Published by HQ/Harper Collins
Ebook and Paperback : 21 September 2017
I’m delighted to welcome Annabel Kantaria to the blog with a guest post for the blog tour. When I was invited to take part and to suggest a topic, I asked if Annabel could write about her life in Dubai and whether the challenges of being a journalist/author there are any different to those she would face in the UK.
by Annabel Kantaria
You moved to Dubai in 1998. What made you do it?
For adventure, warmth and sunshine. To be able to wake up almost every single day and see bright blue sky is my idea of heaven. I’ve been here all these years, and the novelty of wall-to-wall blue sky still hasn’t worn off.
Were you an author back then?
No, I was a journalist. To be fair, I did have a bit of a pipe dream of me sitting facing a gorgeous swimming pool as I wrote a string of best-sellers in the sunshine, but the reality at that stage was far from the dream: I was a magazine editor, working ten-hour days that left me so drained that the idea that I might be able to write something creative when I got home was about as realistic as a chocolate sun-lounger.
How did you make the move from journalist to author?
Over the years, I left my job, started freelancing, had children and finally found it possible to claw some time for myself to start writing fiction. In 2013, I won the Montegrappa Prize for First Fiction at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, and this ultimately resulted in me gaining both an agent and a publisher, and taking the step to become a full-time author.
Are the challenges of being a journalist / author in Dubai any different to those you would face in the UK?
I imagine that the challenges of writing fiction are the same no matter where you live so working as an author in Dubai can’t be so terribly different to working as an author in the UK. For me, the biggest issue of living abroad is FOMO – fear of missing out. Social media lets us all see what others are up to, and I look wistfully at pictures of the book launches, signings, parties and literary gatherings back home that pop up on my various feeds, and wish I could have been there. I also miss being able to have face-to-face meetings with my agent and editor. It’s true they’re always there at the end of an email, and I fly back and forth as much as I can, but I’d love to be able to have the odd lunch with them to brainstorm ideas without having to jump on a plane.
Are there any particular advantages to working as an author in Dubai?
Because Dubai is a much smaller market than the UK, it’s easier to publicise yourself. I’ve had the chance to do far more television and radio than I would have been able to do in the UK, which is great.
I’ve also got to do some amazing things. Last year, for example, I was invited to sit on an advisory panel for HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who wanted ideas on how to get people reading more books. I was invited to his stud farm to brainstorm with some seriously clever people, then he flew in in a helicopter to hear our ideas himself. I honestly can’t imagine being invited to do that for the Queen or Prime Minister in the UK!
Dubai’s also home to the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which last year alone brought 180 international authors to the city. Through the festival I’ve taken part in some great writing workshops and met some wonderful authors. It’s just two weeks a year, though – I wish it was every month!
What advice do you have for budding authors?
Try to get into the habit of writing something every day, no matter how little it is and no matter how rubbish you think it is. They say the writing is like a muscle – it has to be exercised – and I think it’s very true. But also, if you’re trying to write a book, you’ll be surprised how quickly 500 words a day turns into a full manuscript.
About the book:
Everyone has one. An ex you still think about. The one who makes you ask ‘what if’?
Fifteen years have passed since Stella and George last saw each other. But something makes Stella click ‘yes’ to the invite to her school reunion.
There’s still a spark between them, and although their relationship ended badly, they begin an affair.
But once someone gets you back, sometimes they’re never going to let you go again…
About the author:
Annabel Kantaria is a British journalist who now lives in Dubai with her husband and children. She has edited and contributed to women’s magazines and publications throughout the Middle East and returns regularly to the UK.