My thanks to Roberta Gately for stopping by Tribute Books Mama and sharing her thoughts about her book, Lipstick in Afghanistan.
ABOUT ROBERTA: A nurse, humanitarian aid worker, and writer, Roberta Gately has served in third-world war zones ranging from Africa to Afghanistan. She has written extensively on the subject of refugees for the Journal of Emergency Nursing, as well as a series of articles for the BBC Worlds News Online. She speaks regularly on the plight of the world’s refugees and displaced.
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1. How did you come up with the title?
I was in Afghanistan and walking into my clinic when a woman tugged at my veil. I turned and she threw back the veil of her burqa and pointed out the bright orange lipstick she wore. “Ahh,” I said aloud, “lipstick in Afghanistan.” I loved the sound of that phrase and knew I’d use it someday.
2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That we are all more alike than we know.
3. How much of the book is realistic?
While it is based loosely on my time in Bamiyan and the descriptions of the village are realistic, it really is a work of fiction.
4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I think every writer continually edits and re-writes his own work in his mind and wonders what if I’d written it this way instead of that…but no, I wouldn’t change anything.
5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Deciding what to cut.
6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Edit, edit, edit and then when you are convinced it’s perfect… edit again.
7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My love of writing emanated from my love of reading, and I’ve been writing short stories for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first short story series when I was seven years old and I’ve been writing ever since.
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite author changes regularly though my favorite book will always be “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Harper Lee crafted a brilliant story and filled it with memorable characters – it is a classic in every sense of the word.
9. Tell us your latest news.
I am working on a second novel - “The Bracelet” which is the story of a young aid worker who may have witnessed or perhaps only dreamed that she witnessed a murder in Geneva while enroute to her posting in Pakistan. Her determination to prove or disprove the truth of her dream leads her into the sinister world of human trafficking.
10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading my novel and an enormous thank you for your wonderful comments. I appreciate the time that people take to write or email and I hope that people will enjoy reading Lipstick as much as I enjoyed writing it.
ABOUT LIPSTICK IN AFGHANISTAN: Roberta Gately’s lyrical and authentic debut novel—inspired by her own experiences as a nurse in third world war zones—is one woman’s moving story of offering help and finding hope in the last place she expected.
Gripped by haunting magazine images of starving refugees, Elsa has dreamed of becoming a nurse since she was a teenager. Of leaving her humble working-class Boston neighborhood to help people whose lives are far more difficult than her own. No one in her family has ever escaped poverty, but Elsa has a secret weapon: a tube of lipstick she found in her older sister’s bureau. Wearing it never fails to raise her spirits and cement her determination. With lipstick on, she can do anything—even travel alone to war-torn Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.
But violent nights as an ER nurse in South Boston could not prepare Elsa for the devastation she witnesses at the small medical clinic she runs in Bamiyan. As she struggles to prove herself to the Afghan doctors and local villagers, she begins a forbidden romance with her only confidant, a charming Special Forces soldier. Then, a tube of lipstick she finds in the aftermath of a tragic bus bombing leads her to another life-changing friendship. In her neighbor Parween, Elsa finds a kindred spirit, fiery and generous. Together, the two women risk their lives to save friends and family from the worst excesses of the Taliban. But when the war waging around them threatens their own survival, Elsa discovers her only hope is to unveil the warrior within. Roberta Gately’s raw, intimate novel is an unforgettable tribute to the power of friendship and a poignant reminder of the tragic cost of war.
For more information on Roberta and Lipstick in Afghanistan, please visit RobertaGately.com
Congratulations to our winner: Debbie Penny!