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Q&A with Sonia Faleiro

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Sonia FaleiroWhen Indian journalist Sonia Faleiro first met Mumbai dance bar girl Leela she couldn’t have imagined that five years later their experiences would lead to the creation of a critically acclaimed account of the young dancer’s life on the wrong side of the tracks. Curiousbookfans loved her book, Beautiful Thing – Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars and wanted to know more about Faleiro and her book. And if you’d like to know more too, we have three copies of Beautiful Thing to give away this month – check out the Forum for more details.

CBF:It seems like the world in which you researched your book is very different from the world you grew up in. How did you make your first contact with Mumbai dance bar culture and gain the trust of people from such a very different world?

Sonia Faleiro: If you’re a reporter in India reporting on marginalized communities for the English media it’s almost certain that your social and economic background, and therefore your life experiences, will be very different from those you write about.

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Q&A with Patrick Bishop

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PATRICK BISHOP PHOTO IAN JONESAt Curious Book Fans we’re always impressed at how far writers will go to research a book but going to war to gather material shows an extreme devotion to both duty and the creative process. Patrick Bishop’s long career as a journalist embedded with the army gives him a unique insight into conflict and has led to his book “Follow Me Home” being hailed as the first great novel of the Afghanistan war. Curious Book Fans, not surprising, wanted to know more.

CBF: Journalism can be a dangerous profession and I can imagine a soldier has lots of useful skills for dealing with the cut and thrust of reporting. What special skills does a journalist bring to life in a war zone?

Patrick Bishop: Nowadays you have to be pretty fit to survive an embed in Afghanistan.

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Q&A with Essie Fox

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Essie Fox, author (The Somnambulist)Essie’s Fox novel set in Victorian London, The Somnambulist, published in May 2011, was quite a treat for fans of historical mysteries.  She started her career as an illustrator and an editorial assistant but now she is becoming a master of Victorian gothic mystery novel. Dividing her time between Windsor and London, she is working on the second novel. After reviewing The Somnambulist we were curious to know more about research and story behind Essie’s literary debut.

CBF: What attracted you to the setting of Victorian England? What do you think is most interesting about that period?

Essie Fox: Oddly enough, when I first started to write I was planning on something contemporary. But every time I began, a character or some ‘item’ from the past would crop up and intrude on the novel’s plot – a letter found under some floorboards, or an antique ornament which had some past significance. Finally, I realised that these were the parts of the story that gave me most ‘excitement’ – and as I’ve always enjoyed reading Victorian novels, whether the old classics or modern day versions, I decided to take the bull by the horns and see if I could do it too.

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Osama Must Die

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Mukul DevaMukul Deva’s ‘Lashkar’ series has many incidences which have later coincidentally appeared in real life. One such uncanny description is how ‘Osama is taken by US forces’ which is part of ‘Salim Must Die’, the book two of the series.

Now that the series is reading more and more like non-fiction, we asked Mukul Deva to give us his views of recent dramatic events and how they are reflected in his books.

CBF: Seriously how did you come up with the idea of the Americans kidnapping Osama? After all, at one level it does constitute an international crime?


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Q&A with Abbas Kazerooni

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Abbas KazerooniOne of the great pleasures of writing for Curious Book Fans is getting the opportunity to indulge your curiosity by carrying out a Q&A with the author of a book you’ve loved or admired. In the case of Abbas Kaazerooni’s book ‘On Two Feet and Wings‘ I knew within the first few pages that when I got to the end I would want to know more. It’s a fascinating and largely autobiographical account of leaving his homeland of Iran when he was just nine years old and having to make his own way in the world, first in Istanbul and later in the UK. As someone who has visited Iran and is fiercely interested in its history and culture, the placing of his story during the Iran-Iraq war meant this was always going to be right up my street. What I didn’t expect was how attached I would become to the young Abbas and how much I’d want to know about the man he has become and the lessons he hopes that people – young and older – will take from his book.

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Q&A with Christie Watson

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Christie Watson, interviewIn her debut novel, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, Christie Watson writes about Nigeria, oil industry, violence. The story is of twelve year old Blessing and survival of family through challenges people face in that corner of the world. The innocence which child’s narration brings into such serious issues makes it an amazing book.
Christie Watson worked as a nurse for over ten years before joining UEA for her MA in Creative Writing, where she won the Malcolm Bradbury Bursary. We were curious to ask her few questions about her first book.

CBF: Firstly, as an introduction to this interview, can you tell us a bit about your own experience with Nigeria, particularly the Niger Delta where Tiny Sunbirds Far Away is mainly set?

Christie Watson: I first travelled to Nigeria over ten years ago after I met my Nigerian partner. I’d travelled to various other African countries before, and parts of West Africa, but nothing quite prepared me for how amazing a place Nigeria is.

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Five Minutes with Oliver Burkeman

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Oliver Burkeman writes for the Guardian and is best known for his column which claims that it will not change your life. He won the Foreign Press Association’s Young Journalist of the Year award, and has been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. Oliver recently published a book Help!: How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done.  He doesn’t claim that he will find who moved your cheese or how to get out of the box during brainstorm. He is on his quest to make us just slightly happier with the help of a simple kitchen timer. Obviously, we were curious to know more.

CBF: You’ve obviously read a mountain of self-help books in your research for this book – can you recommend one or two you consider worth the paper they’re written on and maybe (if it’s not too unprofessional) a couple you’d advise everyone to avoid.

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Q&A with Martin Pevsner

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Martin PevsnerMartin Pevsner recently published his first novel, Divinity Road. Our reviewer praised him as “a writer to put on your watch list if this multi-dimensional tour de force is anything to go by”. koshkha was curious to learn more about stories and thoughts behind the book.
Martin lives and works in Oxford but has spent time in Cameroon, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

CBF: I chose the book because I recognised the reference to the road where part of the story is set. I’d guess that’s not why you chose it though. What was the thinking behind the name?

Martin Pevsner: I had a different name for the novel originally – Companions of the Garden – a reference to the Qur’an. An agent told me people browsing in a bookshop would presume it was a gardening book.

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Q&A with Deborah Harkness

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Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of WitchesDeborah Harkness teaches European history and the history of science at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. During her 28 years long academic career she was especially interested in history of magic and science in Europe between 1500 and 1700. She is passionate about wines and keen wine blogger.

In 2008 she asked herself “if there really are vampires, what do they do for a living?”.

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Alex Marsh talks to Curious Book Fans

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Alex Marsh came a long way from being a member of the unknown and unsuccessful rock band ‘Wildebeeste’ to become a bowler / chicken keeper / househusband in rural Norfolk. He revealed all in his autobiographical book Sex and Bowls and Rock and Roll. The original blurb stated: “He hoped he’d die before he got old. It didn’t quite work out that way.” We were curious to hear more about how he swapped his rock dreams for village greens.

Alex MarshCBF: For a city boy you adapted amazingly well to living in the country. What tips would you offer anyone dreaming of chucking in their job and heading for the rural life? What do you miss most about city life?

Alex Marsh: My main tip would be to try to get a better Plan B together than I did, as my plans really stopped at A, and that probably wasn’t sensible. The thing I miss most?

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Urmilla Deshpande talks to Curious Book Fans

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After reviewing Urmilla Deshpande’s second novel Kashmir Blues we were curious to hear more from the author. Although busy writing her third novel and a book of short fiction at her Tallahassee, Florida home she found time to answer few questions for Curious Book Fans.

Urmilla DeshpandeCBF: How did you suddenly decide on Kashmir as the main setting for this novel? Was it because of the current political crisis?

Urmilla Deshpande: I didn’t suddenly decide on “Kashmir” as the setting. This book was written in 2003-2004, not recently. I was interested in individuals who decide to stand against a power much greater than themselves, such as a government. I didn’t know much about it. The other thing I would like to say is that no matter how closely fiction is based on, or resembles reality or the real world, it is fiction. The Kashmir in my book is no more real, I think, than is the Alexandria in Durrell’s quartet or the London that Sherlock Holmes lives in.

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Michele Gorman talks to Curious Book Fans

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Michele GormanRecently reviewed book Single in the City prompted us to ask few questions about the book and meaning of life in general the author Michele Gorman. She is originally from Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Michele now lives in London and her experiences provoked her to write about what happens when you take one 26 year old American, add to one 2,000 year old city with a big dose of culture clash and stir…

CBF: Is Single in the City in any sense autobiographical since you are also an American living in London?

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