Today’s the first day of the Girl Gone Viral Blog Tour and so to officially kick things off, I have Arvin Ahmadi here today to welcome and share with y’all just a few words on what writing Girl Gone Viral has meant for him. Arvin is a talented writer with an innate talent of telling stories that will no doubt move readers and make them think. I read and hosted a different tour for his debut, Down and Across, last 2017 and it has been such an honor working for and with Arvin and his publisher, Penguin Random House. I can’t even begin to express just how much I enjoy doing this for them, and so let’s get this blog tour started!
When I first gathered participants for this international blog tour, I wanted so very badly to invite the author himself to maybe be a part of this marketing initiative. For years, I’ve strived to keep my tours author and publisher-friendly and so I’m thrilled to have Arvin here today to talk about his experience in writing Opal Hopper’s story. So, take it away, Arvin!
Excited to announce my next book, GIRL GONE VIRAL.
Feels a bit different from Down and Across, doesn’t it? Let’s count all the ways:
Near-futuristic. Virtual reality. A girl looking for her dad, and an elusive billionaire who may know more than he admits. pic.twitter.com/vd4CSH63YF
— Arvin Ahmadi (@arvinahmadi) August 2, 2018
With some books, you know in your bones why you had to write them. Those are the books that are so personal that they’re almost like therapy—they help you understand yourself, your relationships, your place in the world, your purpose.
That was my debut novel, Down and Across. It was the book I couldn’t not write when I was twenty one years old, because in considering my life thus far, I felt I still didn’t have a clear direction of where it was going. Writing that book helped me get there.
My sophomore novel, Girl Gone Viral, was a bit different. I came up with the idea while I was working at a tech company in New York City. I was excited not just about our company, but Silicon Valley in general, the way it pushed boundaries and embraced the weird. The sheer, sometimes absurd ambition. And so when it came time to write another book, I knew that I wanted it to be set in that world.
And then I came up with Opal. In many ways, she’s the opposite of the protagonist in my debut novel. Where Scott is drifty and indecisive, Opal is confident and firm. Where Scott finds himself at places like McDonalds and the basement of Saint Ex, Opal finds herself addressing millions of fans.
But they are both flawed. They are both complicated. And they’re both fascinating characters whose stories I’m delighted to tell.
Girl Gone Viral was born out of many interests and influences. Virtual reality. Silicon Valley. The nerdy magnet high school I attended. Some of my favorite novels, like The Circle. Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network was another influence, as it inspired an entire generation of male programmers. Where is our lady Zuck?
Girl Gone Viral is the book of my imagination, but it also asks timely questions about the future. People forget about the ethical side of tech. And the longer we put off talking about it, the harder it could backfire. Opal’s story is about much more than the mystery of her father’s death, or her meteoric rise to fame. It’s about the path we’re going down with smartphones and social media, with VR headsets and self-driving cars—and the ugly bumps we’re likely to hit along the road.
I’ll admit, this book turned out a little darker than I was expecting it to be. I blame Helsinki for that. Yes, the city in Finland. I wrote most of the first draft of Girl Gone Viral while I was living with a friend there, in the dead of winter. You might be aware that Finland is an extremely cold place, but in February? Stay. Away. Because your characters will turn on you and get moody, emo, extremely teen-angsty in general.
Of course, looking back, I think fondly on my time writing this book in Helsinki. (What is it with looking back and how it always makes things so much nicer than they actually were?) I think about those days when I’d run out of my apartment building into the sub-freezing Helsinki winter, dressed in a wrinkled t-shirt and sweatpants, maybe even gym shorts, with my naked laptop under my arm, and I’d camp out in either the French café on my block, or the Turkish one across the street. And I’d write. That was how Opal was born. That was how the world of Girl Gone Viral came to be.
In tech, there’s this concept of “disruption”: when you’re flipping an idea or industry on its head. Opal Hopper is a disruptor. She quickly learns that playing by the rules won’t get her far, but that her bravery and ambition will. Just like Girl Gone Viral, Opal can’t be placed in any one box or category. My hope is that you find yourself rooting for her—even when it’s hard, and even when her future, like ours, is darkly uncertain.
|DATE||NAME||BLOG / SITE|
|May 16, 2019||JM||Tour launch post @ BFR|
|May 17, 2019||Bianca||The Ultimate Fangirl|
|Kate||Your Tita Kate|
|May 18, 2019||Pam||The Girl Who Cried Books|
|May 19, 2019||Karina||Afire Pages|
|May 20, 2019||Marie||Drizzle and Hurricane Books|
|Alexia||The Bookworm Daydreamer|
|May 21, 2019||JM||Book Freak Revelations|
|May 22, 2019||Miel||Bookish and Awesome|
|Salve||Cuckoo for Books|
|May 23, 2019||Inah||The Bibliophile Confessions|
|Simant||Flipping Thru The Pages|
|May 24, 2019||Kate||Reading Through Infinity|
This post will be updated every day once tour stop posts have been published, so check back every now and then to follow along the blog tour!
Arvin Ahmadi grew up outside Washington, DC. He graduated from Columbia University and has worked in the tech industry. When he’s not reading or writing books, he can be found watching late-night talk show interviews and editing Wikipedia pages. Down and Across is his first novel.
Until the next one!