Persia Blues – Bouncing Around In Time

Dara Naraghi writes for Bleeding Cool: 

The narrative time-jumps were something I wanted to do from the beginning, despite some words of caution from editors I respect. But credit where credit’s due: my friend Nand suggested the Pinterest idea.

Let me back up a bit.

My name is Dara Naraghi, and I’m a writer with a whole bunch of comics and graphic novels to my credit, including works for DC, Image, IDW, and Dark Horse. A couple of my books have even made it to the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Actually, let me back up several more decades.

I was born in Iran, lived through the Islamic revolution and the first few years of the Iran-Iraq war, and then moved with my family to the US. I completed my education here, and work in the technology field, writing as many comics as I can on the side.

So, back to now…

PB-coverPersia Blues is my creator-owned graphic novel trilogy (along with my artist partner, Brent Bowman), the first volume of which just hit the shelves from NBM Publishing. The series is best described as a fusion of historical fantasy and modern social commentary, featuring a strong-willed young Iranian female protagonist. Here’s how the official solicitation reads:

Minoo Shirazi is a rebellious young Iranian woman struggling to define herself amid the strict social conventions of an oppressive regime and the wishes of an overbearing father. Minoo Shirazi is also a free-spirited adventurer in a fantasy world, a place where aspects of modern America and ancient Persia meld into a unique landscape.

Blending Eastern and Western civilization with elements of ancient Persian mythology, Persia Blues explores the intersections of guilt and freedom, family and self, ancient myths and modern enigmas.

This is by far my most ambitious and personal work to date. Through it, I wanted to showcase the country of my birth, and its thousands of years of history and culture, but also touch upon the reality of its current oppressive regime. I wanted to tell the tale using a strong, resourceful, yet flawed protagonist who would grow and change through the course of the trilogy. And finally, I wanted to play with the narrative form by presenting the story via two distinct settings, set thousands of years apart, where one story progressed chronologically while the other jumped back and forth through time.

It was the latter choice that both excited and worried me. Despite opening up a whole new way of telling my story, I knew it had the potential of confusing and alienating readers. But the reviews so far have been extremely positive, and despite my fears, it looks like everyone gets it.

OK, let’s go back about a year and a half ago…

I was putting the finishing touches on my (now successful) Kickstarter campaign. The goal was to raise enough funds to compensate my artist for the incredible amount of work he was going to put into this research-intensive project (a move fully supported by our publisher). So I solicited some ideas from my friend Nand, who is big into both the design and technology fields. And sure enough, he had some great suggestions, including using the popular social network site Pinterest as a means of sharing exclusive material with project backers.

As it turned out, Pinterest didn’t have the option to make a “private” board at the time. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that even if I could, I wouldn’t want to limit access to such a great resource to just a handful of fans anyway.

Which brings us back (again) to now.

The official Persia Blues website has a free preview of the first book, plus lots of other resources, including a link to the aforementioned Persia Blues boards on Pinterest. The boards are used as a means of providing supplementary background material on the settings and ideas presented in the book. There you’ll find Persian cuisine recipes, photos of modern Iran, scholarly articles on the ancient capital of Persepolis, and lots more.

Thanks for sticking with me as I bounced around (seemingly) randomly. Hopefully it’s put you in the right frame of mind to read Persia Blues.

Dara Naraghi was born in Iran, and educated in the US. He lives and works in Columbus, Ohio with his wife, daughter, and the world’s sweetest hound dog. Visit him at www.daranaraghi.com

 

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