Today is National Reading Group Day & we are beyond thrilled to be sharing this interview with Christine Lefteri, the author of the Official Read for the Reading Agency, The Beekeeper of Aleppo. In this interview we chat with Christy, the international bestselling author although despite her enormous success, Christy is incredibly humble & truly a voice for those whose voices are rarely heard. In this chat, Christy will be sharing the many inspiring, heartbreaking & moving stories of real people that came together to form the narrative in The Beekeeper of Aleppo. After listening to this conversation, you will get a true understanding of all the time, research & experiences that have led to Christy writing the highly acclaimed novel. And with the many uncanny experiences & chance meetings Christy retells, you may get the impression she was always fated to write The Beekeeper of Aleppo.
We hope you enjoy this chat as much as we did. Happy National Reading Group Day from The Great Big Book Club!
In this chat, we discuss:
- Christy on being the spokesperson for the refugees’ stories & representing displaced peoples internationally.
- Christy’s parents’ experience seeking refuge after the war in Cyprus.
- The voices behind The Beekeeper of Aleppo: Christy’s experience meeting up & interviewing people after work in the evenings at The Hope Centre in Athens.
- Christy’s emotional moment when she sat at the beach in Cyprus & looked across the sea to the devastation in Syria.
- Being on the frontline of the refugee crisis: “It’s very different watching the news than being there & meeting the people.”
- Plus you get an exclusive appearance from Christy’s Siri as she mentions Syria!
- The serendipity of Christy’s journey & the people she had met along the way that helped form the story.
- Learning Arabic: the decision Christy made to learn Syrian Arabic to help translating people’s stories.
- Christy’s brilliant Arabic teacher Ibrahim who was from Aleppo & helped Asylum Seekers from the region. This chance opportunity led to Ibrahim being one of the key voices in the manuscript of The Beekeeper of Aleppo.
- The interrogative nature of Asylum Seeker interviews when people are attempting to seek asylum in the UK.
- The Hope Centre & it’s sense of chaos for the organisers, but a safe space for Asylum Seekers.
- The formulation of characters in the book, The Beekeeper of Aleppo & the morning Christy knew the protagonist, Nuri would be a beekeeper. Plus the inspiring real man behind the beekeeper character all connected via a Facebook message.
- The moment the beehives are destroyed in the book & the many truths from reality that are reflected in the book.
- Christy on fate & serendipity while writing the book: “I felt with Beekeeper I was living & experiencing while I was writing. That living & experiencing became such integral parts of the writing process. So I didn’t know who I was going to meet round the corner. And I guess, if I were to meet somebody else maybe the story would have taken a slightly different turn. I don’t know if I met the right people, or if I was so inspired by the people I met that it just fit into the story & helped it become what it became.”
- Christy on her new novel coming soon called Songbirds & the deeply institutionalised racism in Cyprus & the events that led to the horrific murders of female domestic workers.
- Christy on The Reading Agency & her deep honour & love of reading.