A year or two ago I jetted off to Milan to report back for i newspaper on the beautiful city for a travel piece, focusing on Leonardo da Vinci. (it’s here, if you are interested)
Amid the small gaggle of reporters on that trip was this lovely lady Kamin Mohammadi, who had joined us from her hilltop home near Florence.
Glamour personified, Kamin had a remarkable story. Originally from Iran, she fled with her family to London in 1979 during the Islamic revolution, where she forged a career in the glam world of glossy newspapers – for our second meeting I met her in the lobby of Vogue in central London amid the coming and goings of the trendy, young, and shiny haired.
She was not just a journalist but a writer and broadcaster passionate about the life-changing powers of food and lifestyle, home-producing olive oil from her chateau on the hill where she lives with her Italian husband and several litters of adorable puppies, flying regularly back and forth to the UK. Eventually we have become not just contacts but friends.
Her first book The Cypress Tree: A Love Letter to Iran was inspired by rediscovering her Iranian identity. In reality the writing of that book was a story in itself. Made redundant, struggling with her weight, health and love life, she fled to Florence to stay in a friend’s flat and write it. The rediscovery of herself through this process inspired Bella Figura; How to live, love and eat the Italian way, which has gone on change thousands of women’s lives and the way they think about food and themselves.
So here we go – 10 questions with author Kamin Mohammadi:
- What’s your name and where do you come from?
Kamin Mohammadi. I am born and bred in Iran, brought up in London and now living in Italy
- Do you you write fact or fiction and in what genre?
I write narrative non-fiction. I call it this rather than ‘memoir’ because my books read like novels rather than autobiographies!
- Are you traditionally or self published and which route do you consider best?
I am published by Bloomsbury in the UK, Knopf in the US and Random House in Canada – three venerable publishers in their different ways. I think self-publishing still has a very long way to go to be able to match the quality of traditional publishing – in terms of working with an editor, having access to legal checks and copy editing and proofreading, not to mention cover design, and having the back-up of sales and marketing. It’s hard enough to get noticed with a publishing house behind you, how on earth do you get your work out there if you publish yourself? No no, having done the publicity circuit for two books now I can tell you it’s exhausting enough as it is. If you have to generate all that yourself it would be nigh on impossible.
- What’s is you work schedule like when you are writing?
When I am in a book I will write all day every day and it’s a struggle to make myself take a break. I like to immerse! The rest of the time I am more maverick than that!
- What advice would you give to budding writers?
Write, write write! You have to get into the habit of writing every day; remember it’s 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.
- Who/what are YOUR favourite authors/ books?
This is hard! Too many to mention, but let’s say that right now I am loving the new novels by Elizabeth Gilbert (City of Girls), Tishani Doshi (Small Days and Nights), the memoir My Wild and Sleepless Nights by Clover Stroud, and The Anarchy by William Dalrymple which is a history of the East India Company and the latest thriller from Christobel Kent called The Viper.
- Are you a plotter or a pantster? (i.e do you plan out your work of fly by the seat of your pants?!)
I tend to have a rough outline but rarely plan in detail, so I am a bit of both.
- What helps you focus?
- How long did it take you to write your book/books?
Both of them took around 4 years each as I tend to start and stop and take gaps to do other jobs and refill the bank account!
- Where can we find your book/s?
In good bookshops everywhere! Of course on amazon, but also direct on the Bloomsbury website which often has good discounts.
To learn more about Kamin and her work go to her website Kamin.co.uk
READ MORE AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:
10 questions with author Joseph Delaney
Another enjoyable and enlightening brief encounter. Liked her approach to being immersed in writing.Thanks, Nicola.