Author Guest Post: Zvezdana Rashkovich on the Inspiration Behind Dubai WivesI had the good fortune of being born to an adventurous, brave woman who was not afraid of…anything it seems.

My mother is the oldest of seven sisters, born among the lush forests and by the banks of the Korana River in former Yugoslavia. A descendant of peasants, child of partisans…raised in a bygone era.

Mother had big dreams. She wanted to dance, travel the world, and write stories. She dreamt of living the life of a Texas cowgirl, a Russian ballerina or an Arab princess, even of being tragically in love with a handsome dark skinned Maharaja.

My mother had ingrained these dreams of travel in me. A woman who challenged conventional Balkans of the seventies by marrying an impoverished, African Muslim student, and then followed him to his far away mysterious country. Her zest for travel and eagerness for learning about other cultures led her on a series of impulsive travels across Asia, Europe, and Africa with my equally free spirited stepfather…always me, and my sister in tow.

Due to them, I lived in Tripoli, Libya, among other places, a country of magnificent Roman ruins, white beaches, and stunning Mediterranean waters. We spent months in Baghdad, enjoying kebabs and kofta by the murky Tigris. We drove across Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. In Greece, we boarded a ship to North Africa, drove across Egypt, and arrived in Sudan after days on a train through the Sahara. My parent’s favorite means of transport were car, ship, and train. We only flew once, to Libya and I hated it.

Throughout these journeys, I fumed inwardly in sullen rebellion. My only escape from the ever-changing landscape of our life was into writing. Inspiration came from all around me. Something called out asking me to record it all.

Once in the Sudan, we settled to a life on a farm by the Nile. I woke up to the sounds of birds of paradise outside my window and the clatter of pumps sucking water out of the gracefully flowing Nile. Mango and lime trees swayed in the warm Savannah breeze surrounded by hectares of cornfields.

The isolation and companionless life on the farm helped stir my imagination. Stories of swashbuckling bedouins and Arab warriors churned in my mind and I wrote them down in a growing stack of thin copybooks.

Decades passed and I moved to the United States with my new Sudanese/Egyptian husband then later to Doha, Qatar. I became a busy mom of four…and my ambitions as a writer became an impossible dream for a while.

We moved to Dubai and my oldest two entered university then moved away from home, leaving me unprepared for being a mom to only two! I started scribbling into my copybooks again, an old idea merging and skittering in my mind. I have always wanted to write a multicultural story about women set in challenging circumstances, be it the Sudan, or Doha or Dubai.  I was fascinated by people’s often unconscious metamorphosis and the lengths they can go to when pushed. I chose Dubai as the background because of its vibrant and lavish vibe.  I researched, read a lot and remembered accounts, incidents then wove them together into Dubai Wives. I wanted my characters to portray a cross section of the diverse and often conflicting society of Dubai revealing its many layers.

The result was a fictionalized story of eight culturally and religiously diverse women, whose lives collide in a city of shifting sands and loyalties. The city itself served as a ninth character with its exotic but sometimes dark side that is slowly unveiled through the trials and tribulations of these marvelously complex but fallible women.

Learn more about Zvezdana Rashkovich and her books on her author website and her Sleepless in Dubai blog.