While the inspiration for my writing seems to be rooted in food, what with all the cookie, peanut butter and coffee references, as well as all the bits where character seem to be eating, my Guest today, author Georgina Penney found her muse in an exotic location and tells a Halloween tale of Arabian Nights.
Halloween used to be just a scary movie or something that I’d see featured in American sitcoms as a kid. In fact, other than a couple of really memorable Simpsons episodes, it never flew across my radar until seven years ago when I moved to Saudi Arabia.
The compound we moved to was pretty much a simulacrum of 1950s American suburbia right down to the bake sales and coffee mornings. There were churches on camp, a golf course and, because the compound was built on the Arabian Gulf, some fantastic snorkeling and diving to be had… all right next to the world’s biggest oil refinery. (“Just don’t breathe the air and everything’s perfect honey!”)
The first inkling I got that Halloween was something that I would be experiencing for the first time was the decorations on my American and Canadian neighbors’ homes. In fact, even my Saudi neighbors got into the swing of things. There were suddenly scary ghosts hanging from palm trees and plastic spiders stuck to the golf carts we women drove around camp. People started talking about how the weather always shifted from scorchingly hot (50 plus degrees Celsius) to winter after Halloween and all of a sudden I started to have something to really look forward to.
Then I started to get women asking me if I could co-taxi with them into the nearest city, Khobar to get sweets and costumes for their kids. (If you’re smart, you never take a taxi on your own as a woman in Saudi.) Before I knew it, the sun was going down one weekend and my house was besieged by munchkins and their parents in costumes. It wasn’t just the American kids but the English, Lebanese, Australian, Saudi and everyone in between and I had a hoot of a time. (Thank God I’d stocked up on sweets on one of those trips into town!)
The surrealness of that evening, the sheer inclusiveness and the fun the kids and their parents were having really drew me in and became the inspiration for my first attempt at a novel. I haven’t stopped writing since and nowadays when Halloween comes around, I always make sure I’m well stocked up on sugary treats just in case there’s a ring on the doorbell.
Georgina Penney first discovered romance novels when she was eleven and has been a fan of the genre ever since. It took her another eighteen years to finally sit in front of a keyboard and get something down on the page but that’s alright, she was busy doing other things until then. You can find Georgina’s latest, Irrepressible You here.