Abdi attended the 2018 TeenBookCon in Houston. Check out an interview he did with Blue Willow Bookshop in anticipation of the event. Read the full interview here.
We’ve read that one of your goals for your books is to tell stories of gay characters in immigrant communities. Can you tell us about why that’s important to you and how you plan to continue representing those characters?
When I realized I was gay, there were no stories about gay Iranians out there. It made me feel like I didn’t exist, or like the world didn’t want me to exist. So telling these stories feels like writing myself into existence, and giving the teenage me the stories he needed. Hopefully, the stories also give other queer people from immigrant communities some narratives to look to if they want to see themselves. The queer immigrant experience is often very different from the queer experience that is most often depicted in stories, and I think it’s important for us to see ourselves. In my career as a screenwriter and producer, I have thus far failed in my attempts to tell queer Iranian stories (or any Iranian story), so I’m relishing the chance to tell these stories in literary form. I’m deep into my next book right now, and one of the lead characters is a queer Iranian teenager, so I’m not done yet.