Book Club

6 takeaways from the ‘Dead Flip’ discussion with author Sara Farizan

"I hope readers of all ages enjoy it, but especially young people," the author said. 

Author Sara Faizan joined Book Club to discuss her new novel, "Dead Flip."

Author Sara Farizan turns to writing as an escape from the realities of the world, and for her, there’s no better genre to escape into than a supernatural horror comedy. 

In her new novel, a group of Massachusetts teens is thrown into a mysterious adventure when their former best friend reappears after going missing five years prior, still the same age as he was when he vanished. The book is both chilling and funny as it explores themes of friendship, identity, and nostalgia.

“I think horror and comedy are really two sides of the same coin. You need timing, you need the setup. You need to have the release, make sure that you know people feel something,” she said. “They really go hand in hand.”


The Book Club was recently joined by Farizan for a conversation about her new novel, moderated by Caleb Seaver, a bookseller at Titcomb’s Bookshop in East Sandwich. Read ahead for takeaways from their discussion, and get more Book Club updates here.

“Dead Flip” is an homage to the 1980s and 90s.

Farizan wanted to write a book that would capture the nostalgia she has as a product of the 1980s and early 90s. Her biggest inspiration for the novel was movies and television from that era like “Christine” (1983), “The Goonies” (1985), and “Gremlins” (1984). Pinball machines — which she still plays at arcades and gaming cafés across Massachusetts — are a key part of the story’s central conflict, and the characters reference all the things Farizan loved when she was in her tween and teen years. 

While she loved including those elements in the story, Farizan said she also wants readers to examine the limitations of nostalgia. 

“[The book] has a lot of nostalgia in it, which is bittersweet,” she said. “Nostalgia is great in that it’s fun and it’s a lot of my hobbies and interests but also nostalgia can be not so great, because you might remember the good old days, but who were those days good for? There’s a deceptive way that nostalgia can paint things and erode a reality.”

Young adult fiction isn’t just for teens.

The book focuses on a group of friends first at the age of 12 and later in the months before they graduate high school, but the writer said the story can make an impact no matter the age of the reader. Farizan said she’s heard from readers in their 30s, 40s, and 50s who’ve enjoyed the book. She enjoys writing for young people, especially in the horror comedy genre, because it can serve as a metaphor for life’s heavier topics. 


“It’s very subversive that you can talk about other things while having the fun adventure. So it was just a great joy and I’m so pleased to have it out in the world. I hope readers of all ages enjoy it, but especially young people,” the writer said. 

Representation in young adult fiction matters.

Farizan included bits of her own identity in many of the characters in the novel. One of the main characters is a closeted lesbian, just as the author was when she was in high school and another shares her Iranian American identity. 

“You put yourself in all characters even if they’re not like you because you have to come up with them. They might be amalgamations of other people. They might be based on tropes and other books or what have you, but I think they all represent me in certain ways.”

She added that these characters were especially important given the lack of representation in many of the biggest media hits of the time. 

“I think there were lots of different kids in the 80s and 90s who were not [represented] then. It’s nice to see all different types of people in media now because that’s the world we live in,” Farizan said.  

Revision is an important part of the writing process. 

The initial draft of this novel included a character who doesn’t appear at all in the version on bookstore shelves today. Farizan said she worked on this novel for three years and saw her characters evolve throughout the different drafts. 


“I realized in that [first] draft there were things that were working and a lot of the characters that were working but it wasn’t servicing the story of the three amigos, the three musketeers,” she said. 

Looking ahead, she said she would love to add to the story with a sequel: “Dead Flip 2: Flipped Out.”

Fans of “Stranger Things” will love this book.

This book has been described by several reviewers as a “Stranger Things” set in the 1990s, a comparison Farizan said she welcomes. 

“I’m okay with the comparison because that show has been so successful,” she said. “It would be such an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as that show.”

But even if you aren’t a fan of the Netflix show, Farizan said you should still give “Dead Flip” a read. 

“The tropes I’m playing with are different. It’s not quite the same and I think there are people who are not fans of the show who might get a kick out of it,” she said. 

Despite the nostalgia, Farizan is happy to stay in the present. 

When asked if she would rather go back in time to the 1980s or 90s, Farizan said she’d choose to stay right here in 2022. Despite her continued love of the pop culture of her adolescence, she thinks it’s important to stay rooted in the current moment, a theme that’s central to the story she’s crafted in “Dead Flip.”


“Being present is really important and hopefully that’s a message of the book,” she said. “You can’t really go back again. Your friends are your friends and you can be true to yourself but you can’t really turn back time.”