I had the pleasure of meeting author Aline Ohanesian, author of ORHAN’S INHERITANCE, at a luncheon at the Huntington Beach Library earlier this year. Aline explained that the novel began as a voice in her head, a character telling her story, which Aline undertook to write instead of her Ph.D dissertation. Lucky for us. Meet Aline:
What have you learned from parenting, or from your own parents, that you bring to your work as a writer?
There were very few books in my house growing up. My parents were immigrants trying to realize the American dream, which meant their focus was on making a living. There was very little room for art or literature in their lives. This worked in my favor because when I discovered fiction at a very early age it was something entirely my own. Books were magical portals I could disappear into, that weren’t mitigated or controlled by adults.
Where do you write? What do you love about it?
We have a family office that I share with my husband and two kids. From 8 am to 3 pm, when everyone is at school or work, that space is entirely mine. My desk is twice as large as everyone else’s and the wall behind it is made of corkboard. I like to surround myself with books and images from the book I’m currently writing. I love that I can see the San Juan Hills through the French doors.
If you had a motto, what would it be?
I don’t have a motto but I do have a strong work ethic. I try to write everyday if I can. I write past the self-doubt, past the need to get up and make a casserole. Some days are better than others but I like to look back at the end of the day and know I dedicated time and effort to my writing.
Who inspires you?
I’m often inspired by poetry and the visual arts. Poetry has an unclogging effect. I turn to it when I can’t or don’t want to write. Sometimes (not always and not exclusively) the poetry I read is associative. What I mean by that is if I’m writing about a certain time and place, I’ll read poetry from that period/ place.
What charity or community service are you passionate about?
Right now I am working with a domestic abuse center for women and children in Armenia. I run a writing workshop that allows domestic abuse victims to write their stories in a way that’s healing and empowering.
What are you reading now, and/or what book do you recommend?
I’m currently reading Ursula Le Guin’s Lavinia. I’m also re-reading Homer. I wasn’t very interested in the classics as a young reader. I wanted the freedom to choose my own books and something about the classroom setting really stripped these books of their power and magic, so I’m revisiting them in my own time and in my own way.
Aline was born in Kuwait and immigrated to Southern California at the age of three. After getting her MA in History, she abandoned her PhD studies when she realized her heart belonged to the novel. She is an alumni of the Bread Loaf and Squaw Valley writer’s conferences. She lives and writes in San Juan Capistrano, CA, with her husband and two young sons.