Porochista Khakpour was born in Tehran in 1978 and raised in the Greater Los Angeles area (South Pasadena, to be exact). Her first language was Farsi, her second (and luckily mostly forgotten) tongue, Valley Girl. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and The Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars MA program. She has been awarded fellowships from Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo.
She began writing as an arts and entertainment journalist—her subjects have spanned from clubs (Paul Oakenfold!) to couture (Paul Poiret!); Maggie Gyllenhaal (Maggie’s first big feature!) to Fabio (Porochista’s first feature at 16!); New York City’s finest drinking establishments (Paper magazine bar columnist, 2000-2001, as well as New York magazine online bar critic) to rural Illinois’s most dangerous skydiving compound (2004 staff writer stint at The Chicago Reader). Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The Village Voice, The Chicago Reader, Paper, Flaunt, Nylon, Bidoun, Alef, Canteen, nerve.com and FiveChapters.com, among others.
She currently spends a third of her time in New York City and two thirds three hours away in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania where she teaches Fiction at Bucknell University.
Question: What are you working on now?
Khakpour: I’m working on a novel and a collection of short stories. The collection of short stories has a lot to do with the Iranian exile community, again through sort of a humorous perspective. Then my second novel I just sort of came to recently, and that will be sort of my sophomore daughters after my debut sons. But I am going to sort of force myself into considering the female psyche this time around. And the book is, I think, for the most part, going to be about the network of wives and daughters of a certain greatest terrorist of all time in the context of a sort of floating harem. I’ll say that. I was very interested in the women that came forth in the press. And in fact there were only women that came forth in the press really admitting to connections with Osama bin Laden. And I’ve been reading a lot of their interviews. It’s quite a cast of characters, and all of them seem quite larger than life. So I was very sort of inspired by that. And I was inspired by their courage – for some of them the courage. Some of them were just totally over the top, and who knows what sort of connection they really had. But I was inspired by the press. Sometimes it’s not what actually has happened that I find inspirational, but how the press . . . the filter . . . the press’s filter on events and renderings of public figures. So even if these . . . if their stories are not accurate or real even, they give a good story. And I’m very excited by these women.