of age range, I tend to write from teenagers’ points-of-view. I personally love the idea of coming of age stories. It’s a time when people are particularly vulnerable and on the precipice of adulthood. A classmate once advised me to “throw rocks” at my characters for emotional effect and doing so with adolescents makes for dark, but emotionally resonant material. It often manifests itself in parental abandonment and familial dissolution.
Tell me about your first finished piece of fiction.
The first piece I ever wrote was a flash-length piece called “Mr. Lump’s Pump.” It was the tale of a gentleman whose irrigation pump burst. He, for whatever reason, ended up jumping in a lake. Five or six-year old logic at its finest! I had yet to learn the rules of punctuation and the elements of a fleshed-out story.
What is the most difficult part about writing?
The most difficult part of writing for me is waiting for responses from literary journals. It’s excruciating. Thankfully, submitting keeps me busy. By submitting consistently, I’m also getting responses with frequency. Writer’s block is also difficult, but I’ve made my peace with that. You can’t force an idea. You just have to take your mind off it and seek inspiration by not overthinking. I often do a good deal of reading when I can’t write.
What's your writing quirk?
I have a fondness for dysfunctional families. Unhappy families are unhappy in their own way, to quote Tolstoy. It’s fun to figure out ways to highlight that dysfunction. I’ve written stories where teenagers seek understanding in movies and drunk parents seek solace in Yogi Bear and dress up like June Cleaver.
What was that about Yogi Bear?
What's your preferred genre?
I prefer to write literary fiction, namely flash. It’s fascinating to write very short stories, and to contemplate what transpires off the page, beyond this slice of life.
What was the inspiration behind "Screen Mother"?
I was focusing on the notions of technology and how we can become alienated from each other. In particular, I focused on how our electronically infested lives have become rife with artifice. In my story, the protagonist pines for his actress mother, whom he can only see through a TV screen. She plays a loving mother to another actor, even as she neglects her own child. The title represents the fact that the narrator knows his mother only through a TV screen. It also alludes to her playing a mother in a TV show.
If we could turn your story into a very short film, who would star in it?
Were my story to be turned into a film, I could envision Emma Thompson playing the mother. She has the kind of emotional gravitas that I find fascinating. It’s very much commensurate with the emotionally detached mother in my piece. I’m not certain who could portray my narrator. Perhaps Christopher Mintz-Plasse, aka McLovin, from Superbad. I like the way he’s played awkward adolescents, in Superbad and in Role Models.
What's a favorite quote you'd like to share? Impart some words of wisdom, if you will.
“Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.” It’s from Tchaikovsky. We have to look for inspiration and take the initiative. Tchaikovsky himself used to carry a notebook around and jot down ideas for compositions while walking through the Russian countryside. I seek inspiration from evening walks myself.
Did you go to school for writing or participate in writing workshops?
I graduated from Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction in 2018. I was also a part of a writer’s group in my hometown of Boise, Idaho. It helped me further my craft, thanks to thoughtful and comprehensive critiques and a warm and often humorous environment. We also used to dissect published pieces and try to write “model stories,” incorporating various authors’ craft moves.
Mir-Yasher Seyedbagheri can be followed on Twitter.