1. What is your book about?
Spirit Within Club is actually a series; the first volume came out in 2011, and I am currently working on the second volume. It’s a coming-of-age story about a group of 10 year old friends who want to contribute to the betterment of the world while dealing with the usual affairs of that age group. Each book will correspond to a school year; so they are now 11 years old and finishing elementary school.
2. What for the inspiration behind this novel?
I had the pleasure of volunteering as a teacher since I was ten years old; I first started as an assistant, then, when I was older, became a volunteer teacher myself. Most of the time I was volunteering as a Bahá’í teacher, working through curriculums such as the Virtues Guide or spiritual empowerment programmes. I also did some tutoring. What always struck me is the dichotomy between the way children and preteens are seen and the way they actually are. Children are incredibly intelligent; preteens are incredibly selfless. But even if people say that children are smart and preteens are selfless, they act in ways that reflect a belief to the contrary. Children are not trusted with chores or expected to contribute significantly to any adult conversation, and preteens are expected to like watching television or movies, spending hours on Tumblr, or going to the mall instead of participating in constructive activities. I wanted to share the “other side” of the coin by creating a fictional world that is inhabited by characters and situations that have happened, in some shape or form, in real life.
3. Which character did you enjoy writing about the most?
Because each character is a patchwork of aspects of people whom I have worked with, I have an affinity for them all. But the two that I particularly enjoyed writing are that of the two older youth, Saba and Sépideh. They were named after my sisters, who also have spent years working with children and preteens. While the characters are not a reflection of who my sisters are, people who know my sisters recognise certain aspects of their character and even of their relationship as developed in the pages of Spirit Within Club.
4. What was the catalyst to your writing career?
My parents! They had noticed and nurtured in me a love for story-telling and a pretty big imagination that had apparently manifested itself early on in me. Mom and Dad have always tried to lead a life of service; they encouraged me to do the same, and to find a way to use these interests of mine to inspire. It didn’t start too well though—I had an obsession with writing scary stories, some of which made it into another book of mine, Chills: A Short Story Collection. But I am getting the hang of it, although I have a long way to go still!
5. Can you tell me about what you are writing now?
I am working on four projects at the same time. The first is, of course, the second volume of Spirit Within Club. The second is a young adults novel about a 16 year old girl whose summer is filled with firsts—first job, first service activity, first time her parents are having marriage problems, first crush—and how she deals with them. The third is a collection of essays that can also be found on my blog. And the fourth is a collective effort. A group of writer friends from around the world are putting together a collection of short stories about the topic of heroism in a format familiar to those who read Love: A Short Story Collection.
Sahar Sabati’s book is called Spirit Within Club and all the details are below:
Spirit Within Club by Sahar Sabati
Published: October 7, 2011
Genres: MG; YA; Fiction
The arts teacher is ruining what used to be Aiko’s favorite class. Zeke misses out on the best part of the whole year the science fair when he has to go into the hospital. Arwen lives to play soccer but a stupid lie means he might not be allowed to play. Ghada comes home to find that her beloved grandma has died. When ten-year-old friends set up an after-school club so they can hang out together more often, they don’t expect to be able to solve these problems themselves. But when they tap into the spirit within them, they and their friends discover that they have the power to make the world a better place.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The author of Spirit Within Club, Chills: A Short Story Collection, Love: A Short Story Collection, and Warp and Woof: A Short Story Collection, Sahar was born the first of three siblings and the first of eight cousins who grew up together. Thrust in the role of head of the brood at a very early age, she honed her imagination by creating stories and plotlines the eight of them could play to all summer long. But soon, her interest in the paranormal took its toll on said brood. Worried on the long-term effects (as well as potential therapy costs) of this continual exposure to increasingly scary stories her oldest was (too) expertly weaving for their terrified ears, her mother gave her a typewriter – and a writer was born. Over the years, Sahar branched out from books to screenplays, countless short stories, numerous essays, two blogs, and one Facebook page.