I enjoyed a quick Skype interview last week with Angela Weldon of The Ithacan, Ithaca College’s excellent student run newspaper. Excerpt below:
AW: You have won multiple awards and grants for your work and research, which allowed you to travel to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia. What were your experiences like?
SK: The experiences were varied. My trip to Indonesia with the tsunami, with the Constance Saltonstall Grant, was a nonfiction project, so I interviewed tsunami survivors. When I was writing my first novel, “Noor,” I got a Fulbright research award to travel to Pakistan and to Bangladesh because the subject matter of that novel is a 1971 war. I traveled to Pakistan to interview soldiers who had participated in the war. It was quite an amazing experience. In Bangladesh I tried to interview victims and went to museums and looked at archives and one or two mass graves that I visited, that sort of thing.
AW: How did those experiences impact your work with your novels?
SK: I couldn’t have written my novels without the possibilities for travel. It’s one thing to imagine a place, but it’s completely a different thing to be there and experience it, and that’s what these grants have allowed me to do.