Writing the Expat Novel

Favorite quote from this piece “And whether you wanted to be or not, you are one of the chosen, a global translator of the human experience.”

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Assisi, Italy, www.carolineallen.com


I’m working on a series of four novels, EARTH, AIR, FIRE and WATER, two of which are expat novels (stories set in foreign countries). In EARTH, my protagonist is rooted to a farm in America. In AIR, she floats above the culture in the Orient. In FIRE, her ego is burned up, her life left in ashes in London. Finally, with WATER she goes through a profound healing transformation.

The ideas for the novels came a few years after I’d returned to the States from more than a decade living abroad. Since then, I have finished EARTH and AIR and am half way through FIRE. AIR AND FIRE are expat novels.

As novelists, how do we write an expat novel when we are no longer around the culture? I didn’t have the financial luxury to travel back to Tokyo, and anyway it was more than a decade since…

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