Interview with mystery novelist Teymour Shahabi

My special
guest today is Teymour Shahabi. He’s
chatting with me about his new young adult mystery novel, The Secret Billionaire.

During his virtual book tour, Teymour will be awarding a print copy of The Secret Billionaire with a personal
message (international giveaway) to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be
entered for a chance to win, use the
link below.
To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit
his other tour stops
and enter there, too.

Teymour Shahabi was born in Paris of Persian parents in 1985. He moved to the
United States to study Comparative Literature and Mathematics at Harvard
University. He lives in New York City where he’s spent the last few years among
serious professionals, many of whom probably prefer to read nonfiction. The Secret Billionaire is his first
published book.
You can
watch him try to figure out writing and life on his Facebook page.

Welcome, Teymour. Please share a little
bit about your debut release.

The Secret Billionaire is a young adult mystery novel. It tells the story of an enormous
fortune that a tycoon left in his will for “his dear friend Lucian Baker.” Only
there is no trace of anyone by that name. Decades later, three high school
students set out to solve the mystery.

Excerpt from
The Secret Billionaire:
The Metropolitan Times
June 24, 196…
At nine o’clock yesterday morning,
following ninety days of fruitless searching, billionaire industrialist and
businessman Lyndon Surway was officially pronounced dead. Mr. Surway was last
seen by members of his staff departing from the main airplane hangar of his
estate a few minutes past eight in the morning, flying alone aboard one of his
aircraft. His last recorded words to the command center crew of his hangar
were: “Clear skies and mild winds. Perfect visibility, or as perfect as I could
hope, for as long as I can tell. Gentlemen, I wish you a thorough enjoyment of
this fine day.” Nothing unusual was noted in his language or behavior.
The late Mr. Surway often took his
plane out with no stated destination. But this time, he failed to return at the
customary hour of six in the evening. As no word had been received from him,
the kitchens were advised that he would likely dine outside. At ten o’clock on the
following morning, when there was still no news of Mr. Surway or his aircraft,
the Steward of the House alerted the municipal, state, and federal authorities,
and a search began for the missing magnate. But no airport, hotel, hospital or
inn within fuel’s range of the estate could provide any information. Dozens of
interviews bore no result. Countless journalists and detectives rushed in from
every corner of the country, but none of them could unearth a single clue
regarding Mr. Surway’s whereabouts. Not even the Steward could guess where Mr.
Surway had gone. On the morning of his disappearance, Mr. Surway had only told
him: “My day is free and so am I.”
Fifteen infantry troops were
dispatched, with over a hundred hound dogs, across more than two hundred miles
of hills and valleys surrounding the town of Spring Forge, where Mr. Surway
lived. The infantry and the dogs found nothing. The Air Force then loaned
eighteen jet-powered aircraft to continue the search. The Navy joined the
effort with five ships, sixteen helicopters, and four submarines to scour the
coastal regions, islands, and ocean floor within flying range of the Eastern
Seaboard. Again nothing was found. Finally then, a large-scale search was
conducted through the grounds and the buildings of Surway House itself, led by
seven hundred volunteers from Spring Forge and other towns throughout the
valley. Still they found nothing. Yesterday marked three months since Mr.
Surway’s disappearance. The aircraft was legally declared lost, and its owner deceased.
Mr. Surway, estimated for each of the past twelve years to be the wealthiest
man in the Western Hemisphere, leaves behind no known relatives.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Thanks to incredibly supportive readers, I’m working on… the sequel!

When did you first consider yourself a

I can’t
remember a time when I didn’t see writing in my future. Logically, there must
have been such a time—perhaps contemporaneous with potty training.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?

I work full-time in a field that has nothing to do with writing, and I’m
incredibly lucky to love my job. I’m even more fortunate to be surrounded by
colleagues who support and even celebrate my writing. And by challenging me and
teaching me in ways that are seemingly completely unrelated to fiction, they
constantly help me grow as a person – and therefore as a writer. This said,
finding the time to write requires a fair amount of discipline. To make
progress, I must stick to a strict schedule taking up nights, weekends, and much
of my vacation time, with no exceptions allowed (otherwise, what’s NOT an
exception?). But it’s all self-imposed, and I get along shockingly well with my
writing boss.

What would you say is your
interesting writing quirk?
Writing, to
me, requires both clarity of mind and physical energy. A quick way to achieve
both is to listen to loud, inspiring music before setting down to work. Another
one, more recently, has been to practice the bo staff. I have no roommates and
no mirror in the living room—so who’s to say I don’t look heroic?!

As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
In all seriousness, pharaoh. Then, a few years later, orchestra conductor.
More recently I’ve gone back-and-forth between the two.

Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?

One of the characters in the book is obsessed with a specific (grievously
underrated) type of food. So am I. It’s a love affair.

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