This Mother’s Life reads like a deeply personal account of a year in a woman’s life. But it is, in fact, fiction. It reveals the passion, commitment, and daily challenges in the life of every mother, professional woman and citizen. This Mother’s Life (Infinity Publishing) is written as a daily journal, exploring topics as wide-ranging as politics, religion, relationships and divorce.
Nina Mohadjer chose to write a novel instead of an autobiography because in many ways, the life she chose to portray is one common to every working mom. “This character doesn’t have a name because I would like to have every woman identify with her,” she says.
“…[W]e know how it is to do the splits as we stretch to balance family and work for twenty hours a day. Only a woman who has children and a boss can understand how….unforeseen events have to be expected and taken into account. Only she will understand how running from a parent–teacher conference to a new policy meeting to a night of intimacy an everyday task is,” Mohadjer continues.
Reviewers have applauded her candor and spirit. “It is gritty, big time, Nina has put into a book things women might ‘think’ but being ladies would never say, but she says it all….She drills down to some no-holds-barred conversation….It’s all in there, marriage, sex, prejudice, raising children, how women feel about each other, everything. This is a brutally honest book that comes from her life and maybe from yours.” Another reviewer calls This Mother’s Life “riveting” and “heart wrenching.”
Readers will recognize the journey of this remarkable woman as she moves from feeling foreign wherever she is, to feeling at home in the heart of her dreams.
Bijan Tehrani: How did you start with writing your blog?
Nina Mohadjer: I always liked to write ever since I was 7 years, old, I liked to write little short stories and had actually written a book before at the age of 12, however I never published that one, and with the blog it came when I was done with my studies here in the US with the LLM, and I was looking desperately for a job and so out of boredom a friend of mine said that I should start writing about it and blogging, which I did and I did not promise myself anything out of it, however within 2 days, 48 hours, 15 different people contacted me, people I had never heard from before, complete strangers telling me how much they loved my writing style and how I should keep up the work, slowly after a month people were asking if I would put it together in a book and so that is how the whole idea developed.
BT: I think there is an interesting angle in your writing, because while you are a modern woman, a modern mother in a modern time, you also have this background of coming from a different culture, how did that affect your life in your writing especially and the way that you wrote things?
NM: My life has generally always been between these two culture being an Iranian and being raised very German, coming to the US forced me to actually find out what I actually was, basically a human being living on earth, completely putting those down those boundaries of nationality and country and thinking okay, we all have the common denominator, we are all humans and every mother no matter which nation loves her children, so that one was easier, in the writing it was difficult for me to jump out of my comfort zone, people who read that book for example, they were amazed by the amount of F-words that I used in that book, because I always looked like a lady and you know that Persian expectation that a woman should not say certain things. To those people I mentioned just the fact that I don’t do a lot of the things that I do in the book or the narrative, or the things she writes in her diary, does not necessarily mean that I don’t have those thoughts in my head so getting the thoughts out of my head and putting them on paper, that was the most difficult part and I think it goes back to your question and it really explains my culture awareness. That is the part where my Iranian side, my Persian side came out, a lady does not say these words.
BT: How much did the culture of Germany help you because Germany has changed a lot since the second World War and I can see these days that Germany has one of the most advanced intellectual cultures in our time, how much has that helped you to be open in what you are writing?
NM: The German part of me happens to be very blunt and anyone who knows me knows that the middle Eastern blood is there and the German Bluntness is there as well, with me it is basically what you see is what you get unless that Persian boundary is there. The German culture helps me a lot by absolutely fulfilling this dream, I am going to put this book together, I am going to publish it, the German discipline the German intellectuality of saying okay you can do this, you can absolutely make it happen and you can put the blog entries together, and you can make a book out of it, regardless of how much work I had being a single working mother, which is a challenge by itself, but after 12 hour workdays sitting and continuing to write was all because of that German discipline was there to absolutely have me and putting it together and finishing it up.
BT: People appreciate your openness in your writing and being honest because that is very helpful to other people to actually find where they are, how have people reacted to your book?
NM: Well there are different readers of my book, one the people who did not know me, they were absolutely in love with the book and the people who knew me and thought they might have recognized themselves, they were a little shocked about the observations that I had about them and brought the issues that they tried to cover up, but in general I tried to convince them that there is not one single person in the book that I have known for real, basically as I mentioned in the preface, every person and every character is a mix of all of us. Some people who knew my old life, they were floating between real life Nina and the narrator of the book, not being 100% sure if I had really done a lot of the things which the narrator of the book has done, not knowing where the line was between fiction and non-fiction, that was I think for many people who know me for real, was the biggest challenge for them. For instance the narrator she invents this woman and then they would ask me if I ever did this and a lot of times I don’t give the response because I like the mystery more and to let them figure out whether I did something like this or not, I think that was one of the biggest challenges for them.
BT: To find the difference between your own personal experience or just a story…I think people also look to see if it is something that they have done. What has been the reaction of the people that are close to you and how much reality do they find in the story?
NM: My parents have not read the book, my parents are fluent in German but their English is not so good and in a way because of the word choice I am happy that they have not read it, my sister has read it but she did not give me her reaction, my children my younger daughter who name is actually in the book as Jasmine her real name is Simin, she read it and laughed out loud at certain areas and at others she said I can’t believe that I took the real story and rephrased it, at some parts she wasn’t even sure whether it surfaced or not. My parents if they ever read the book would know which experiences of this woman are real Nina and which one is fiction, but none of them would ever come out the box and say it anyone else.
BT: What is your future plans as a writer for the future?
NM: Many people have asked me whether there will be a continuation of the book or whether I was thinking about something else, writing for me was mostly a hobby because I am working and a full time parent, it has to come really internally, I have to come with an idea for a book where more people will be involved and it will be a collection of short stories; I haven’t implemented my plan yet, the plan is in my head but I haven’t had the time yet to sit down and put it into action but I am sure that something will change in my life or something will trigger that moment, then I will sit down and write a second book. Not in the same genre but the next one will be something different from a diary, a completely new genre of books.
BT: Have you kept your contact with Iranian culture?
NM: I do have family members in Iran and with the culture generally, because my parents have been living in Germany for 50 years without interruption, they went back to Iran when I was born and then they came back again. My father has always been my Persian parent and my mom has always been my German one. I do have some Iranian friends here in Connecticut however I read more and try to Facebook with family members in Iran, however I am not the typical Iranian woman that you would meet already because of the German influence, then again I do celebrate Norouz, (Iranian New Year) I gave my children my children Persian names their names are Shirin and Simin I use same phrases that a Persian mom uses. My children love Persian food, they like Iranian music and obviously modern Iranian music than Iranian traditional music that my father loves to listen to. I try to pass as much Iranian and German culture to my children and specially to the older one, it has affected her a lot because she is fascinated by it and she has asked me many times why we would not go to Iran and if I would ever take her there because she is fascinated by the history and by the language and the music and everything.
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