Well, what can I say: After 4 1/2 years The Tree of Nine Worlds is now available for purchase!
Thanks to all of my wonderful proofreaders, in particular my editor from Cornerstones, Sandra Glover. Also thank you to my incredible husband-to-be Sean, who kicked my bum into finally getting it published.
Right, it’s been a while again, but just look at what’s been going on over here!!
I’ve started my own freelance business, my first official book finally has a publishing date (June 15, in case anyone’s got summer birthdays coming up – grab yourself a fantastic read or, at worst, a fairly decent doorstop!) – oh and I’ve gotten engaged to the man of my dreams.
Now, dear readers, I know how cheesy that sounds, but it wasn’t always like this. Let me begin with a much overdue update:
Last year, I had a crap time. Most people had no idea, and I still have ‘friends’ who are mad at me because they assumed (thank you Facebook) that I was living the high life, and never bothered to ask me how I was doing.
It was nearly a year ago to date, and I’d been having the most fantastic time. I had a new job I loved, my boyfriend and I had started talking about marriage, one of my best friends and my parents came over to visit. It was all so perfect! And that was exactly the problem. I’ve moved so many times in my young life (I stopped counting when it reached the ‘teens). I’ve had crappy relationships in the past, with people who lied to me about all sorts of petty (and serious) stuff. I’ve had crappy jobs, crappy friends… the whole shebang. By no means did I ever roll myself up into a pity-burrito over any of this, but I was used to things being ever-changing and, well, mediocre.
Not so once I finally started feeling settled in beautiful Scotland.
So my anxiety shot through the roof, and my overactive mind began coming up with all kinds of worst case scenarios. Surely it was too good to be true. What if I screwed this up? After the big move from Canada I just couldn’t cope with it. I spent months being really upset over everything. It sucked, big time.
Anyway, my beautiful fiancé stuck by me and helped me through it, I started my own business, made our flat a lovely wee home, and cooked all sorts of fun dishes – and slowly I got better.
Then, this past March, Sean proposed to me by the beach in St Andrews, after a gorgeous mini-holiday in the Highlands – and despite dreaming of this moment for months and months in an attempt to come up with the most romantic response, I just said yes without hesitating and fell into his arms.
So there you have it. A real life Scottish romance. Oh I still get moments where I wonder whether I’ll wake up in one of my crappier relationships again and it was all a dream, and then I hyperventilate a little until I look over at the handsome face with the sparkling blue eyes (watching football on our telly (he’s still human!) and it’s good. Really good.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathy Cuddihy for the most recent issue of Passion8 magazine (which is fab by the way, you should definitely take a look!) Read the whole interview here, and get inspired by a fantastic writer:
I moved to Saudi Arabia when I was 16, and disliked it the minute I set foot into Jeddah’s dirty airport, where people mistook my dog for a cat, and where I had to wear a long black cloak (abaya) to cover my teenage self. I didn’t like how dull everything looked from the air, with sand as far as the eye could see, and little else. Mind, it didn’t stay that way for long…
But this isn’t about me; this is about author and fellow expat Kathy Cuddihy, who made similar experiences to mine in the 1970’s. Kathy, who grew up in Montreal, and moved to Riyadh in 1976 along with her husband Sean (incidentally also my boyfriend’s name), held the same reluctant feelings about this strange, different country as I once had. She wrote for newspapers and magazines, while there (same as me), and subsequently made lifelong friends, and learned to love the world so few know, same as me.
There is so much to learn from Kathy and her experiences, and I am so thrilled that we share some similarities. Kathy has published seven books since writing her first in 1985 – something I can only strive to do in the future!
I had the chance to chat with Kathy about her work, in the hope that she might share her secrets on how to be a successful author and expat:
What (or who) inspired you to start writing?
My husband Sean has been my strongest support and facilitator. Although I was a technical writer when we first got married, I did no creative writing for our first few years in Saudi. Then, at a brunch we hosted, one of the guests made a number of disparaging remarks about Saudi Arabia and Saudis. This inspired me to submit a tongue-in-cheek article on ethnocentrism to the national newspaper. To my astonishment, they published it immediately and requested more articles. That was the start of my writing career.
Do you have a favourite book that you wrote? If so, why that particular one? (*My guess is Anywhere But Saudi Arabia! – can’t wait to read it!)
As it’s being written, each book is a favourite but ABSA was definitely the most fun to write. It brought back a flood of happy memories of a unique period, exotic location, wonderful friends and great adventures. This book was also special because I had wanted to create a memoir for my children of things they might otherwise forget and of a side of their parents they probably didn’t know about! In the process, I realised I also was recording a fast-fading and generally undocumented history of Riyadh.
Are you currently working on any new books?
Yes. I have 3 on the go at the moment. One is a non-fiction (half finished), one is a competed women’s lit novel waiting for a final polish, and the other is an early-stage murder-mystery. I got into fiction writing a couple of years ago. I absolutely love it… so the non-fiction book might never get completed.
Was there a specific turning point when you when you realized you enjoyed living in Saudi Arabia?
Although I was reluctant to go to Saudi Arabia initially, I remember standing in the parking lot at the airport when I first arrived. Around me were women draped from head to toe in black, men in colourful turbans or other unfamiliar head coverings, men with baggy pants gathered at the ankles or in long, loose thobes. I felt transported back to biblical times. I looked up at the star-lit sky, breathed in the desert air and fell in love with the place. My instinct told me this was going to be the experience of a lifetime!
What do you think are important ingredients in getting the most from an expat experience?
It certainly helps to have a sense of humour. Being a minority member of a foreign culture is not always easy. It’s natural to get frustrated with unfamiliar conventions but if you can learn to view things from the perspective of the host culture, not only will you become more broad-minded, you’ll keep your stress levels down. No matter where you live, it’s always helpful to hang out with positive people.
If you could have dinner with any three famous or historical figures (dead or alive), who would they be and why?
Who to choose? The names that jumped into my head were Benjamin Franklin, Oscar Wilde and William Shakespeare! Why? Because they’re all intelligent men with good senses of humour. We entertain a lot and are always appreciative of guests with these qualities.