Author and travel writer Kia Abdullah was born and raised in London and has visited 55 countries across the globe. Last autumn, she chose to settle in Richmond. Richmondshire Today finds out more about the move and look at what she’s working on now.
Richmond is a big change from London. What prompted the move?
My partner, Peter, and I really enjoy the outdoors and wanted to be close to some of England’s best scenery. We initially looked inside Yorkshire Dales National Park and nearly chose Reeth, but it felt like too big a leap from London in terms of pace. Richmond offers a great balance between access to the outdoors and convenience.
What has surprised you about Richmond?
That accessing amenities is easier than in London. Here, I have a cinema, bookshop, gym, tearoom, coffee shop and wonderful bakery all within walking distance. In London, I’d have to take a bus or train for nearly all those things. That’s a common assumption among my friends from London; that life in the ‘country’ means sacrificing comforts. In truth, Duncans Tearoom, Mocha chocolate shop and The Angel’s Share Bakery more than compete with their peers in London!
We hear you’re working on a new novel?
Yes. Take It Back is a courtroom drama to be published by HarperCollins in August this year. The victim in the court case is a 16-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother, who accuses four boys of something unthinkable. The defendants are four handsome teenage boys from hard-working immigrant families, all with corroborating stories. The novel asks a central question – who is telling the truth? – but also comments on the way divisions are drawn along racial lines and how the media treat cases like this.
You’re also a travel writer. Tell us more.
Writing novels is generally a poor way to make a living (unless you’re JK Rowling!) so my day job involves editing outdoor travel blog atlasandboots.com, which I run with my partner. The site is part travelogue and part how-to guide. If, for example, you want to know how to complete a certain hike in Sri Lanka without a guide, or whether three days in Etosha National Park in Namibia is enough time, we can answer those questions for you. We have 200,000 readers a month so the advertising revenue from that puts food on the table. We are also ambassadors for Lonely Planet and do some work for them every year.
What’s your favourite country?
Ha, everyone asks that. It depends on what you’re looking for. For scenery: New Zealand, for people: Turkey, for food: Sri Lanka, for architecture: Jordan or Cambodia, for wildlife: Namibia. So you see – there isn’t one answer.
You’re also a bit of an adrenaline junkie?
A little bit, yes. I’ve jumped out of a plane (twice) and done the longest bungy jump in New Zealand: 134m. I enjoy things like via ferrata, canyoning and climbing. I think part of this comes from growing up in London. Even though it’s a big city, I had quite a ‘small’ childhood with few chances to experience the outdoors, so now I embrace it.
Where can we find out more?
You can sign up to my monthly newsletter at kiaabdullah.com/newsletter. Take It Back is also available for pre-order on Amazon UK.