Interview with Adib Khorram, author of Darius The Great is Not Okay

I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Design & Technical Theater (Emphasis in Lighting Design) from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Following that I attended Vancouver Film School and found out I didn’t like making movies very much.

Now I live in Kansas City, where I write books. During the day I work as a graphic designer, videographer, projectionist, and more for live events in and around the Kansas City area and nationwide.


Hi, Adib! Welcome to YA SH3LF. Give us 3 random facts about Adib Khorram.

  1. I once made eye contact with Harrison Ford.
  2. My name means “scholar” in Arabic.
  3. I’m right-handed but I wear my watch on my right hand anyway.

I cannot overstate this: you have such a strong debut! What was the hardest scene to write in Darius The Great is not Okay? And what was the easiest?

Thank you! The hardest scene for me to write is kind of a spoiler, so I’ll give the second hardest: the opening. Beginnings are hard! I tried several different things before I landed on something that worked, and even that changed in the edits!

The easiest scene by far was the very last one. I always knew what the last line of the book would be, and working toward that made the last scene very easy. And it’s still about 90% the same from what I wrote in my very first draft.

What inspired you to want to tell this story?

I was visiting my own family for Nawruz and thinking about how it felt growing up, being part of my family but also apart from it. I also have lots of cousins-once-removed that are entering their teenage years and that made me reflect on my own teenage years.

What do you hope readers take away from Darius The Great is not Okay?

I don’t think there’s one overarching thing…books are so personal to the reader. I guess I hope each reader finds some bit of Darius’s story that speaks to them, that shines a light on a problem they have in their own life and makes it seem a little more surmountable.

What was the hardest part about this journey to becoming a debut novelist?

I have impostor syndrome pretty bad, so I’ve had a lot of anxiety about the whole process. Not that I’m complaining, because it’s also been absolutely amazing! But I have a hard time silencing the voice in the back of my head that tells me I don’t deserve this.

What about the books you wish you had when you’re sixteen?

There is such a wealth of books for teens these days that, I think, speak so much more truthfully than anything I read when I was a teenager. While we still have a long way to go toward making sure all voices are included in the kidlit scene, we’re light years ahead of where we were when I was in high school. More than that, though, I wish I hadn’t been forced to read so many “classics” that didn’t speak to me at all. I’m of the opinion that forcing teens to read books they don’t like is a good way to teach them not to enjoy reading. More than anything, I wish I’d been more encouraged to seek out reading for my own pleasure.

Read more about Darius The Great is Not Okay 


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