Amna K. Boheim worked in investment banking before turning to writing. She also writes a blog on life’s little idiosyncrasies, the curious and the funny as well as dabbling in a bit of flash fiction and poetry. The Silent Children is her debut novel; it was awarded the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2016 silver medal for best suspense/thriller novel.
Unlike most South Asian writers’ initial works, your debut novel contains no allusions to your Eastern roots. Was that a conscious decision?
My roots are very important to me, but in this instance — my first novel — I just had it in my head to write a mystery set in Vienna, a city which has a repressed air about it and one that lent itself to the story that was evolving in my head. I think there are so many brilliant South Asian authors who have written novels about their culture. Perhaps it’s a confidence issue, but I feel that at the moment (other than one particular story I’m still in two minds about) the ideas I have in my head are nothing original.
Was it daunting to write about a setting of which you presumably do not have intimate knowledge, or was it liberating as you had to go solely by your instincts and research?
I have been lucky enough to visit Vienna many times. For The Silent Children I specifically went there twice to walk around Ober St Veit where Max’s mother’s house is (which is part of Hietzing), as well as walking around the 1st District. Wandering around the city was important for me to get a sense of the streets, the architecture, and the everyday life.