Hey everyone! I’m BEYOND excited to have Abdi Nazemian, author of The Chandler Legacies (Out now – Balzer & Bray/Harperteen), here for an interview! So, without further adieu, here’s more about the book:
A novel about the enclosed world of privilege and silence at an elite boarding school and the unlikely group of friends who dare challenge the status quo through their writing.
Beth Kramer is a “townie” who returns to her sophomore year after having endured a year of judgment from her roommate, Sarah.
But Sarah Brunson knows there’s more to that story.
Amanda Priya “Spence” Spencer is the privileged daughter of NYC elites, who is reeling from the realization that her family name shielded her from the same fate as Sarah.
Ramin Golafshar arrives at Chandler as a transfer student to escape the dangers of being gay in Iran, only to suffer brutal hazing under the guise of tradition in the boys’ dorms.
And Freddy Bello is the senior who’s no longer sure of his future but has fallen hard for Spence and knows he has to stand up to his friends after what happened to Ramin.
At Chandler, the elite boarding school, these five teens are brought together in the Circle, a coveted writing group where life-changing friendships are born—and secrets are revealed. Their professor tells them to write their truths. But is the truth enough to change the long-standing culture of abuse at Chandler? And can their friendship survive the fallout?
And now for the interview! Enjoy!
Describe your book in ten words or less. Go!
Honesty and creativity of writing students challenges boarding school secrecy.
How did the idea for The Chandler Legacies come about? What inspired the story/characters?
I went to boarding school in the 1990s, and the book is directly inspired by my time there. It was an incredibly impactful and complicated experience for me. On the one hand, I started my boarding school years experiencing the worst hazing, abuse and cruelty I’ve ever seen. On the other hand, boarding school is where I met my best friends for life, and where I met mentors who recognized the creative spirit in me. The book is my attempt to make sense of these conflicting emotions toward a place I’m angry at, a place I’m grateful for, a place where the person I am today was born, and a place I can still travel back to when I close my eyes.
What was your favorite scene that got added during edits?
The very end of the book. I won’t describe it since it’s the end, but it wasn’t there in early drafts, and something about writing that ending made everything that came before it feel more personal and complicated. The book is in part about the act of writing, and the end brought that theme into sharper focus.
Craziest thing you’ve had to Google for a work in progress?
Well, I’ve written or re-written my share of true crime movies and I often feel nervous when I’m looking up specifics about these crimes. Anyone looking at my search history when I’m working on those movies would probably run in the other direction. Luckily, my books have tended to lead me down less frightening rabbit holes of information. Though one thing that’s come to light as I’ve researched certain projects is how, despite the vastness of the internet, there is still so much information we don’t have and will never have, especially about queer histories that were always hidden. I’ve been working on multiple projects about queer history, and in many cases, I’ve done as much research as I can and the rest I’ve had to fill in using as much empathy as I can.
What books would you recommend to a reader who loved yours, and wants to read something similar?
Anyone who wants a deeper exploration of Iranian life should be reading Adib Khorram’s Darius books, which are achingly beautiful. I feel a kinship with two Brazilian authors, Vitor Martins and Lucas Rocha. Lucas’ book, Where We Go from Here, deals with three Brazilian teens impacted by HIV / AIDS and is a great complement to Like a Love Story. For anyone who loves The Chandler Legacies, I would recommend the books of E. Lockhart.
What are three must-have items when you sit down to write?
Coffee, very good headphones, a journal.
Are you working on anything new?
Always. I’m currently working on my next young adult novel, which I’m very excited about. I think it’s my favorite thing I’ve ever written, but the editing process hasn’t even begun yet so maybe it’s too early to say that. And I have a short story, Concerto, in the upcoming anthology Out There: Into The Queer New Yonder. I wrote the short story in early pandemic days, and it’s an ode to the power of love and art to triumph over everything, even time.
About the Author:
ABDI NAZEMIAN (he/him) is the author of Like a Love Story, a Stonewall Honor Book, and The Authentics. His novel The Walk-In Closet won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Debut Fiction. His screenwriting credits include the films The Artist’s Wife, The Quiet, and Menendez: Blood Brothers and the television series The Village and Almost Family. He has been an executive producer and associate producer on numerous films, including Call Me by Your Name, Little Woods, and The House of Tomorrow. He lives in Los Angeles with his husband, their two children, and their dog, Disco. Find him online
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