Khakpour: I wanted to write about men in crisis. So Xerxes, the younger protagonist, is at quarter life. And his father is at mid life – almost exactly. And so I also wanted to put them in a time of crisis like the post-9/11 era and examine men under pressure, and look at their conflicts and put . . . you know and examine their conflicts in a larger sense; look at how much global turmoil and historical turmoil has contributed to their interpersonal conflict. It became a kind of thesis for the novel – that sometimes the conflicts of men even in one family weren’t really about their issues, but sometimes about what was going on in the news, or what was going on in history books. I take a lot of pains to examine some of the ancient kings in Persian history, and then merge that with some of the prime characters in sort of 9/11 the story.