Each evening, nestled in Berlin’s Treptower Park, the immigrant circus comes to life.
When Yusuf fled Syria, he lost everything. Now the circus, with its middle-eastern flair, is the only home he knows. When the lights go on, the refugees dazzle their audience, but off-stage tensions flare.
Ellie is passionate about the circus and drawn to its broken people. Even so, if she wants to keep her job at the newspaper, she must head up a campaign against it.
One night, in the midst of a show, two young circus boys come to blows. With the circus at risk of closure, Ellie must convince her readers that we can have compassion for those we fear, or Yusuf will be forced to uproot again.
Links for the book:
MY INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR!!
Thanks very much for hosting me on your blog! Thrilled to be there.
- When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
I think I always knew. Books were always special to me and in my teens I journaled a lot. I was drawn to jobs with words but nothing quite seemed the right fit. I studied English Literature at university and then drifted into a political job where I wrote speeches and briefings.
I got used to ignoring the voice in the back of my mind that whispered I should write stories. Then my second child was born and I realised it was now or never. Life speeds up when you have children and I thought how sad would be to let the dream of writing slip through my fingers.
That was it. The places we inhabit are never handed to us. We come to those places guided by talent, but mostly by persistence and effort. We pay attention and invest in the areas that are important to us. It taught me to be bold. To dream but also do. We shouldn’t be foolish or self-important enough to think we can’t make mistakes.
I’m so glad I changed track. It feels right. The physical act of writing, the tap of the keyboard, the soreness of my shoulders after a long day’s work, the crease of the page and the glare of the screen are satisfying. They mean I have done an honest day’s work. Writing for me is a tool for insight and healing. When the world feels dark, reimagining it is powerful.
- What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always been a daydreamer. There are some images I just can’t shake, and that’s when I know a story is worth telling. It was much the same with Hidden Colours. I was thinking a lot about immigration at the time, and I couldn’t forget the picture I’d seen of Aylan, the little boy that washed up on UK shores.
I wanted to find out what happens to those who make it. Can they leave their suffering behind and start afresh? Would they be welcomed? Would they find a way to carry their homes and loved ones with them?
The novel grew from those questions. I decided to tell the story of a group of people trying to put down roots in Europe after fleeing war and a circus sprang into my mind as the perfect metaphor for a group of outsiders.
- If you could sell this book in one sentence what would it be?
This one: ‘Each evening, nestled in Berlin’s Treptower Park, the immigrant circus comes to life.’
I love that sentence. It gives a sense of the magical setting but also a hint of tragedy, and I hope it intrigues enough for readers to search out the book.
- What are you up to next?
My next book, An Ocean of Masks, is about a woman called Norah who is headmistress of a community boarding school in Brixton, South London. Her job is to put children back together after their lives have derailed.
When funding runs short and the school must close,Norah’s pupils act out their anguish in increasingly dangerous ways. She understands their anger because the same red hot fury pulses through her own veins.
Little does she know, she’s about to get angrier still: she’s on a collision course to meet the mother who abandoned her as a toddler.
- Who is your biggest inspiration?
It’s so hard to narrow that down to one person. Story-tellers have always been such a gift for me. When I was a child I snuck away at family gatherings to read, coming across distracted in conversations because what I really wanted to be doing was to disappear into another world. It was bliss.
I think if I’m honest, the authors that most inspired me were the ones I read at university. My sense of immersion in books was wonderful at that point. Life didn’t intrude on reading. You could cocoon yourself away and no one minded or demanded attention. A Feminist Literature course I did enthralled me. The writing was raw, political and fearless, and all embedded in fiction. I still return to those authors today: Virginia Woolf, Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood. But as a grown up, I also seek out diverse characters. I love Kamila Shamsie, Jonathan Safran Foer and ChimamandaNgoziAdichie. I try to write books with rich settings, about voices that get sidelined, and those writers helped me get there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nillu Nasser is a writer of literary fiction novels. Her books include: All the Tomorrows (2017) and Hidden Colours (2018). An Ocean of Masks is due to be released in 2019. Nillu has a BA in English and German Literature, and an MA in European Politics. After graduating she worked in national and regional politics, but eventually reverted to her first love: writing. She lives in London with her husband and three children. For further information or to say hello, visit http://www.NilluNasser.com.