Zoë Ferraris moved to Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the first Gulf War to live with her then-husband and his extended family, a group of Saudi-Palestinian Bedouins who had never welcomed an American into their lives before. She first conceived the idea for Finding Nouf at a jacket bazaar in Jeddah, where her ex-husband bought a "Columbo" coat and proposed setting off to solve mysteries - though to Zoë the only mystery at the time was why they were at a jacket bazaar in the hottest country in the world. She has an M.F.A. from Columbia University and received first prize for mystery fiction at the Santa Barbara Writers' Conference in 2003. She currently lives in San Francisco with her teenage daughter.
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Zoë Ferraris answers questions about her first novel, Finding Nouf, the first in an amateur detective series set in Saudi Arabia
First of all, I think people would like to know your connection to Saudi Arabia,
so they don't think you're making this all up.
Well, actually, I made it up. But there's also a lot of real Saudi Arabia in the book.
When I was nineteen, I got married to a Saudi-Palestinian Bedouin. We met in San Francisco, and I fell completely in love with him. He was hilarious and brilliant and over-the-top zany. He had come to America to study English. He told his parents that once he was fluent, he would go back to Jeddah. So he never became fluent. Learning English actually, he called it "Languish" was just going to have to take forever.
We got married and had a daughter. The day she was born, he decided that we had to visit his family in Jeddah. Just a short visit, you know, to show off his new wife and kid. We wound up staying for almost a year. It turns out that you can't just visit for a week or two. You have to stay until his mother stops having heart episodes every time you go to the airport.
So you didn't get along with your...
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