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'Writing Allows You To Travel In Your Head'

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Tell us a bit about yourself...
I grew up in Finland but moved to the UK when I was 19. I studied there and achieved B.A. and M.A. in arts.

I have been writing for newspapers and magazines since I was 18. But my full time journalism job was with where I worked as a tech reporter. After that I have worked for various global media outlets — including the Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera.

Why this book? And why should a reader pick up this book?
Most war novels are written by men for men but hold little interest to women. These male war writers take their war stuff far too seriously with all the macho arms lingo when women readers want to read about hot men in uniforms instead. I wanted to write a book about Afghanistan but in an accessible way to women in particular. And add humour to sometimes surreal situations that occur to you when you are covering a story. Mixing genres was also important since I thought combining romance, adventure and sex all set in Afghanistan would make a great read. Anyone who likes fast paced adventure novels and/or chick lit will enjoy it.

What does the book mean to you?
I loved writing it. For the first time in my life, I was allowed to make stuff up without being told off. Seriously speaking, I wanted to create a character to show readers that you can be fearless, focused but at the same time vulnerable and on the look out for lasting love. It was so much fun to write Anna Sanderson as she is a mad but lovable.

How difficult was it to put the book together?
It was surprisingly easy because story was in my head already since I had lived in Kabul as a single girl. The hard part was all the editing work — not just for the fabulous Trisha Bora from Random House who did a sterling job — but doing your own edits.

As a writer you have to be quite ruthless about your work and kill scenes that you may have spent ages plotting. Writing the intimate scenes was also tricky so that they don’t read too cheesy and artificial.

Tell us a bit about your writing. When and where do you write?
I started the book when I was living in Kabul but didn’t do anything about it until someone who worked in publishing encouraged me to go for it. The bulk of the writing took place when I was heavily pregnant and after my daughter was born because I was homebound — something which I was not used to. I also wrote the final scenes on an island in Cambodia.

I am a disciplined writer and don’t need to wait for an inspiration because as a journalist you are used to producing a lot of words every day. I set myself deadlines, for example, this week I have to write 5,000 words or such and such scene.

Where all did this book take you?
I love Afghanistan and its people. The lovely thing about writing a book is that it allows you to travel in your head wherever you want and share those adventures with readers.

What’s your energy drink?
Any kind of coffee. Latte, black coffee, americano, iced coffee. As long as it’s not Nescafe. I adore Indian ground coffee Monsoon Malabar blend.

What's the hardest thing about being a writer?
Working alone, especially if you are a chatty person. Talking to yourself all the time is so boring.

What are you reading now?
Crime novel by Reijo Maki in Finnish

So, what’s next?
I am plotting more adventures for Anna Sanderson, she is such a fun character. Watch this space.

bussinessworldbooks (at) gmail (dot) com