1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?
With a degree in civil law, I had been working for big corporations throughout my career. One day, I realized that my love for storytelling was stronger than my intention to pursue a corporate career. So I decided to pursue my dream.
2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?
My favorites have always been Ernst Hemingway, Alexandre Dumas and Leo Tolstoy - but I very much enjoy reading contemporary novels too. Anthony Doerr's All the Lights We Can Not See is simply fantastic.
3. What was the inspiration behind your novel Second Take?
The story is based on real events; however, I didn't want to just tell the story, I wanted to go deeper and explore the most powerful driving forces that dominate people's lives: Love and Fear. I think that predominantly, the largest problem facing society today is fear. People are afraid of really living lives! The thing I see most that that people don't admit their fear. And it has caused many of us to not really go for it, maybe not to try harder, and maybe even not to pursue a dream, because everyone has a dream! And the opposite of fear is Love. This is what actually helps us to conquer fear and build faith.
4. Will we ever see these characters again in the future?
Vera has had a long journey. I feel she has found her home.
5. What did you have to research or work on to write about human trafficking?
My main source was a real prototype of my heroine. I was shocked by her story and conducted more research. It was mostly research. Human trafficking in Chechnya has been common and quite ordinary ‘business’ for a long time. What happened to Vera, happened to hundreds of other girls from different parts of Russia and former Soviet Union. However, a lot of men were also kidnapped and turned to farm and plantation workers. The fate of 3397 people, who were kidnapped throughout the years, is still unknown.
6. Were any of the characters personalities or emotions taken from real life?
The prototypes are all taken from real life as well as their emotions. The whole process of writing this book was a way for me to explore the main character, to understand why she made certain choices along the way and why it took her so long to become who she was meant to become. She was not knocked down by slavery, but her entire life was ruined after the loss of her beloved! I just tried to understand her and I wanted my reader could do the same. For me, it was an eye opening experience.
7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?
I love movies and have recently finished a screenplay for an animated musical fantasy comedy.
8. If you were Vera, what would you do?
Vera is very different from me.
What would I do if I was her? It's difficult for me to answer this question. I suppose I would have taken responsibility for myself and my life and created a new one. I prefer to be myself.
9. Would you like to see Second Take as a film? If yes, who do you want to see play your characters?
I would love to see Second Take as a film. I wrote a screenplay based on my book; I could see Sandra Bullock as Vera.
10. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?
My goal is to write at least five fiction books and I also have ideas for movies, which I am definitely going to put down on paper. I want to do something that has a message; something inspiring but at the same time entertaining.
11. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?
Directing movies. :)
12. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?
I have just finished a screenplay for an animated fantasy comedy. My next idea is a fiction novel with a working title Hearts.
13. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?
14. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
* I can sew a beautiful prom dress
* I have visited all 7 continents
* Once, I smuggled a living turtle all the way from Morocco to Norway, not even knowing that I had it in my luggage.