Over the months that followed I went off the idea of being a wildlife biologist. It was the Latin names as well as the emphasis on collecting, categorising, labelling, which in the end just didn’t seem that much fun. I decided I’d rather be a vet. And of course, many years later, once I figured out that what I loved more than anything else was trying on different lives, I became a writer and that allowed me to sit in a room and be a wildlife biologist one day, if I pleased, and an inventor the next.
The first book I wrote was a memoir of my father, who had been a political prisoner in Sierra Leone when I was a child. I was propelled into writing it by the civil war in that country, my father’s country and the place I spent a good number of my childhood years. I wanted to know how the country I had known, seemingly so peace-loving and so beautiful, had imploded into violence. For my country to have a war and for me, a writer, not to write about it seemed to me a gross dereliction of duty. I was propelled into writing by war and I have written about war ever since.