Slate: How did you decide to write this book, and then go about doing it? Tell me about the process.--Marshal Zeringue
Amanda Lindhout: I knew what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to write a typical captivity narrative, beginning and ending with only that snapshot in time. That seemed to be what most publishers were interested in. But Sara and I had a mutual friend, Robert Draper, another writer who was in Somalia when I was, and appears briefly in the book. After my release, he connected us. For me, it was instantaneous when we met, because Sara, like me, saw the story as a much bigger one. We agreed that it should encompass my years of travel around the world and my childhood. We’ve said since we started that we see the world as a character in the book. There’s a lot of adventure and even fun in the first 100 pages. Yes, the captivity is often very brutal, but as a reader you also go on a larger journey with me as this young woman. It’s more honest and real that way, and to understand why I was in Somalia, it’s important to understand who I was at that point in my life.
Slate: The most riveting scene in the book is your escape attempt, excerpted here. You and Nigel managed to pry open a bathroom window and run into a nearby mosque. Dozens of men surround you. One of your kidnappers fires his gun, parting the crowd. One Somali woman steps forward and calls you her sister. Your kidnapper starts trying to drag you out of the mosque. “I don’t remember any of the onlookers trying to stop him,” you write. “It was only the woman who tried.” What do you want readers to take from this scene?
Lindhout: As you probably know, I...[read on]