What was the last book you read and what are you currently reading?
Believe it or not, The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh at present. Previously, Gould's Book of Fish - Fantastic, magical imagination and an eye-opener into the early days of white settlement in Tasmania.
What inspired you to write a book about refugees?
Encountering these brave, unassuming, incredibly polite, candid kids. I was moved above all by their courage and by the simplicity of their desire to go to school.
What research did you undertake?
Before I knew I was writing the book I went as a reporter to the Greek border with Turkey, to Calais, to Athens and Venice - places along the migration route into Europe. As the novel took shape, I went to some of the places in between - Genoa and back to Nice and back to the places in Paris where I first met and spoke to these brave kids. I also read everything I could on Afghanistan to build up the back story of the boys' lives.
Was it difficult to switch between writing non-fiction and writing fiction?
No - because I'd been writing shorter pieces of fiction, but principally I had a big build up of emotional baggage from meeting these children that I was desperate to channel into some other form, so turning to fiction came as a great relief, a way to externalise all the things I'd been holding that couldn't be contained in journalism. Above all it was a great pleasure to write about these moving kids.
What are you working on next?
I have a few leads for a new novel but haven't decided which one I will stick with to fully develop. But I am dying to get fully involved in the next one.
Hinterland is available here.