Friday 20 April 2018

Things Bright & Beautiful
Anbara Salam
Blog Tour

Today I am delighted to be hosting a Q&A with the author of Things Bright and Beautiful, Anbara Salam as part of the Blog Tour. Welcome to Boon's Bookcase!


Hi. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing.


Firstly, please could you tell readers a little about yourself?
Hi! I’m Anbara Salam - I’m the author of Things Bright and Beautiful. I’m British Arab and grew up in London, the oldest of five siblings. Now I live in Oxford and work for an NGO when I’m not writing.


What did you do as a job before becoming a writer?
I still have another job on top of writing! I think it’s quite common for authors to work alongside writing,  it offers much-needed stability. But I wasn’t funded through my studies, so since I was a teenager I’ve always had at least one job, as a (terrible) waitress, a librarian, as a supermarket cashier, and bookseller. I’ve worked in student welfare roles and I’ve done lots of teaching. I’ve had a few terrible gigs as well, like dressing up in an animal costume for a children’s party.


How do you carry out the research for your novels?
I love research! It’s so easy to get carried away and find excuses to spend hours flicking through historical recipes or becoming sidetracked by useless details about buttons. For Things Bright and Beautiful I read missionaries’ diaries from the 1940s and 50s, and as much information as I could find about copra plantations. There are some great resources available online, and I found fantastic archival documents including photographs through Australian library catalogues.


Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
I hate planning. I never make plans or scene lists or anything until after I’ve written a draft. And then I have to spend ages unpicking all the mess I’ve made and wrestle it into order.


What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
I write in the evenings and weekends. My partner is also a writer so we often work together and squabble about edits. I was given an iPad mini as a gift about four years ago and I use it for absolutely everything, even novel writing! I have a bluetooth keyboard and just type straight in to a word document that autosaves as I go along.


When you're not writing, what do you like to read?
I’m quite greedy when it comes to books and I’ll read almost anything, including lots of non-fiction. I’ve come embarrassingly late to Celeste Ng and only just recently read Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You, both of which I absolutely loved.


Could you tell the readers a bit about your latest book?
Things Bright and Beautiful is set in 1954, and follows the story of Max, a missionary, and his wife Beatriz in their move to a remote island in the South Pacific. When they arrive in their new home, they discover the village is under the influence of a local preacher who believes women are susceptible to demons lurking in the rainforest. When the former missionary suddenly returns to the village, the pressure on Max and Bea’s marriage builds to some sinister consequences.


Which of your characters would you most like to be and why?
Honestly I’m not sure I’d like to be any of my characters, although I admire the practical know-how of Santra, a teenage girl who lives in a tiny village in the centre of the island.


Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.

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