Expat Interview: Author Franca Sol's 'Little Adventures in Yemen' | ExpatWoman.com

Expat Interview: Author Franca Sol's 'Little Adventures in Yemen'

From falling in love with a killer to navigating expat life in the little-known world of Yemen, there are lots to unpack in Franca Sol's exciting debut book.

Interview With Expat Author Franca Sol: "Little Adventures in Yemen"

The ExpatWoman team caught up with Franca Sol, an author and humanitarian aid worker. She has lived and worked in the Middle East for the past 10 years – including Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Oman, covering several crises and conflicts.

We are thrilled to present you her debut novel 'Little Adventures in Yemen', which follows her navigating love and life in Sana'a, the capital city of Yemen.

From a local lad with an arranged marriage to a fugitive mercenary posing as a dentist, Franca's romances and everyday life in the city offers readers a thrilling glimpse into one expat's adventures and misadventures.

Little Adventures in Yemen by Franca Sol

Image credit: Sarah Aljoumari (@s.jamjam) | Instagram

Q. What motivated you to start writing 'Little Adventures in Yemen'? Was there a light bulb moment?

"When I left Yemen, with a suitcase full of feelings, anecdotes, and a lot of love for the country and its people; this was the moment I started the novel. I felt the urge to express myself, to write and let the readers know more about this culturally rich and little-known country."

Q. What do you find was the most fun about writing your book?

"Making fun of absolutely any situation that happened in Yemen, no matter how good or tragic it was. It was a great catharsis as the book is inspired by my own experiences in the country.

Also, to see some of the scenes such as the “bowling in abbaya” illustrated by Sarah was really fun. She really added to the book."

Q. What is your best writing advice?

"Write from the heart and about something you are passionate about. It will translate into your words."

Q. The cast of love interests has strong quirks and backgrounds. How do you research these rich subcultures and find inspiration for them?

"I find inspiration in people I have crossed paths with and magnify the traits that make them unique. Real people are very interesting and make the best characters!

I also associate each story with a feeling. That’s why the book makes you annoyed, worried, smile, and laugh. Take the first story in the novel, for example, Mr. Local is all about sweetness and guilt. The next one, the Stubborn Engineer: jealousy and toxicity. The fourth one covers the importance of mental health issues. And so on."

Q. 'Little Adventures in Yemen' is your debut novel. What was the scariest part of the publishing process for you – and the most rewarding?

"Opening the first box of printed copies was a very special and rewarding moment. I love books, the smell of the printed paper, turning the pages, and holding my first novel in my hands was priceless. At the same time, I didn't know how the readers would react to it, so its launch was also scary.

But I love challenges and this one has been a good one to keep me busy during the pandemic. I am also very grateful for all the support I have received from readers since the book was published."

Q. Our main protagonist has a strong love for Yemen, which makes her blind to its growing dangers. What are your thoughts on the love-hate relationship that expats experience with a country, in general?

"Living abroad might sometimes be challenging and frustrating. You need to make an extra effort to get anything done. I am sure many ExpatWoman readers can relate to this! At the same time, this keeps you active, ever-learning and curious, which is beautiful. Here is where the duality comes from. I would say that as far as you discover any new country with curiosity and an open-heart, it is always a win!"

Q. Do you feel that writing about love and drama has changed your views of expat relationships?

"There is a very famous Yemeni song called “Motayam” (“Lovesick” in English) in which a passionate lover tells the story of a hidden love. It goes like this: “If it was not significant, I wouldn’t tell how it feels”.

If it makes you want to scream out loud how it feels, it is worth living it."

Q. How was it like working with artist Sarah Aljoumari and editor Felicia Campbell?

"It was a great experience. Sarah is exceptionally talented and immediately grasped the idea of what was needed. Her illustrations are light, funny and at the same time delicate and detailed. Her style is a great fit for the novel and it was really easy to work with her.

And what can I say about Felicia? I wouldn’t have enough words in this interview. I have known Felicia since we met in Oman a few years ago, and her magic touch made this novel possible. She is the person who believed in this project more than anyone else, from the moment Little Adventures in Yemen was still a draft.

It was fantastic to be accompanied by these two great women in this project. 'Little Adventures in Yemen' wouldn’t be the same without their contribution."

Q. Any takeaway lessons for expats from the book?

"Don’t risk it, especially if you are in a conflict area. You are way more important than any project or story you will report from there."

Q. 'Little Adventures in Yemen' is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Without spoiling anything, what is your favourite chapter or scene that new readers can look forward to?

"The swimming pool party in the Mafraj and the trip to Marib are some of my favourite scenes. If I were to pick a story, I would select the Killer, from its start: “I kissed a killer. The first time was long before I knew he was one, but I kissed him again even after I knew”, to its end.

And the best chapter? Definitely the very last one; but I will not spoil this one for our dear ExpatWoman readers!"

For more information about 'Little Adventures in Yemen', visit: littleadventuresinyemen.com

Get the book here.