Today I’m very pleased to welcome Annika Milisic Stanley. Annika’s Book The Disobedient Wife was published by Cinnamon Press on 9th November 2015 and you can order a copy here: The Disobedient Wife She very kindly gave a copy of her book for one of my giveaways this week which you can still enter up to midnght tonight – details here: The Disobedient Wife Giveaway
First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
I live in Rome, Italy where I write fiction, work as a freelance editor and volunteer as an English teacher and fundraiser for a refugee centre (Joel Nafuma Refugee Centre: www.jnrc.it). I have three young children. I am British but have lived overseas for most of my working life as a Social Anthropologist/ Programme Coordinator working with refugees, food security, women and development, public and reproductive health. I have lived in many different countries in Africa and Asia.
What inspired you to start writing?
I started writing short stories and vignettes in my early twenties as a pressure valve when I found myself working in dangerous places or in situations beyond my control. I now use some of these stories to inspire longer novels.
Tell me about your journey to publication
I was lucky – after finishing the book, I sent it to literary agents. Two were interested – one actually read the entire manuscript and gave me great editorial feedback – but it didn’t come to anything.
I decided to send it off to literary competitions. I won a novel writing competition for unpublished authors with Cinnamon Press in November 2014. The prize was £1000 and publication a year later, a wonderful experience.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
‘The Disobedient Wife’ is set in Tajikistan, a former State of the USSR in Central Asia. It charts the intertwined narratives of two women from different backgrounds and cultures (a British diplomat’s wife, and her local maid). They come together to support each other against a backdrop of violence and betrayal. It is about the impact of the Soviet collapse on women, as traditional culture and criminality fill the cultural/ economic vacuum that the Soviets left behind. It is also about life as a Trailing Spouse – a person constantly on the move – and how the British protagonist finds herself again.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Chatting one day with a friend who works in PR and Journalism, I told her that I was tied up over the title. She said, ‘it’s about women who disobey the rules? What about ‘The Disobedient Wife’? I thought it was a great title.
How do you plan to celebrate/did you celebrate publication day?
I celebrated by opening a big bottle of Prosecco with my neighbours here in Rome.
When the books arrived at my house, it was an incredible feeling. I wrote about it on my blog: http://thedisobedientauthor.com/2015/10/ entitled, ‘A Book is Born’.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Yes. I am rewriting and polishing a book with the working title ‘Queen of Refugees’. It is about a young, wealthy, African teenager fleeing ethnic cleansing. She is conflicted, with a split identity; parents from both sides of a war. She becomes a refugee, first in a camp in the desert, and then in Europe. I like strong female protagonists and stories that grip the reader with hooks, twists and happy endings. That is all I will say about it!
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
I just finished ‘The Color of Water’, a memoir by James McBride about growing up African-American with a Jewish, white mother in the 1970s. It was very moving. I recommend it.
I also recently read ‘Saturday’ by Ian McEwan. This is a fantastically crafted book with a masterly use of characterisation, tension and story structure. At the end, I couldn’t believe that the whole book took place over only one day.
Another great book I recently read and I recommend is ‘The thing around your neck’, a book of short stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
What are you reading just now?
(Right now, in January 2016), I am reading a book about a girls school in 1970s Rwanda, ’Our Lady of the Nile’ by Scholastique Mukasonga. It is chilling. I have no doubt that it draws on her own experiences as a young girl.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
Book. I love paperbacks. I have quite a collection. Evening.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I have a Facebook page for the book: www.facebook.com/MilisicStanley
I also have a blog: www.thedisobedientauthor.com
I am on twitter: @MilisicStanley
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Why? She gets Mr Darcy of course!