As I continue to pursue my passion for writing, I’ve been wondering: who are some of my favorite authors’ role models? What influenced their work? Do they have a go-to recipe that connects them back to the country they wrote about?
Hopefully, by featuring Inspirational Authors, you’ll have more books to add to your reading list. Perhaps they will also inspire you.
The first author that came to my mind was award-winning novelist Zoë Ferraris. I’m incredibly grateful that she would take the time to share a little bit of her story with us. Her bestselling mystery, Finding Nouf, dives into the complexity of searching for a missing sixteen-year-old girl in the veiled society of Saudi Arabia.
Nayir, a respected desert guide, leads the investigation and quickly suspects that Nouf’s family is hiding the key to her disappearance. Determined to get to the truth, Nayir partners with Katya Hijazi, an independent lab technician who will push Nayir’s beliefs when it comes to his religious principles.
The result is a spellbinding maze of love and disenchantment set in one of the most sacred destinations in the world. In a time where gender discrimination is a normality, Nayir and Katya must work as equals to find justice for Nouf.
Not only is Finding Nouf beautifully written, but it also opens the door to a country and culture I knew little about. So, how did Zoë Ferraris unlock the mysteries of a closed society in Saudi Arabia? I couldn’t wait to find out.
Where did your inspiration come from when writing Finding Nouf?
From Saudi Arabia, mostly, and my experiences there. I went there thinking that women were so oppressed and I came away with a more nuanced understanding of gender segregation. It is in many ways absolutely terrible for women, but I was surprised by how much men are frustrated by it as well – I’m thinking of you, young men who are looking for love.
Who influences your style of writing?
I’ve been a huge fan of mysteries since I was a teenager. I’d say in the past that the writing of Elizabeth George, Margaret Atwood and Amy Tan played a role in shaping my style. These days I enjoy Kate Atkinson, Tana French and Donna Tartt.
What is your favorite sweet from Saudi Arabia?
This is interesting – no one has ever asked me that, but there are hundreds of things to choose from. I love Umm Ali. For those who don’t know, it’s like ultra-rich bread pudding with nuts and coconut. I also add in dates and cinnamon and cream. One million calories to feed an over-taxed writer’s brain.
Do you have a future novel in the works?
I do. I am working on a fourth novel in my Saudi mystery series, featuring Katya and Nayir. It’s a bit darker than the first three, and that’s all I should say.
You can discover more about Zoë Ferraris and her novels at http://zoeferraris.com/.