Thursday, March 9, 2017

Straight Chatting from the Library: Teymour Shahabi

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Teymour Shahabi will be awarding a print copy of "The Secret Billionaire" with a personal message (International Giveaway) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


How I Came To Be a Writer
I was born into two circumstances that predisposed me to falling in love with writing. The first was to be the child of immigrants. Because my parents were Persian, the flavors and superstitions of our home were a world apart from the life outside our apartment in Paris. But there was one distinction that fascinated me more than any other, and that was language. Words, at first, were a great divider. But soon, as I became less of a foreigner and more of an adopted native son, at that age when languages seep in like baby lotion, they became a great equalizer. I learned French, and I learned English, and because I had to work on being proficient in every language (and, to this day, I’m envious of all who are immediately fluent in any), I learned to treat words themselves as a subject of study and adoration.

The second was to be born with inflamed tonsils. Up until a series of surgeries when I was just a few years short of my first decade, I had a fever almost every day of my life. I still remember: a good day meant being only a couple of degrees higher than the norm—which meant being able to get out of bed and go to school. Most days, my universe was reduced to three objects: a cold towel on my head, a bucket on the floor, and a book in my hands. Books became the world to me, and from the start I could think of them only with thankfulness. Maybe it’s because, for the first few years of my life, books were one of the few things I could do that I soon became convinced that I needed to write.

From my teens to the present day, I can summarize my journey as a writer in a few quick sentences. I continued to love reading, and I continued to write. There was also another constant—rejection. I wrote four novels before The Secret Billionaire, I tried to publish every one of them, and I know as many agents who took a chance on me as I know fairies and leprechauns. I’d never written a young adult novel before this fifth book, but there were two things about it that were certain before I wrote the first page, and I’m not sure why: I knew that this story of teenagers setting out to solve a mystery felt more real, more natural, more urgent to me than anything else I could write; and I also knew that the time was right (both in my life and within the book industry) to publish it myself.

I wish I could avoid the cliché, but holding my own book really is a dream come true. The one thing that hasn’t changed all along is my feeling towards writing—towards this book and every other book, written by anyone. It’s a feeling of love, of closeness, and, most of all, of gratitude.


March 24. Billionaire Lyndon Surway takes off in his private plane and never returns.

His will leaves the entirety of his wealth—one of the largest fortunes in history—to his “dear friend Lucian Baker.” Only there is no trace of anyone by that name. And the fortune itself is nowhere to be found.

Andrew Day knows nothing of wealth and privilege, but he won a scholarship to study at the most exclusive school in the country, in the town where the mystery, decades later, remains unsolved. There he discovers friendship and danger with the aristocratic Cameron and the beautiful Olivia. But watchful eyes follow him everywhere... Until, one night, he comes across a secret that will change his life. As he begins to unravel what really happened to the Surway fortune, the question remains: who is Lucian Baker?

Winner: Northern California Book Festival, Best Young Adult Book, 2016
Winner: Great Midwest Book Festival, Best Young Adult Book, 2016
Winner: Florida Book Festival, Best Young Adult Book, 2016


They continued to follow the fence on the sandy path along the road. But the House remained hidden. The elms on the other side of the fence barred their sight. They all sensed, without saying so, that the trees would thin out. They were so hopeful for a clearing that they could picture it as they went, lying just beyond the shadow of the last trunk they could see. But the last trunk kept receding, and the curtain of trees kept on going beyond it, as silent and unhelpful as the empty road alongside.

All of a sudden, Olivia stopped. Her eyes were fixed on the ground. Neither Cameron nor Andrew could make out what she was staring at in the sand of the path. She brought a hand over her knee and crouched. The boys gathered closer. Their shadows mingled over her. She looked up into their faces. After a few seconds, she asked, “What do you guys think?”

“What do we think of—?” Cameron began, taking another step closer, when suddenly she shouted, “Cameron, stop!”

She jumped up and held out her arms.

“What the hell was that?” he yelled out.

“Don’t step on it!”

“Don’t step on what?”

“The footprint!” she answered in a whisper, as if just remembering the sound of her own voice. She glanced over both shoulders, gave Cameron and Andrew a significant look, and slowly lowered herself once more to the ground. The two of them mirrored her movement.

All at once, Andrew saw it. It was a footprint, unmistakable, elementary, like a picture in a comic book, a single elongated shape with a line separating the heel. Cameron asked in a muted voice, “What kind of shoe is that? It doesn’t have any—any details.”

Olivia rolled her eyes. Not even whispering could soften her contempt.

“It’s a boot,” she said.

“A boot,” Cameron repeated. And after a second’s reflection, “So it’s a boot. So what? People leave footprints every day on every path in the world. Some of them wear boots.”

But he didn’t dare to go back to his normal voice.

Olivia continued to study the print as if he hadn’t spoken. It was Andrew who answered, “But no one leaves footprints on this path.”

Cameron and Olivia looked up.

“There’s nothing along this road, nothing for miles in either direction, right? Nothing but the gate of the Surway House.”

They stared at him without reply.

“Well,” he went on, examining the footprint, “assuming that’s the case, then there’s really no reason for anyone to have come here recently—no reason other than...” His eyes turned to the fence.

Olivia’s gaze followed his.

“It’s not just the fact that someone was here recently—” she began.

“How do you guys know it’s so recent?” Cameron broke in. “The print could go back several days, anytime since the last rainfall. For all we know, someone could have left it over the weekend. No one here’s an expert in detection.”

“No,” Olivia rejoined, “but I’m an expert in shoes. That’s how I know it’s a boot.”


Teymour Shahabi was born in Paris of Persian parents in 1985. He moved to the United States to study Comparative Literature and Mathematics at Harvard University. He lives in New York City where he’s spent the last few years among serious professionals, many of whom probably prefer to read nonfiction. The Secret Billionaire is his first published book.

You can watch him try to figure out writing and life at


Buy the book at Amazon.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I'm delighted to be coming here "straight from the library..." Thank you for having me! :)