Being of Afghan heritage myself, I have some knowledge of Afghanistan and its people in the pre-Taliban era. The Afghani characters in my book – Rashida and Rafi – are based on actual people that I knew and loved growing up, while Rashida’s journey mirrors my own as a young adult. Rashida’s character was inspired by my cousin Muriel (pictured), a true Afghan beauty, while Rashida’s grandparents reflect the nature of my own relatives. So, I guess Rashida and Rafi have them to thank for the liberal education and life that they (and I) enjoyed. Taking on a position as a governess in Outback Queensland I, like Rashida, had much to learn of life in the outback, the native animals and the general environment.
Rashida’s initial experiences of the outback plants and wildlife echo those of my own including the welcoming, altruistic, tolerant, open and accepting temperament of the varied people of the outback and the courteous, thoughtful nature of Australia as a whole.