Interview with Author Darya Hodaei – Ramona Portelli Blog

Interview with Author Darya Hodaei

Dr. Darya Hodaei, author of the ‘Jirtdan’s Halloween’ holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Iran. She is married, lives in Florida with her husband and two kids. She loves exploring the world languages and cultures. Darya, her author friend Karlene Froling and other active local moms gather people together by having cultural events for kids and adults in their neighborhood. Growing up in Iran with Turkic ethnic background, Darya was subject to systematic ethnic and linguistic suppression. She did not have the rights to have school in her own mother language which prevented her from learning about her own ethnic culture and history as well as the official form and literature of her mother language. “I used to believe that my mother language and my culture was not something with potential of being official. I had accepted the illusion that my language is just for daily use among lay people, and not more than that.” Says Darya.

After moving to US, she went through identity issues for years until she realized that she must stand for what she was deprived from. She started EnglishAzerbaijani, a social media-based platform to raise identity awareness and promote Azerbaijani Turkic language and culture. In parallel, she decided to publish her first book with title “Azerbaijani Turkic Alphabet and Numbers” during COVID-19 pandemic which was welcome by Azerbaijani diaspora in USA. Azerbaijan’s voice of America media covered her, and the book got 5-start review ranking on Amazon’s website. Then, she published a bilingual story for kids about equality and respect named “Which animal is more useful?”. Then she published her recent book about Halloween. “Jirtdan’s Halloween” is a book mixing Azerbaijani culture and folklore with Halloween tradition. This book hit Amazon’s best new release sale and is given a 5-star reviews rating on Amazon’s website. Some American and Azerbaijani media news covered this book and appreciated Darya for the effort and passion she put in this. Currently, Darya is working on her fourth children’s book and wishes to publish it in December 2021. To give the work even more diversity, her coming book is a Pictionary about animal names in 4 languages (English, Azerbaijani, Farsi and Turkish).

Tell me more about your latest book

My latest book is a children’s book in which I tried to integrate Halloween traditions with Azerbaijani folklore and culture. It is inspired by an old Azerbaijani folklore story known to all Azerbaijani Turks whether from Iran or the republic of Azerbaijan. In the original story the main character, which is a smart little boy named Jirtdan, goes to the woods with his friends and they get lost in the forest. Then an ogre finds them and Jirtdan rescues himself and his friends by tricking the ogre. I changed this story by bringing it to the western theme. In my story, Jirtdan and his friends are traveling to Disney World, and they get lost there. They end up in the ogre’s castle where they do apple bobbing with Azerbaijan’s famous apples (Guba apples).

I think it is crucial that kids read intercultural stories in which authors cover traditions and culture from all parts of the world. It gives the immigrant kids the sense of acceptance in the new society and it is a nice introduction for other kids to know about the cultural diversity in our world. Racism is something we can fight since the moment the kids are born by exposing them to a diverse environment so it can help them realize that there is no culture and language above other.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

I would say the most challenging part was to find references for each of the traditions and fact checking the whole thing.

What is your normal procedure to get your books published?

I have an online cultural and linguistic platform in which we help people getting familiar with multiculturalism and ethnic diversity specially in Iran by promoting Azerbaijani Turkic language and culture. I usually develop the main idea and the story, search for the resources to gain more information about it then find an illustrator and provide guidance on what the pictures should look like, then with the help of an editor ty to shape and conclude the final project. We are a team gathered in EnglishAzerbaijani LLC and we self-publish but that does not stop us from looking for other ways of publishing!

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

Definitely! Authoring a book for me is like creating a new life. I have put a lot of passion in each of my books. Each of them delivers an important message from the bottom of my heart. I found book publishing a way to convert my pain into beauty and release it in this world.

How many books have you written so far? List and name them all here

I have written 4 but published 3. I want to publish the fourth one very soon after some final tweaks.

  1. Azerbaijani Turkic Alphabet And Numbers
  2. Which Animal Is More Useful? (Hansı Heyvan Daha Faydalıdır?)
  3. Jirtdan’s Halloween
  4. Fun Facts About Animals; A Multilingual Pictionary In English, Azerbaijani, Turkish And Farsi

What’s the best way to market your books?

For me right now, my target audiences are mostly in my circle, and I let them know by posting on my social media pages.

How hard or easy is it to establish and maintain a career in writing?

I do not look at this as a career, but I would say it takes a lot of effort and determination if one wants to make it a full-time job.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Just listen to the sound inside you, take on new challenges and never give up. You won’t regret!

Visit Author Darya Hd book links:-

Darya’s Amazon author page

Darya’s blog

Follow Darya on Instagram

Visit Darya on Facebook

Subscribe to Darya’s Youtube Channel:

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