On March 1st 2014 Summertime publishes the memoir and writings of a doctor, based in Iran in the first half of the last century. It is a fascinating insight not just into the country, but also the work of a female missionary doctor in a Muslim society. I speak to Margie Frame, the author’s daughter about her mother’s memoir, published posthumously.
JP: Tell us about Passage to Persia. What is it about? Can you describe it in just a few sentences?
MAF: Passage to Persia is about a woman doctor’s life in Iran where she served for 28 years as a medical missionary. Adelaide Kibbe went to Iran in 1929, at age 27, and wrote many letters, reports, and articles about her life and observations of a country transitioning from a feudal world to a modern state. The book also describes her personal journey as a doctor, woman, wife and mother.
JP: Why did you write the book? Why do you think it needed to be written?
MAF: After my mother’s death in 1986 I put away all her correspondence, diaries, and papers until I was emotionally ready to read through them and learn more about her life. A few years ago I sat down and started reading over the material. As I read what she had written, I realized how observant she had been of the changing world around her. Her words and style of writing brings to the reader a vivid image of life in Iran and her personal journey. I felt her story needed to be shared.
JP: Who do you think will read Passage to Persia? Who would you like to read the book?
MAF: The primary readers will most likely be missionaries, church groups, and people who have lived in Iran at some time. I would like Iranians to read it as it describes changes in their country many would not remember or know about. Also, students of Iranian Studies or Middle Eastern History should read the book as a primary history source.
JP: What steps have you taken (or do you plan to take) to promote Passage to Persia?
MAF: I created a flyer about the book with ISBN numbers for ordering the book and a new e-mail account for the book. I will be sending out information with the flyer attached to Missionary offices of various church organizations, Iranian organizations, and colleges and universities with Iranian studies or Middle Eastern studies programs. As a former librarian I will also be sending the flyer to library contacts. I do not have a blog, newsletter, or website.
JP: How did you choose your publisher and publishing method? Why did you decide to take this route?
MAF: My sister recommended asking Ruth van Reken [co-author of Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds and author of Letters Never Sent] to suggest a publisher as she had written books about her own life. Ruth told me about Jo Parfitt and Summertime Publishing and I have been very satisfied with the choice.
JP: What was your biggest challenge regarding the writing of Passage to Persia? How did you overcome that?
MAF: Transcribing all the documents was probably my biggest challenge. There were thirty years of material to review, type out, and edit. Retiring and living in Panama for this last year provided the time and opportunity to finish the book.
JP: Now you have written this book, what has writing it done for you?
MAF: Writing the book has given me a sense of accomplishment, a better understanding of my mother as a person, and an important story to pass on to the family, especially her descendants.
JP: If you were to give advice to someone else who is thinking about writing a book of this nature, what would be your number one tip?
MAF: My advice to other authors is to work on personal material of this nature gradually. There are times when you need to step back, think about what you are writing and digest it. Be willing to edit and delete sections even though to you it is interesting material. At the same time, once you have written the draft of the book and know its overall story, keep material that you know fit into the total story even though on first reading it may not be of interest.
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