Thresholds: Interview with Dr. Christine Mangan, Author

Sometimes you are at a threshold of a new phase in life, unknowingly, of course. You travel to the other end of the world, only to discover that this isn’t the only change nor the only exciting journey you are about to partake in. So much more was in store for Dr. Christine Mangan (former professor at AUD) when she was only beginning to adjust to her new life in Dubai. With a book contract and a potential movie project, Christine’s life changes overnight (literally). I’ll never forget the hypnotic look on Christine’s face one day, early in the morning after she had spent an entire night on a long-distance call with her editor:

“Morning Christine. How was last night?”
“Surreal…”

And that is when her nascent debut novel,
Tangerine, was destined to become an international bestseller, “the thriller that everyone will be talking about” (as put by Esquire). In this interview, Christine will be sharing some more details with us about her inspiration, experience, and incredible journey as one of the most successful contemporary authors–not to mention that she was the initial co-dreamer behind encouraging Indelible into existence!

Read a sample of
Tangerine here.
Click here for an
audio excerpt of the book.

  • As a writer, what are your sources of inspiration? Since when did you discover the novelist in you?

I have always wanted to be a writer, I just never actually thought that it was a possibility! Over the years, I’ve started work on one book, only to later abandon it for another, never managing to get to a point where anything felt finished or complete. After graduating from my PhD program, I had more of a sense of how to finish a longer piece of writing—and time! Following my graduation, during the months when I was applying for jobs, I also used that time to sit down and write—and finish—a novel. In terms of inspiration, the places that I travel to and the people that I meet there are probably the biggest sources of inspiration for my writing. Without visiting Tangier, Tangerine would most likely never have been written.

  • You were in Dubai, teaching at AUD at the time when the idea of “Indelible” occurred to you and Dr. Roula-Maria Dib. Tell us a bit about the early stages of the journal’s conception.

We noticed that there were a lot of students who wanted to be creative and only limited opportunities for them to do so at AUD. Both of us had a number of talented students, all of whom were eager for a space that would allow them the opportunity to be encouraged creatively. From there, we started to put together an idea for Indelible, a publication in which they could share their work with the rest of the AUD community.

  • How did you find your experience in Dubai, and in AUD specifically?

My experience working at AUD was unforgettable, namely because it afforded me the opportunity to visit a part of the world that I had never considered traveling to before. Once there, I was surprised to find just how much I enjoyed it and, in fact, there are still quite a few things that I miss about life in Dubai. I loved exploring the food culture of “old” Dubai, (like Al Reef Bakery and Bu Qtair), as well as the “new,” like Espresso Lab (my favorite coffee) and Stomping Grounds (the best fish and chips) and Mirzam (I still miss their chocolate). There is also such a strong sense of community in Dubai, and at AUD, because so many people come to the city from other places and I think ultimately that is what I enjoyed the most.

  • Your debut novel, Tangerine, was a huge success and an instant bestseller with thousands of readers across the globe. The novel has been dubbed as “unputdownable”, How would you describe this incredible journey?

It has been completely unexpected—and at times a bit overwhelming! I’m so grateful to have found such a wonderful agent who picked Tangerine from the slush pile and saw potential in it, not to mention my amazing editor and all the booksellers and readers who have embraced the novel.  

  • What are your future writing plans?

I am currently finishing work on my second novel, so hopefully there will be more news on that shortly. I have a few ideas already for the third—although I am not sure which one I will settle on just yet!

  • You have a passion for traveling—how would you describe yourself as a globetrotter? What are some of your most memorable travel experiences, and how do they influence your writing?

I think one of my most memorable travel experiences was a road trip through Transylvania. It was November and everything was covered in fog—including the roads—which made for quite an atmospheric experience. Also, my first trip to Morocco, where I took the overnight train from Marrakech to Tangier. It was early summer, there had been a heatwave and the train had been sitting under the hot sun all day, which meant the air conditioning couldn’t catch up. Added to that, the windows were all locked shut, despite the train attendant’s best attempts to open them. In the end, all he could do was offer a bottle of water to everyone and then disappear into his own compartment for the night. There was a lot of shouting, a lot of tears, and while it wasn’t a particularly comfortable ride, it was definitely a memorable one.

Experiences like these not only provide a source of inspiration, but also encourage me to write as well. I oftentimes find that writing—particularly first drafts—come to me more naturally when I’m on the road.

  • Who are your favorite authors, and what books have you read lately?

My favorite authors include Daphne du Maurier,  the Brontë sisters, Sarah Waters, Tana French and Anthony Quinn. Books that I’ve enjoyed recently include Social Creature, by Tara Isabella Burton, A Certain Smile, by Francoise Sagan, and French Girl with Mother by Norman Ollestad.

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