I have written a preface to the Alley of Scented Roses, and I would like to share it with you, my dear visitor:
“I could write a book about writing this book. It all began after my daughter, Marsha Mehran, the international bestselling author of Pomegranate Soup, died in April 2014 in Ireland while working on her third book, The Margaret Thatcher School of Beauty.
She had been working on this book for several years but could not finish it due to mental health issues. As I wrote in the book’s afterword, I tried to bring it to an acceptable level as much as my limited knowledge and skills allowed me. The book was published in October of the same year.
Before Marsha’s death, I was an established artist, not a writer, though writing novels had always been a significant area of my interest and passion. The tragic loss of my daughter tore my world asunder and changed my life forever. My mind ceased engaging with the visual arts, and I could no longer continue my daily artistic activities; art could neither assuage my mental anguish nor instigate hope in my heart.
While still mourning and grieving, I came up with the idea of writing a novel about Marsha herself: a highly talented and successful young writer finds herself paralysed by a severe case of writer’s block, and after many years of self-defeating struggle, she dies in loneliness, agony, and poverty.
But I could not, and I did not want, to believe that my daughter had died without achieving her dreams. I wanted her to succeed in writing and life. Therefore, I dreamed up a plot: what if she had somehow resolved her writing block and was still alive, happily writing?
Although I had read and enjoyed novels, I had never attempted to write one. But my desire and motivation were strong enough to emphatically urge me to summon all my courage and willpower to gear myself up to write. I tried to get inspiration from my daughter’s writings. I hired a mentor. I took courses in creative writing. I read books on how to write. And I began to read more novels.
Unfortunately, another devastating tragedy hit my life. My son, Sam Mehran, a brilliant musician and songwriter, died in 2018 when he was only 31. This tragedy thrust me to the edge of a new abyss—another lengthy, dark period of more grief, sorrow, and pain.
After going through the grief and healing process for the second time, I began to look forward again. I had a mission to complete. It took me another year to develop a manuscript that I thought was complete and immaculate. Anxious to publish, I rushed to submit the manuscript to many literary agents. After waiting for some time and facing rejection, I realised that my manuscript was far from immaculate and publishable.
Fortunately, I was too resilient and too determined to give up easily. I was inspired by Marsha’s writings and guided by the grace and beatitude of her idea of writing about Iranian women in diaspora. Therefore, I returned to the beginning, rewriting the manuscript anew—revision after revision. I sought critical analysis and assessment from professional literary assessors and had the manuscript copyedited after each significant revision.
In this journey, I had to stumble along a lengthy, rough, and tortuous road littered with anxiety and frustration. However, it was a great pleasure to weave together the colourful threads of this unique novel. To further elevate its virtue and joyousness, I have embellished it with some of my daughter’s beautiful unpublished words, giving them a chance to be read by the world. Finally, with an emphasis on storytelling, I have explored the richness of the narrative technique of stories-within-stories—thus paying grateful tribute to the legendary storyteller Scheherazade. I like to think this book would contribute something new and distinctive to the diversity of women’s fiction.
When I discontinued my fine art practice, I began a new journey that presented me with fresh opportunities to express myself through creative writing. Now, I am thrilled to have gone through the lengthy educational process of writing Alley of Scented Roses. It became a means of reconnecting with my daughter and honouring her life, giving her the ending I wish she’d had.”