Why I Wrote

A painting by Abbas Mehran A Wheat Plant

I wrote Alley of Scented Roses to celebrate my daughter’s life achievement. I could have written a memoir expressing my grief and sorrow, but instead, I wrotAbbas Mehran Artist Noveliste an uplifting novel infused with blossoming flowers and the intoxicating aroma of Persian rose attar. I filled its stories with humour, humanity, and affection.

It all began when my daughter, Marsha Mehran, the bestselling author of Pomegranate Soup, passed away in April 2014. She had been working on her third book, The Margaret Thatcher School of Beauty, for several years. Unfortunately, she couldn’t complete it due to her struggles with mental health. After her death, I took it upon myself to bring the book to its full potential to the best of my abilities, and it was published in October of the same year.

Before Marsha’s passing, I was an established visual artist—a painter—not a writer. However, writing novels has always been my significant interest and passion. The tragic loss of my daughter shattered my world and forever changed my life. I found myself unable to engage in visual arts anymore, as art no longer provided solace or hope amidst my mental anguish.

While still mourning and grieving, I conceived the idea of writing a novel about Marsha herself: She was a highly talented and successful young writer. She became paralysed by writer’s block and eventually succumbed to loneliness, agony, and poverty after years of struggling. However, I couldn’t bear the thought that my daughter had died without her dreams being fulfilled. I wanted her to achieve success, both in writing and in life. And so, I imagined a plot where she had overcome her writing block and was still alive, happily writing.

Although I had previously enjoyed reading novels, I had never attempted to write one myself. Nevertheless, the strength of my desire and motivation compelled me to summon all my courage and willpower to embark on this writing journey. I sought inspiration from my daughter’s writings, hired a mentor, took creative writing courses, devoured books on writing, and immersed myself in novels.

Unfortunately, another devastating tragedy struck my life when my son, Sam Mehran, a brilliant musician and songwriter, passed away in 2018 at the young age of 31. This loss pushed me even closer to the edge of darkness, plunging me into another lengthy period of grief, sorrow, and pain.

However, after navigating the healing process for the second time, I began to look forward once more. I had a mission to fulfil. It took me another year to develop a manuscript I believed was complete and flawless. Eager to share my work, I hastily submitted the manuscript to various literary agents. However, after waiting for some time and facing rejection, I realised that my manuscript still had a long way to go before it could be deemed publishable.

Thankfully, my resilience and determination prevented me from giving up easily. Marsha’s writings inspired me, and I was guided by her graceful and profound idea of writing about Iranian women in the diaspora. Thus, I decided to start afresh, revising the manuscript repeatedly. I sought critical analysis and assessment from professional literary assessors and ensured that the manuscript underwent copyediting after every significant revision.

In this journey, I had to stumble along a lengthy, rough, and tortuous road filled with anxiety and frustration. However, it was also a joyous process of weaving together the vibrant threads of this unique novel. To further enhance its virtue and joyousness, I incorporated some of my daughter’s beautiful unpublished words, allowing them to be shared with the world.

Additionally, focusing on storytelling, I delved into the richness of the narrative technique of stories-within-stories, paying homage to the legendary storyteller Scheherazade. Without limiting the horizon and possibilities of my novel, I like to believe that it adds something new and distinctive to the tapestry of women’s fiction.

When I left my art practice, I embarked on a new journey that opened fresh opportunities for self-expression through creative writing. I am exhilarated to have traversed the extensive educational process of creating Alley of Scented Roses. This novel served as a means of reconnecting with my daughter and honouring her life, granting her the ending I wished she could have had.