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.
I was born in the north of England and admire the novels of the Brontë sisters. I sing in a choir, have sung with the Messiah choir at the Sydney Opera House and with an International choir in 2017 at Carnegie Hall in New York—what a buzz!
I visited Iran for the first time in 2014 to refine my research for The Afghan Wife, to be published in November 2017 by Odyssey Books: odyssey books.com.au I loved the heritage sites, the beauty of the Persian gardens and the friendly people in Iran.
At the moment I’m working on a sequel to The Afghan Wife in which Zahra, and her son leave Iran forever but Zahra cannot escape her past.
I can still speak Turkish and my third novel, working title: The End of the Season will be set in Turkey. So I’ll have to pack my bags and get on the road again—for research of course.