The K-State Student Union Ballroom was full from the moment the doors opened on Thursday night. Some audience members sat with their knees bouncing up and down, clutching a novel to their chests. Others chatted amongst themselves, awaiting the coming event. Adib Khorram, author of this year’s KSBN common read, “Darius the Great is Not Okay” climbed up to the podium in the front of the room to speak about his book.
Khorram, an Iranian-American from Kansas City, Missouri, began his lecture by explaining the path he took to becoming an author and the struggles he faced throughout his life. He said he was diagnosed with depression when he was about 13 years old, and spent high school contemplating his future until he found his way to a college in southern Illinois.
“It was funny — I arrived in college convinced that I knew everything there was to know about everything, including theater, and boy was I wrong — [it] turns out I knew very little,” Khorram said. “But I’m glad because I feel like when you open yourself up to admit that you don’t know things, that’s when the magic happens.”
Khorram said he spent a lot of his time in high school trying to fit in and remembers that in college, he spent time trying to stand out. After pursuing theatrical lighting design, he said he attended one year of film school before moving back to Kansas City, where he eventually found himself writing.
“Turns out screenwriting is really hard,” Khorram said. “But for novel writing, [it] turns out you don’t actually have to know anything. You don’t need any equipment other than something to write with. And thankfully, I’m notorious at collecting free pens at doctors’ offices.”
After a few attempts at writing novels, Khorram said he was visiting his family in Vancouver, British Columbia when he began to find inspiration.
“Oh, well I’m Iranian-American — there aren’t that many other Iranian-Americans writing, maybe I’ll write about that,” Khorram said. “I have this great big family that I’m constantly saying ‘Hello’ and then saying ‘Goodbye’ to, maybe I should write about that. I live with depression, maybe I should write about that. I’m super gay, maybe I should write about that. I love tea, let’s write about that.”
Morgan Purdy, freshman in apparel and textiles, said she thought Khorram’s talk was amazing.
“He was so funny and really honest and just humble,” Purdy said. “He just wasn’t what I was expecting at all.”
Amber Cox, sophomore in social sciences, said she thinks the talk was good for first year students.
“I loved how personal it was, and how he really brought the issues of sexuality and the mental illness and culture and traveling from home into one book that really encompasses everything that, honestly, a lot of first year students are going through here,” Cox said.
Khorram said he ended up writing a novel that was personal, and one he didn’t think anyone else would want to read.
“Having worked on it, I decided I would try to get published,” he said. “And, in kind of a weird series of events it did, and got published and got surprisingly well received.”