News and Interviews

Sahar Golshan Encourages Readers to be SO LOUD! in Her Debut Picture Book


So Loud! by Sahar Golshan banner - Image of author to right of banner, young woman with long dark hair and patterned shirt smiling and standing in front of a stone wall with trees above. To the left a solid section of dark red with text overlaid and Open Book logo.

It's as important as ever for some voices to be heard, especially as there are those who are actively trying to dull or silence them. And, it takes a unique and gifted author to tell a story that will reach young readers, and encourage them to find their voice and the space for it.

As a child, author Sahar Golshan was told she was "too loud!" She became ashamed about the volume of her voice and how it was heard by others, and tried to be quiet to better fit in. Now, with the knowledge that this is common for many feminine and gender non-conforming people, she has written a picture book about how important it is to be heard, and to be proud of your voice. 

Her debut picture book, So Loud! (Annick Press), shares this message with aplomb. Paired with beautiful, lively illustrations by Shiva Delsooz, readers follow Rudābeh (Rudy), a young Iranian-Canadian girl who is often told to quiet down, especially when her grandmother comes to visit from overseas. But, in listening closely to the vibrant sounds of the world around her, Rudy explores the range of her voice again, and discovers the joy in being SO LOUD!

We're very happy to turn up the volume in this Kid's Club Books for Young People Interview with the author:


Open Book: 

Tell us about your new book and how it came to be.

Sahar Golshan:

So Loud! is a picture book about the joy and power of celebrating your voice. It’s a double debut: my first book as an author and the first book illustrated by artist Shiva Delsooz. It was released on the first day of spring of 2024 with Annick Press.

It’s a sound-based book about a girl named Rudābeh. Rudy has a high volume voice that makes her feel proud. But people tell her being loud isn’t such a good thing. So Loud! is the story of finding the power in her fulsome expression.

In July 2020, author Mahak Jain facilitated an online workshop for racialised writers who were curious about picture book writing. The earliest idea for So Loud! hatched in this workshop. I have come to the picture book world as someone who has primarily written stories for adult readers, so initially I didn’t think my idea would turn into a book.

A year and many months later, I had a conversation with author Nadia L. Hohn and she encouraged me to apply for the mentorship program that Annick Press runs to support writers who have been traditionally on the margins in children’s book publishing.

I was in a very busy season of life, so I almost didn’t apply. Still, something propelled me to write the first draft of So Loud! and submit it to Annick’s mentorship program. I am so glad I did because I got to work with superstar editors Khary Mathurin and Claire Caldwell for three months on multiple drafts of So Loud!

At the end of the mentorship, Khary and Claire pitched the book to the team at Annick and the rest is So Loud! history.

Sahar Golshan (Photo by Dinaly Tran) - Image of young woman with long dark hair and patterned shirt smiling and standing in front of a stone wall with trees above.

Sahar Golshan (Photo by Dinaly Tran)


Did the book look the same in the end as your originally envisioned it when you started working, or did it change through the writing process?


The original title for the book was Too Loud! This was the title for a long time actually. Later in the editing phase, I received the suggestion that the title become So Loud! I will admit, I was resistant at first. I had gotten really attached to the first title. “Too loud!” is a label that I have heard a lot about my own voice. 

In thinking it over, the two-letter word “so” conveys the awe and appreciation for a voice that can reach such high decibels. Paired together with the word “loud” it conveys a celebration, an indication that a sound is marvelous. In fact, “So loud!” is how the book’s protagonist, Rudy, declaratively describes her volume.

The word “too” on the other hand conveys an undesirable excess. Paired with the word “loud” it is a criticism that so many feminine and gender non-confirming people hear about their voices. “Too loud!” is not Rudy’s phrasing, but rather it’s how other people conceive of her voice. The term leaves her with an overwhelming sense of shame that leads to self-censure.

I feel very passionate about this title shift now, so much so that I got to speak about it with writing students. I am still truly enraptured by how one subtle word change from “too” to “so” can make such a palpable change to a narrative. This process also has me contemplating the great importance of titles as framing devices. 

So Loud! is about power and how it can be channeled through our voices. I love centering the vitality of Rudy’s loudness, and not the criticisms she receives from others.


Is there a character in your book that you relate to? If so, in what ways are you similar to your character and in what ways are you different?


I deeply relate to the main character Rudy and her dynamically loud, but sometimes quiet, voice. Growing up, I had a roaring voice that filled the entire room. I was told by the people around me that it wasn’t acceptable for a girl to speak so loudly. This led me to feel like being who I was wasn’t “normal.” I felt ashamed of my volume. Those words resulted in me turning my voice down. Sadly, I have learned that this is a very common experience that many feminine and gender non-conforming people have faced in childhood and beyond. That’s why I wanted to write a story that celebrates the power of speaking up. I hope it encourages girls and gender diverse children use their voices proudly, even if other people tell them to be quiet.


What was the strangest or most memorable moment or experience during the writing process for you?


During the period of writing and editing So Loud! I sat around a fire with my mother. I learned that she had a vivid memory of sitting at home both dreaming and wondering about what it would be like to write books for children. Someone created this she thought. 

I’m sad she hasn’t been given the opportunity to pursue this ambition. I also feel lucky to learn this about her through my writing process. I can really feel from my mother’s story that it’s a profound privilege to get to write stories. 

There are two dedications in the book and one is to my mother who grew up in a bookstore in Vietnam.

So Loud! by Sahar Golshan - Image of book cover, young cartoon girl upside down with hair sticking out and yelling, speech bubble reading SO LOUD! below, all over yellow background.

So Loud! by Sahar Golshan, Illustrated by Shiva Delsooz


Do you feel like there are any misconceptions about writing for young people? What do you wish people knew about what you do?


When I have mentioned that I wrote a picture book, I have noticed that some people will respond by saying how cute. I wholly treasure cuteness as an aesthetic and concept. Still, I can sense in the tone that there is some infantilizing in this notion.  

While many stories written with children in mind are cute, they also contain so much more. Like so many of its picture book companions, I believe that So Loud! is both seriously “cute” and seriously themed.

I was writing the book during the beginning of the Women Life Freedom movement in Iran. This uprising has been prompted by the murder of a young Kurdish-Iranian women named Mahsa Jina Amini. Mahsa was killed for undermining a law requiring her to cover her hair in public.

Iranian women are known for always defending their rights, even in the face of oppression. In fact, the main character of So Loud! finds out from her grandmother that Iranian women are boldly referred to as shir zan or “lion woman” because of their loud voices.

So Loud! is both inspired and dedicated to the women and gender diverse people of Iran. I call them “the loud ones” as they fight for their collective freedom at great risk. When these lion women speak up, it makes it safer for other women to live and survive under the dictatorial Islamic Republic.

This book is not just about a kid who has a loud voice, but the importance of expressing yourself even if you fear the consequences.

In this time of ongoing genocide in Gaza many of us are compelled to speak up even if we know that some people will not be pleased by us sounding the alarm on violence.


How, if at all, does social media feature in your writing process?


Social media was not part of the process of writing So Loud! but it’s been a special aspect of my publication process. 

Just like my protagonist Rudy, I have been taking up space by telling my community about So Loud!  Specifically, I’ve been using my voice in digital spaces to celebrate the book’s arrival. 

Around the time my book deal was announced, I made an Instagram account for the first time. Shortly after, my friend Fiona Raye Clarke gifted me with a pillowcase with all the names of many of the writers who impacted my writing process. The pillowcase resembles an old school library borrowing card and featuring it on social media has given me the opportunity to show gratitude to all the writers before me who have made my book journey possible.

I am also noticing and greatly appreciating how a lot of writers in Canada are using their social media platforms to speak out against the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Like the protagonist in So Loud! learns, it takes courage to speak up. Our voices matter. 


What's your favourite part of the life cycle of a book? The inspiration, writing the first draft, revision, the editorial relationship, promotion and discussing the book, or something else altogether? What's the toughest part?


One of my favourite parts of the life cycle of So Loud! was its blossoming season: what I call the editing and revision process. I felt very seen and cared for in this phase. My circumstance was unique because I was closely supported by two editors through an in-house mentorship program at Annick Press that took place months before the book offer occurred.

From the beginning of the process, my editors told me how much the protagonist’s story meant to them. This affirmation was a major north star that helped guide me when I was frustrated by the revision process, which took place in numerous iterations. 

I am a very enthusiastic drafter. I love the rush of new images and dialogue, but find I struggle in the editing and revision process. I admittedly find it tedious! I also primarily write creative non-fiction, so dabbling in a fictive story held a lot of learning. Moreover, it was the first time I had written a book with children in mind. Given the economic word count of a picture book, I was also developing a sense of how to receive feedback on a manuscript and then implement a meaningful change in just one or two sentences! 

Throughout, my editors and I had fun and challenging discussions, including about the trope of the diasporic grandmother in picture books. I later wrote about how magical and vital diasporic grandparents are in a Picture Books Eh! blog about So Loud!  

I appreciate how collaborative and author-centred the editing and revision process was. Big shoutouts to my editors Khary and Claire!


Sahar Golshan is a writer based in Mississauga, Ontario. She is the 2022 winner of the Marina Nemat Award for Creative Writing in Non-Fiction and received the 2019 Air Canada Short Film Award for her short documentary KAR.

Shiva Delsooz is an Iranian-Canadian children's book illustrator living in Ontario, Canada. She has always had a passion for drawing, as her mother can confirm by all the little doodles underneath her dining room table.

Buy the Book

So Loud!

A fun and touching debut that explores the power of finding your voice.

Rudābeh (Rudy for short) loves to talk, sing, jump and shout. There’s just one problem: the adults in her life are always telling her that she is SO LOUD. When her grandmother (Māmān Bozorg) visits from Iran for the first time, Rudy worries that she might be too loud for her. But as she tries to be quieter, Rudy starts to feel less and less like herself. Listening closely to the many sounds in her world—from husky howls and streetcar chimes to Māmān Bozorg’s roaring sneezes—Rudy tries to figure out the full range of her own voice, discovering along the way the joy in being loud.

With exuberant illustrations by Shiva Delsooz, this charming story will resonate with readers who love to make noise and are still learning where and when to take up space.