Nahid Sewell was born in Tehran, Iran, before the Islamic Revolution. After finishing high school, she came to the United States, where she obtained a B.A. and M.B.A. from Lehigh University. Nahid began a successful career in Information Technology. While holding full-time positions and raising a family, she began writing articles and was a frequent conference speaker. Her first non-fiction book was a best-seller and she followed with three additional non-fiction books. Nahid has written hundreds of articles, eight of which were featured on magazine covers. She has served as a columnist for two magazines and earned a writing award for an article published in 2007. Nahid is also an award-winning speaker.
While establishing herself as a successful author and Information Technology executive, Nahid married an American man and has two sons. Her husband, who lived for twenty years in a Christian community, provided much of the context for Christian fundamentalism in this, her debut novel. Together, their life’s experiences provide color and add authenticity to this fictional story of an Iranian woman’s struggle for freedom in the face of fundamentalism. Their shared vision of a world where men and women of all colors and cultures, all races and religions, recognize their interconnected oneness gave life to this book.
Nahid is fluent in English, Farsi and French and has traveled to Iran with her family on many occasions, where she experienced and observed first-hand the turmoil and transition she writes about. She enjoys traveling, gourmet cooking, and exercise in her spare time.
Q&ARead the Author's Comments
You’ve been a successful Information Technology professional with four non-fiction books. What inspired you to write this novel?
I was having coffee with a friend, and she made the comment that the movie, Not Without My Daughter, left viewers with the impression that all Iranians are Islamic fundamentalists and should be feared. In a political climate increasingly wary of Iran, I wanted to reshape this image of Iran and show that the Iranian people are not all radical Islamist. Initially, that was my goal. But as I began writing, I felt it was equally important to express empathy for the Iranian woman, her freedom and her rights. I wanted to share the beauty of Persian culture and the warmth of its people. I also hoped to help everyone see that we’re not all that different from one another.
The characters and events in The Ruby Tear Catcher seem so real, so alive. How were you able to achieve this realism?
That was easy. Most of the characters in The Ruby Tear Catcher are based on real people. The events of the story mimic real events. Although fictional, this book is based on real things that happened to real people I either know or know about.
Does Leila, the main character, in any way project some of your own feelings and characteristics?
Absolutely. Much of my personality and character is reflected in Leila. Although I didn’t experience the horrific events Leila had to endure, I identify with her. I grew up in pre-revolution Tehran and enjoyed the kind of life Leila initially enjoys in the novel. My own father, like her Baba, inspired me to be confident and independent. He treated me as an equal and taught me to expect that from everyone. He also taught me that I should respect others, even if I don’t agree with their opinions and ways. Leila is my heroine. Like many women, she sometimes did things to please others, but she never gave up her self-respect or conviction in her beliefs, and she never allowed anyone to break her down, even in the most direst of situations. Leila personifies perseverance, hope, and survival. I’d like to think that’s who I am.
What do you hope to accomplish with this novel?
First and foremost, I want to educate readers about the Iranian culture and its people. For the last thirty years, my country has gone through a major transformation. The arrival of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic Republic meant changes to everyday life for all, with a major impact on women. The novel explores how these changes have affected the women of Iran while offering a message of tolerance. I hope to help people see that we are all children of God, equally deserving of respect and dignity regardless of race, religion, or gender. Finally, I’d like to give hope to my sisters in the Middle East; the women of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, or other places where they are made to suffer under cultural and religious traditions that see them as second class; where they are not treated with the respect they deserve. There is love for them in our hearts. There is hope.
Favorite ReadsAuthor's Favorite Reads
While there are many great literary works of art in books and authors, below is a short list of books that have influenced and inspired Nahid.
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini
Sarah’s Key Tatyana de Rosnay
Shanghai Girls Lisa See
Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden