I've been a nomad from the age of six-months, when my parents packed me and our Siamese cat into an old Renault and set off for a remote gold-mining town in Australia's Nullarbor desert. Since then I've circumnavigated the globe many times. As a foreign correspondent, I reported from some of the globe's most intriguing and dangerous places for renowned broadcasters such as the BBC, NPR, and the ABC.
In early 2002, I moved to Baghdad, where my husband worked with UNICEF. At the time, the dictator Saddam Hussein was in power, the country was isolated from therest of the world., and its people were suffering. Foreign journalists were banned from Iraq, so I temporarily put away my reporter’s notebook. Doing otherwise would have led to immediate imprisonment, or worse, for me and for anyone I interviewed.
Still, the regime was watching. In fact, one of my closest Iraqi friends was an informant for Saddam’s secret police, and reported back on my every move. I don’t blame her - few could refuse orders from the dreaded secret police. Still, I never stopped wondering, had we been friends, despite this, or was it just a job for her? That question formed the starting point for my novel, ‘When the Apricots Bloom’.
After the fall of the Saddam regime, I returned to journalism, and eventually I moved into aid work. Now I juggle novel writing with projects that fight poverty in the developing world - and like so many parents across the world, homeschool my two tweens while the COVID-19 lockdown is in place.