Marilyn Holdsworth

Broken Pieces - Rachel Thompson

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Author Interview – Nick Osborne

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? Oh God I have so many but one that I have held onto a lot of late is from FDR’s Fourth Inaugural.

“Things in life will not always run smoothly. Sometimes we will be rising toward the heights—then all will seem to reverse itself and start downward. The great fact to remember is that the trend of civilization itself is forever upward; that a line drawn through the middle of the peaks and the valleys of the centuries always has an upward trend.”

I am a realist but also an optimist, This sums up perfectly my outlook on life.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? I know it might sound corny but being a father and a husband (and hopefully a decent one) is my greatest accomplishment. I know when I was twenty I’d have been horrified to think I would ever utter such a thing. But the longer I have lived, the more I realize there is no more important thing you can do. Sure you want to accomplish other things especially in the professional sphere and I’m certainly not an unambitious man, but at the end of your days I suspect nothing else will matter as much.

When and why did you begin writing? I left the U.K right out of Oxford University and came to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a film producer. I had some success first as a film executive and then as a partner in Underground Films, a production / management company. Along the way I produced such films as License To Wed and Remember Me. Yet deep down I knew I was frustrated. I got into producing because I want to get stories I believed in made but too often than not they ran away from me. As the producer you’re not the ultimate or even secondary creative force. You’re more of a guide / facilitator if anything.

And so I came to the realization about five years ago that I needed to write if I really wanted to tell stories. That’s when I started writing Refuge. I made the full break almost two years ago when I sold my share in Underground Films and committed fully to writing. It’s the best thing I ever did and apart from Refuge, I have also set up a TV show I wrote and created at FX.

In all honesty I think I was always a writer. I often dabbled. But at some point to do it well you have to commit and instead of thinking of it as a hobby you have to plant your flag in the ground and state clearly and unequivocally that “I am a writer.”

What inspires you to write and why? I have a keen sense that I want to write stories that not only touch and entertain people but perhaps make a difference. I’m not talking about my readers having an earth shattering change after they read something I’ve written but perhaps they might have a new opinion on a part of the world they knew little about before, or have a moment of reflection as to what’s important in their own lives.

This is what I aspire to at least because I know the books that accomplish these things are the ones that stay with me.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? Drama – it is why I am writing novels and TV nowadays. In features dramas are just incredibly hard to get made and my hat goes off to everyone who manages to do it.

At the same time I always like to add a certain thriller aspect to my writing – by that I mean, having a good villain or plot that places the hero in danger. In Refuge the book came alive when Noor was faced with the prospect that Tariq, her brother, would go to the ends of the world if need be to marry her off to his patron, the Saudi Prince.

What inspired you to write your first book? In 1991, at the age of eighteen, I went to work in Peshawar, Pakistan as a teacher. Initially I was only meant to work in a Pakistani children’s school but within a month I also had a job teaching adult Afghan refugees English.

The experience has forever stayed with me. It was one of the hardest, most exhilarating, most disheartening and most soul uplifting times in my life. I still cannot believe how young I was, this privileged Westerner suddenly thrust into this conservative Islamic world where nearly every man carried a gun, a war was raging only miles away, and almost every woman wore a burqa.

My students were my inspiration. The refugees were men who had endured terrible hardships and in some cases unbelievable tragedy yet they smiled, had hope and were ever thankful for the work I did. They made me realize that whatever horrors are thrust at people, the human spirit remains unbowed.
On the flip side, I saw the brutality of man, both humanity’s evil and its indifference.

I was also affected by the plight of the women. If the men had it hard then they had it a hundred times worse. Having a daughter of my own inspired me to write Noor as strong as possible – to have her dreams and aspirations be ones that not only my daughter should have the ability to aspire to but all daughters should.

People asks me whether Charlie is really based on myself or was inspired by my own story. First I never had a love affair with an Afghan refugee and while Charlie may have had aspects to my character when I first started writing the book by the end we shared way fewer characteristics.

If there is anyone I aspire to in the novel it is Aamir Khan. He is the father I want to be to my daughter.
I saw a quote the other day from Shabana Basij-Rasikh, an inspirational Afgahn teacher who had an equally inspirational Afghan father. She said “Behind most of us who succeed [in Afghanistan] is a father who recognizes the value in his daughter and who sees her success as his success”. I think all fathers, be they in Afghanistan or the United States, should do the same. Do you intend to make writing a career? Yes, in fact a year and a half ago, I took a big swing and decided to dedicate myself to it. For the last 16 years I have worked in Hollywood, first as a film production executive, then a film producer. Yet deep down I always yearned to write. I realized you could only be taken seriously as a writer if you announced to the world that it was your primary occupation, not some hobby, something you did on the side. So that’s what I did. I sold my company and set to it. So far I feel very blessed. I have just sold my first pilot script to a network and Refuge continues to sell well and gain fans.

On a dusty, sweltering night, Noor Khan, a beautiful, headstrong Afghan refugee, comes face-to-face with Charlie Matthews, a brash, young American aid worker. To Noor’s fury, Charlie breaks every cultural norm and pursues her. She wants nothing to do with him: her sole aim in life is to earn an overseas scholarship so she can escape the miseries of the refugee camps.

However when Noor’s brother threatens to marry her off, she is forced to seek refuge in Charlie’s home, of all places, and suddenly everything Noor believes in is put into question.

Set in the mystical and seething city of Peshawar, where no one is without an agenda and few can be trusted, Refuge is a timeless and unforgettable love story about the struggle for love and purpose in a cruel and cynical world.

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Genre – Literary Fiction / Romance

Rating – PG13

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