My inspiration for The Afghan Wife came from the stories my refugee and migrant students told me during my years teaching English in Sydney, Australia. A migrant myself, I empathised with their struggles to put the past behind them and settle in a new country.
I got married very young and in our early twenties my husband and I took the Orient Express from London to Istanbul. It was nothing like the movies! It was still the cold war era and border guards got on in the communist countries and harassed the passengers. When we got to Istanbul we had to find our way to our teaching jobs in a small town on the Black Sea coast. We stayed two years, learned to speak Turkish and I got a first-hand insight into living in a Middle Eastern country where the Azan, the call to prayer, alerts you to the time of day.
In 1975 we packed up our three children and emigrated to Australia. I changed from being a business studies teacher to an English language teacher, studied for a degree in English at Sydney University got a diploma in ESL and a new career. I’ve always loved writing and in what spare time I had, I wrote short pieces for the SMH Good Weekend and when the children got older we started travelling again and I wrote travel articles for airline magazines. I took a break from teaching and worked as a tour guide in Sydney for over five years, then finally settled down to writing my first novel, The Afghan Wife.
My second novel The Revolutionary’s Cousin was published in August 2019. It begins in Iran, which I visited in 2014 to research The Afghan Wife. The protagonists then go to the United States and Australia.
I spent a pleasant month in the USA doing research and checking out the sites I’ve featured in The Revolutionary’ Cousin. While in New York I even sang with an International choir at Carnegie Hall—what a buzz! As I live in Australia, I enjoyed describing our wonderful beaches as well as the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay.
Please check out my blog on this site. I’ve written about how Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre influenced The Revolutionary’s Cousin.
Eventually, I want to write a novel about Turkey—I can still speak Turkish. At the moment though, I’m working on a novel set in the UK, where I was born and Australia, where I live. Its working title is Unaccompanied Baggage.
Looks like I’ll have to pack my bags and get on the road again!