Simon “Sion” Ebrahimi is a retired Iranian Jewish accountant and author who was held hostage for many months in his office in Tehran during the Iranian revolution. Simon’s office was located across the street from the U.S. Embassy. In November 1979, when the embassy was taken over by armed revolutionary thugs, Simon and his partners were also held hostage inside their offices by his armed employees. Now in his seventies, he resides in Los Angeles and has penned a fictional, multi-generational family saga loosely based on his family’s life in Iran.
Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Simon
Simon: I was born and raised in Jewbareh, the Jewish ghetto of Esfahan, Iran. I studied management and finance in England before returning to Iran, where I was a partner to an international accounting firm. In 1979, I was taken hostage by my employees at the same time as the American Embassy compound was overtaken by the Islamic Republic. I left Iran with my wife and two daughters after the revolution to settle in Los Angeles, California. For over fifteen years, I was the editor of Shofar, a monthly magazine published both in English and Farsi by the Iranian American Jewish Federation, with an international readership of about fifty thousand. I have also had popular television and radio programs in the Persian media.
When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
Simon: Although I was an economist by profession, writing had always been the passion of my life. I began with short stories and ended up writing a multi-generational family saga of five generations of Iranian Jews. Veiled Romance is the last of the five generations; the other four are waiting in the line.
When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
Simon: For as long as I remember, I’ve been writing. Once you commit your feelings and thoughts to paper and people read and appreciate it, you’ve already accomplished your goal. Iranian Jews have over 2500 years of history in Persia which is unknown to many. If you’re curious about the life stories of a Jewish minority in Iran, you are my reader.
Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?
Simon: The novel Veiled Romance begins as Leila Omid writes her memoirs from an Iranian prison. As she struggles to survive in hellish conditions, she sets down the story of how she was educated in the United States, where she met and fell in love with Cyrus, a fellow Iranian Jewish student. Separated for years, they were reunited in Tehran and their love was rekindled, but when the revolution erupted Cyrus was taken hostage by Islamic fundamentalists and … Well, please go to my website (www.Simon-Writes.com), read the first two chapters of the book and if you’re interested, buy the book (either on the site or Amazon) and read the rest.
What’s the hook for the book?
Simon: An Iranian young, American educated, brilliant woman, in love, writing her memoirs from Islamic Republic jail.
How do you develop characters? Setting?
Simon: By making them learn from their experiences. Setting? What better than having been taken hostage during the American Embassy hostage taking in Tehran (which is what exactly happened to me.)
Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?
Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
Simon: In Veiled Romance, I have used the technique of flash backs.
Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?
Simon: First person POV, for you can wear different hats of your characters.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Simon: The story of the male character in the book is mostly based on my own life story. A Jew in a Muslim country with Muslim friends and enemies both!
Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.
On Nov. 4, 1979, Islamist students and militants loyal to the Ayatollah Khomeini took over the American Embassy compound in Tehran and captured 52 Americans — a diplomatic crisis that lasted 444 days.
Simon Sion Ebrahimi, a local Iranian Jewish author, remembers that day well. It was the same day employees at his accounting firm, which faced the American Embassy, took him hostage.
Now a 73-year-old retired banker living in Woodland Hills, Ebrahimi has incorporated his hostage ordeal in Tehran as well as other experiences before and during the Iranian Revolution into “Veiled Romance,” the first in a planned series of novels depicting the multi-generational saga of an Iranian Jewish family.
What are your current projects?
Simon: I’m reviewing the past five generations of this family saga.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Simon: As I mentioned above, they can read the first two chapters of my book and all the feedbacks I’ve had on my website (www.Simon-Writes.com)