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Author Interview – Nick Osborne

What genre are you most comfortable writing? Drama – it is why I am writing novels and TV nowadays. In features dramas are just incredibly hard to get made and my hat goes off to everyone who manages to do it.

At the same time I always like to add a certain thriller aspect to my writing – by that I mean, having a good villain or plot that places the hero in danger. In Refuge the book came alive when Noor was faced with the prospect that Tariq, her brother, would go to the ends of the world if need be to marry her off to his patron, the Saudi Prince.

What inspired you to write your first book? In 1991, at the age of eighteen, I went to work in Peshawar, Pakistan as a teacher. Initially I was only meant to work in a Pakistani children’s school but within a month I also had a job teaching adult Afghan refugees English.

The experience has forever stayed with me. It was one of the hardest, most exhilarating, most disheartening and most soul uplifting times in my life. I still cannot believe how young I was, this privileged Westerner suddenly thrust into this conservative Islamic world where nearly every man carried a gun, a war was raging only miles away, and almost every woman wore a burqa.

My students were my inspiration. The refugees were men who had endured terrible hardships and in some cases unbelievable tragedy yet they smiled, had hope and were ever thankful for the work I did. They made me realize that whatever horrors are thrust at people, the human spirit remains unbowed.
On the flip side, I saw the brutality of man, both humanity’s evil and its indifference.

I was also affected by the plight of the women. If the men had it hard then they had it a hundred times worse. Having a daughter of my own inspired me to write Noor as strong as possible – to have her dreams and aspirations be ones that not only my daughter should have the ability to aspire to but all daughters should.

People asks me whether Charlie is really based on myself or was inspired by my own story. First I never had a love affair with an Afghan refugee and while Charlie may have had aspects to my character when I first started writing the book by the end we shared way fewer characteristics.

If there is anyone I aspire to in the novel it is Aamir Khan. He is the father I want to be to my daughter.
I saw a quote the other day from Shabana Basij-Rasikh, an inspirational Afgahn teacher who had an equally inspirational Afghan father. She said “Behind most of us who succeed [in Afghanistan] is a father who recognizes the value in his daughter and who sees her success as his success”. I think all fathers, be they in Afghanistan or the United States, should do the same.
Do you intend to make writing a career?
Yes, in fact a year and a half ago, I took a big swing and decided to dedicate myself to it. For the last 16 years I have worked in Hollywood, first as a film production executive, then a film producer. Yet deep down I always yearned to write. I realized you could only be taken seriously as a writer if you announced to the world that it was your primary occupation, not some hobby, something you did on the side. So that’s what I did. I sold my company and set to it. So far I feel very blessed. I have just sold my first pilot script to a network and Refuge continues to sell well and gain fans.

How did you come up with the title? 
Titles are never easy. Nearly all of them seem dumb at the time of conception. In fact I remember reading Sol Stein’s book on writing and him saying that at one point William Faulkner wanted to call a book of his Twilight and who would ever buy a book with such a title.

I settled on Refuge because that is what Charlie provides for Noor, Bushra and Aamir Khan – a place in his home where they can feel safe. However on another level both Charlie and Noor provide a refuge for the others emotion – a place where each of them can feel safe, where they can be honest with each other and talk about things they have long held secret.

Why did you choose to write this particular book?
 I first started sketching out the story for Refuge in November 2006. (As I sit here writing this I have to pause – six years – bloody hell!)
I had an urge to write a love story, and if I could be so bold, a classic love story. It wasn’t that I thought I could ever write something on the level of a Charlotte Bronte, Leo Tolstoy or Louis de Bernieres, I doubted anything I wrote would even exist within their shadows, however those were the novels I always loved the most – grand, sweeping, romantic epics - Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Love In The Time of Cholera, Corelli’s Mandolin, Anna Karenina- novels which had an intense central love story but which at their core were about so much more. So being utterly foolhardy that was the perilous journey I decided to take.

I wasn’t a writer, I was a film producer, and I think much of the urge to write a novel came from the frustrations of being a producer. That topic, in of itself, deserves a post all of its own, but it’s suffice to say that a film producer at the end of the day is creatively subservient to both the director and studio. Most frustrating of all your influence over the project only diminishes the further along it progresses. “Why didn’t you write a screenplay?” some people have asked me and the answer’s simple. Film writers lose control over their work even quicker than film producers. No, only a novel would allow me complete creative control from start to finish.

And so then the question was what was my story going to be about? Some wag once said that writers spend the whole of their lives writing about their twenties and to a certain extent I agree. It’s the time when you’re most idealistic and adventurous, the time that leaves the most lasting impression on you and if there was an event that had a lasting impression on me it was the twelve months I spent working in Peshawar, Pakistan (though technically I was only 18 / 19 at the time). The added advantage was that it took note of that age old admonition to “write what you know” and while I had never had a passionate affair with an Afghan refugee I did know that world and that culture intimately.
So that’s how it all began. I quickly fixed upon the characters of Charlie and Noor – a young, confident American aid worker and a fiercely independent Afghan refugee – and within a couple of months I had the whole story laid out in treatment form. It would take me another two and a half years to finish the first draft.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Literary Fiction / Romance

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

Connect with NG Osborne on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.ngosborne.com/

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