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Author Iman Hariri-Kia On Her Debut Novel ‘A Hundred Other Girls’ & Imposter Syndrome

Noora is an Iranian American who — among hundreds of other girls — got hired to work at her dream magazine, Vinyl, as the assistant to editor-in-chief Loretta James. While the job seems to be any girl’s dream, Noora finds herself in a The Devil Wears Prada-worthy moment when she discovers that the print and digital teams are at war with one another — and she’s caught in the middle. 

That’s how we meet Noora, the protagonist of Iman Hariri-Kia’s debut novel, A Hundred Other Girls, which debuted on July 26. The novel has been considered one of the best books in July by Apple Books and Good Morning America, and was named one of Barnes & Noble’s August fiction picks. And if you’ve been on #BookTok lately, you probably have noticed that many creators have given A Hundred Other Girls the seal of approval already, including @bumblebeezus, @nina.haines, and @readilybooked, to name a few.

On TikTok, Hariri-Kia shared her journey of publishing her first novel — from when she first got her book deal to the title and cover reveal. The debut author even documented when she first held her novel, when she first signed a book, her book launch at The Strand in New York City, and when her book was finally released

Before being a published author, Hariri-Kia worked in media as a journalist, and her words can be found in Teen Vogue, Man Repeller, Elite Daily, Bustle, and Vogue. She was also the Deputy Editor of Her Campus and, if you’d like, you can find her advice on how to soft launch your relationship, how to deal with summer FOMO, and how to bring up sex toys with your partner.

Her Campus had the opportunity to catch up with Hariri-Kia following the release of her novel. Read on to hear about her debut novel, entry-level jobs, and, of course, her love of Meg Cabot.

The week of Hariri-Kia’s book release was a dream come true for her eight-year-old self.

We chatted the week of the release of A Hundred Other Girls, which Hariri-Kia called “the craziest week of her life.” She even declared the night of her book launch as her most special night yet — which happened to be when she sold out the event at The Strand in New York City and celebrated the release of her first novel surrounded by family, friends, colleagues, and internet followers.

“I feel like I haven’t fully processed the way that’s been going, I’ve just been moving so quickly. I felt so touched to have all of my favorite people in one room,” she tells Her Campus. 

A Hundred Other Girls was initially named CliqueBait, but Hariri-Kia and her team decided to change the name to allude to one of the more toxic mentalities in work environments everywhere: There are hundreds of other girls, or hundreds of other people, ready to take your place.

Hariri-Kia experienced the worry and imposter syndrome that comes with that mentality firsthand when she worked very competitive jobs, and dreamlike roles, in the media industry. However, her novel isn’t inspired by one work experience specifically. “I wouldn’t say that the book is based on one workspace, one person, one office, or one brand. It’s really an amalgamation of everything I’ve experienced firsthand, everything I’ve heard about secondhand, and all the media news that’s broken,” she explains.

Hariri-Kia continues to tell me that many of Noora’s experiences were also her own, and especially when she first started out in the industry. “There were a few times throughout my career that I would watch something play out in front of me and I would think to myself, Somebody should write this.” After witnessing those “stranger-than-fiction” moments for years, Hariri-Kia decided she was going to be that somebody. “It wasn’t until three years ago that I decided I was going to take a risk and try to be the one to take all of the broken pieces and put them together to create what eventually became A Hundred Other Girls,” Hariri-Kia says.

A Hundred Other Girls is a love letter to New York City.

And if you’ve ever fantasized about wearing a Carrie Bradshaw-inspired outfit on your way to work, or if you’ve ever dreamed of calling a yellow cab in the middle of moving traffic, A Hundred Other Girls is also for you. “As a New Yorker, there’s no way that my first book wouldn’t [be a love letter to New York] because I’m constantly in awe of the city,” Hariri-Kia shares. 

For the novelist, however, loving New York City doesn’t mean shying away from the bad parts about it. 

“I wanted to talk about how much the city has changed over the last decade. I wanted to talk about the neighborhoods that have sort of been demolished and built for white, upper-class people,” Hariri-Kia says. “I just wanted to make sure that there was a light show on all of these different topics, while also honoring that sublimity of New York City being its own living, breathing organism.”

Hariri-Kia’s book has something that she wishes she had growing up: Middle Eastern representation.

As a first-generation Iranian American herself, Hariri-Kia grew up not being able to relate to her peers and desperately tried to fit in — it was challenging to deal with the fact that she was a Middle Eastern girl in a primarily white community. Hariri-Kia read novels by Meg Cabot, though, which made her fall in love with books and connect with characters for the first time ever. “I think the way that [Meg Cabot] writes really resonated with me on multiple levels, not just because her style of writing is similar to mine in terms of pop culture references, slang, and technology,” she says. Her favorite thing about Meg Cabot? The first-person narrative, which makes Hariri-Kia feel like she’s in a group chat with Cabot’s characters. “I’ve always loved that because it makes me feel like I have a real connection or friendship, or sort of solidarity, with her characters.”

In A Hundred Other Girls, Hariri-Kia wanted to ensure that her readers would be able to find themselves in the book, which has so much representation in a non-tokenizing way. “I’ve gotten feedback from readers, especially Middle Eastern, brown, Black, and marginalized readers, that part of the reason they resonated with my work, even before I wrote fiction, is because I sort of wrote about my experiences in a way that was funny and lighthearted,” she explains.

As far as the hundreds of other girls that are ready to take Noora’s dream job? Hariri-Kia says that nobody is like Noora, and she also wants her readers to know that nobody is like them, either. “I want to remind everyone, at the entry-level and at the top-level, that you’re not your job description, you inherently have value as a person. You’re irreplaceable. You don’t need to sacrifice your ethics for any job, and if you do anything with vulnerability, heart, and intention, your people will find you. Your purpose will find you.”

Carolina is a national contributing writer and was formerly a summer and fall 2021 editorial intern at Her Campus. She's a Brazilian journalist and writer, and she's very passionate about TikTok, coffee shops, and Taylor Swift.
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