A true account of Sima Goel, the Iranian teenager who crossed the most dangerous desert in the world rather than accept the restrictions of life in Iran of the early 1980s. Her quest for freedom is a thrilling, timely inspiration for people longing to create a life of meaning. It was the last straw!
The Ayatollah Khomeini had decreed that all women in Iran must wear the hijab, whether they were Muslim, Jewish, Christian, or Baha'i. Thirteen-year-old Sima had gone out into the streets of Shiraz to demonstrate for freedom under the Shah's oppressive rule, and now that he had fled the country, this was the result: a new regime, and a much more repressive rule. The changes Khomeini's regime forced on the population were totally incompatible with Sima's ambitions and sense of personal freedom. Blacklisted by her school, unable to continue her studies, mourning the murders of innocent family members and friends, and forced to wear the hijab, she realized she had to leave her beloved birthplace and find a country where she could be free to follow her dreams.
Fleeing the Hijab is a vivid portrait of a dangerous journey made by two teenaged girls through the Iranian desert to Pakistan, where, as homeless refugees, they struggled desperately to find some way to escape to the West. It is a story that needs to be heard and remembered.
Iranian-born Sima Goel has always had compassion for those who suffer. Her instinctive need to speak out against oppression ultimately resulted in unwanted attention from the authorities, which led her to flee her beloved Shiraz and eventually to Montreal.
Sima Goel is a self-made woman. Her journey to freedom, recounted in her memoir, Fleeing the Hijab, A Jewish Woman’s Escape from Iran, reflects her belief that, without freedom of choice, life is worthless. She is a strong advocate for the disenfranchised and the rights of all, specifically the rights of women. With the publication of her book, Sima has fulfilled the promise she once made to herself: to speak out and share her truth that freedom is the most precious commodity of all.
Wellness chiropractor, health advocate, inspiring author and an in-demand speaker, Dr. Goel considers her most important role to be that of mother to her two teenage boys, and wife to her beloved husband.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I always loved reading and when I was crossing the Iranian desert to Pakistan, I vowed to myself that if I survived, I would write my story and share how I struggled with both angels and demons on that fateful journey.
How long does it take you to write a book? Five years
What is your work schedule like when you're writing? I work full time as a chiropractor, but with a lot of discipline, I would write during evenings, early mornings and on weekends.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? The different ways of expressing myself, my Iranian background and the poetry that is part of my Shirazi culture are so intertwined in my story that they allow me to express myself in English with the rhythm and imagery of another place and time.
How do books get published? That is the most trying part of the whole process because if you are not a known author you need a literary agent to work with you. If you are not a known author, no literary agent wants to work with you. This makes you a good catch for unscrupulous publishers who know your predicaments and take advantage of you and your story.
I first published my book with General Store Publishing House. Within a few months, they announced that they would be closing their door. They did not pay my royalties and they warned me that there was nothing I could do. It would have cost me so much in legal fees that I finally decided to publish my book on my own. That was the best decision I ever made. As with many companies who go bankrupt, they opened under a new name.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? They were buried in the deepest crevasses of my mind. I did not “get” ideas. I reported my experience truthfully.
When did you write your first book and how old were you? I started writing Fleeing The Hijab, in 2009, when I was 44 years old and published it when I turned 49.
What do you like to do when you're not writing? I love spending time with my family and friends in nature. I enjoy walking, hiking, exercising, gardening, painting, and reading.
What does your family think of your writing? It was hard on my family and at times frustrating for them, but they recognized that it was a healing process for me and they encouraged me to continue.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? The most surprising thing for me was how detailed my memories were. The more painful memories took longer to dig up, but in the end, these proved to be the most uplifting and liberating.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? One so far, but the second marinating.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they? If you are chosen to be a writer, and you accept the challenge, start writing and keep writing. It will not be easy but you must persevere. Keep in mind you can’t please everyone, so be true to yourself and you will be proud of what you accomplish.
My native language is Persian. I had no idea what it would take to write and publish a book, nor the type of obstacles I would have to face. I never anticipated that the language barrier would be such a challenge. Even if reading my story, Fleeing The Hijab, inspires one person, I feel I have paid it forward in the literacy circle. I love reading and I am happy that others can learn something from my personal experiences
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