I love the breeze from the Bosphorus on a hot day and the scents that fill the city from the various eateries

Atia Abawi has worked as a foreign correspondent for NBC News and CNN. Her work has taken her all over the world – from reporting on the front line in Afghanistan to providing royal wedding coverage in London for NBC. She recently wrote her first novel The Secret Sky, which received critical acclaim and she is now working on her second tome. Abawi, who will be appearing at the Singapore Writers Festival, tells us about her travels


Where have you just flown back from?
The last place I flew from was the United States to Jerusalem. We live in Jerusalem because of my husband’s job [Abawi’s husband is Fox News Foreign Correspondent Conor Powell] and we were in the US to visit family. My family is in California and my husband’s family is near Washington D.C. We also spent a day in New York for work and to visit with friends.

What’s your favourite city?
Oh, this is a hard one. I have a lot of favourite cities, including Singapore. I feel so blessed to be making it there for a third time. I love the multiculturalism and kindness of the people. And I am obsessed with the food! My husband, baby and I frequented the hawker centres during our previous visit.

Which country do you visit the most?
Well, a country that I’ve been to a lot and really enjoy is Turkey. Especially Istanbul, I think it is such a marvellous city with rich history. I love the breeze from the Bosphorus on a hot day and the scents that fill the city from the various eateries. I have been there for work and pleasure. I was there most recently to research my latest novel about Syrian refugees.

What’s the souvenir you always come home with from vacation?
Hotel slippers.

Which travel gadgets wouldn’t you leave home without?
Does my Kindle count? I can’t not have my Kindle with me. And my Boost Case for my iPhone.

Where’s the most glamorous place that you’ve stayed when travelling?
A bungalow over the water in the Maldives. It was so dreamy.

Where the least glamorous place that you’ve stayed when travelling?
In a mud chicken coup with U.S. Marines while in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It was freezing, filled with bugs, and in the middle of a battle between them and the Taliban.

Why did you choose to be a war correspondent?
I believe strongly that a journalist should also play the part of being the voice for the voiceless. And in wars there are societies of people who are not represented – only those fighting are. Yes, I will report on the battles and the fighting, but I also want to include the civilians who are suffering through it. They are just like us, no matter how much we want to deny it. And at any day, we can be in their shoes.

Kate Adie is said to have kneed a policemen in the groin, scaled a wall and endured a bullet nick in her arm to deliver her tapes. What have you had to go through to get a story?
My head missed a Taliban bullet by about six inches while I was running towards the Marine position under attack to get the story. Then the same shooter was targeting me as I was running back to make sure I would be able to file the story. On that same trip I stepped on a roadside bomb, but God was listening to my mother’s prayers because it didn’t go off.

What are you looking forward to doing during your time in Singapore?
I’m really looking forward to the conference and the food. Noodles. And more noodles.

What are your plans for next year?
I’m currently finishing up my next novel about the Syrian refugee crisis. The final needs to be in by January. And the rest of 2017 I will be working on getting it finalized for publication in 2018.

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