Sophie Hardach wrote The Registrar’s Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages while working as a journalist for Reuters in Paris. Originally inspired by the fragments of stories she was told while out on various reporting assignments, the novel follows the intertwining lives of a Kurdish boy struggling to build a life in Europe and a Registrar working at a Parisian town hall.
As part of her research, Sophie travelled to the Turkish-Syrian-Iraqi border, a mountainous region that is the traditional homeland of the Kurds as well as other ethnic groups. You can read about the trip on her blog, Brides, Sheikhs and Anarchists.
In telling the story of Selim, the Kurdish protagonist, Sophie was able to revisit the European countries where she had lived and worked as a rather more privileged migrant: the UK, Italy, France, as well as Germany, where she grew up. It also made her reflect on her experiences living in places where she stood out as a foreigner, such as Japan, Singapore and Colombia.
Sophie always wanted to be a writer, encouraged by her early commercial success churning out romances for school friends, with their favourite pop stars as the love interest. Moving from racy short stories to literary fiction
was more difficult than she thought, and her very first full-length novel was never published. Since persistence is a core characteristic of migrants as well as writers, her response was to write another novel – The Registrar.
Sophie is currently working on her next novel, which for a change is set in a single country, Britain. Like her other novels, it is written in English, a language that has become her literary home.