email a friend iconprinter friendly iconThe Life: Kira Salak
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A: Your open, emotional style is unusual in adventure writing, where the prevailing ethos is machismo, or at least a stiff upper lip.

KS: What interests me is the inner journey. I find the more open you are about your own vulnerabilities and failures—the more authentically human you are—the better you can relate to other people.

A: What are you most afraid of? It’s certainly not dangerous places, not war zones.

KS: I can get scared of opening my heart to people, scared of love.

A: Was Robert Lewis, the emotionally scarred but heroic journalist, based on someone in particular?

KS: His character spontaneously popped into my head about a dozen years ago, after I spent time in a refugee camp in Papua New Guinea listening to people tell me they’d been tortured, that their loved ones had been killed. It was agonizing. The Lewis character was a response to my own feeling of helplessness.

A: Overall, do you consider The White Mary a dark novel?

KS: There is darkness there. But Marika’s journey is similar to one that many people have to take in life. They have to hit rock bottom, go to the deepest parts of their own souls to realize there’s a way out.

A: One of the themes in the book is the tug between the footloose, adventurous life and the ties of love.

KS: Yeah, I’ve definitely had to deal with that. I do have a pretty unconventional life, compared to many women.

A: You seem unconventional in the extreme. C’mon, confess a conformity.

KS: Well, I like to eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken. How’s that for mainstream?

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