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EXCLUSIVE: INTERVIEW WITH ANNA HALABI
Anna Halabi was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. She immigrated to Europe in 1999 to pursue her university studies. She currently lives with her family in Germany.
Syrian Brides is her debut as an author. The stories and characters in this collection are inspired by her personal experiences, as well as those of her relatives and friends.
Q: Can you tell us something about yourself that not many people know about? Like your hobbies?
A.I like making jewelry, earrings in particular and usually upcycling. I buy old necklaces with wooden beads and turn them into earrings. I also like to cut out fancy shapes from old LPs and turn them into earrings.
Q: When did you write your first story and how old were you?
A. I was actually rather old I only started writing when I went to college. My English teacher thought I was horrible at creative writing. Not creative at all, in fact. I think it was because of the topics I had to write about in English Lit class.
Q: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A. I wanted to become an environmental activist. I wanted to save the rain forests and recycle plastic from the ocean. My mother forbade it though, because she thought I couldn’t make a living as a tree hugger. So, I studied computer sciences instead and now I write software during the day and short stories at night.
Q. What inspired you to start writing?
A. I left my hometown, Aleppo, for college when I was 18 years old. The first couple of years in Germany were very rough, being far from home and in a totally different culture. So, I started writing about Syria and the people I once knew as a way of overcoming my homesickness.
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Q: What is your favorite book from your childhood?
A. The Wizard of Oz.
Q: What do you like doing when you're not reading?
A. I like making earrings, writing and spending time with my two-year old son.
Q: Where do you get your writing ideas from?
A. My stories are usually hyperboles of real-life events. Stories I heard from my aunts, who love to gossip, or my friends.
Q: Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
A. My friends and family inspire the characters in my stories.
Q. Can you describe us your ideal writing space?
A. My couch, when my son is tucked in bed and sound asleep and my husband is busy fixing his motorcycle, I sit on the couch, with my feet up on the coffee table and dive into a world of seductive spices, loud laughter and merry music. My thoughts wander off to my beautiful home country,Syria.
Q. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
A. There is so many things I want to write about and so much beauty and sorrow I want to capture, that I sometimes find it hard to find the words to describe them.
Q. How do you handle a writer’s block?
A. I procrastinate. I try to put off writing for as long as I can until my conscience kicks me in the behind and I force myself to write something… and that usually unties the knot in my brain and lets the words flow again.
Q. What advice would you give to a new writer, someone who’s just starting out?
A. Spill out your heart on paper and don’t be afraid to get hurt, because you will… it’s a tough business and you will have to face a lot of criticism and disappointment. But it’s worth it. Feeling the pages of your book in your hands and the kind words of a reader praising your book… they’re worth the trouble!
Q. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
A. Actually, I’m working on my first novel. A sort of autobiography. It is much harder than I expected but it is important for me to write my own story.